On Thursday, 22 June, the Saeima ratified the agreement concluded by the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian governments to build the Rail Baltica rail connection.
The agreement is aimed at ensuring the completion and functionality of an efficient, fast conventional European gauge railway, built as a project of common interest according to the common technical parameters, for passengers and freight transport on a route as part of the trans-European transport network.
On Rail Baltica, passenger trains will reach speeds of up to 240 km/h as compared to the current 120 km/h and cargo will travel from Tallinn to Poland in two days instead of four. Moreover, Rail Baltica will greatly reduce environmental pollution, as more freight will be shipped by rail rather than road. It is expected that over 10 thousand jobs will be created in Latvia during the construction of the railway connection, as Kaspars Rokens, Member of the Management Board of “RB Rail AS”, previously informed the Foreign Affairs Committee, which is in charge of the relevant draft law.
Kaspars Briškens, “RB Rail AS” Business Development Manager, already previously informed MPs that Rail Baltica is expected to move about 13 million tonnes of freight, including a part of Finnish import and export goods, by 2030. Furthermore, Rail Baltica will provide Latvian exporters access to new markets.
The agreement emphasises the common objective of the Baltic States to develop the public railway infrastructure, which is of a considerable strategic and economic importance to the citizens and economies of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The summary of the draft law states that Rail Baltica is also an important infrastructure project for Poland and Finland, and the European Union (EU), which aims to develop trans-European transport networks, including the North Sea-Baltic Core Network Corridor.
The agreement formalises the hitherto used definition of the Rail Baltica railway, the role of “RB Rail AS” as the project coordinator, and the Rail Baltica route through the Baltic States. The agreement also attests to the Baltic States’ commitment to ensure completion and functionality of the railway by 2025 in order to commence its operation by 2026. The agreement highlights the importance of co-financing from European Union sources and the readiness of the Baltic States to repeatedly apply for it until the completion of the project. The agreement furthermore provides for the possibility for all parties to co-finance directly from their national resources the activities implemented by the project coordinator.
According to the agreement, each state will own the part of the railway infrastructure located within its territory. The agreement also establishes the principle of non-discriminatory access to infrastructure and cooperation between the regulatory and safety authorities in the field of railways. In line with the agreement, disputes concerning its interpretation or application should be resolved by negotiations and consultations.
Saeima Press Service