Rail Baltica Riga station concourse impression

EUROPE: A strategy for a Swiss-inspired national clockface timetable in Latvia has been published as part of the Rail Baltica programme, as further contracts for development of the 870 km standard gauge line have been awarded, an EU grant agreement signed and tenders called for construction of the Latvian section of the route.

Tri-national Rail Baltica project promoter RB Rail has published the Riga operation optimisation study, which was commissioned from Ramboll Deutschland on behalf of Latvia’s Ministry of Transport. This provides an in-depth analysis of options for future Latvian passenger services, including opportunities to integrate rail into Riga’s wider transport system by developing a network of 15 min interval suburban trains.

A Swiss-style national clockface timetable is envisaged, with Riga as a central hub where trains from all directions would connect every hour, integrating inter-city, overnight, regional and suburban trains on both the 1 435 mm gauge Rail Baltica and 1 520 mm national networks.

Latvian section tendered

Rail Baltica

Latvian implementation agency Eiropas Dzelzceļa Līnijas has called tenders for early contractor involvement and infrastructure construction works for the 200 km section of route, excluding the section within Riga.

Bidders much have at least seven years of experience of railway infrastructure construction, and an annual turnover ‘appropriate to the scale of the project’; it is anticipated that local companies will participate through partnerships with entities with global experience.

Applications should be submitted by January 28 2022. It is envisaged that a shortlist will be announced in April and the contract awarded at the end of 2022, enabling construction to begin in the first half of 2023.

Electrification and signalling will be procured separately by RB Rail, to ensure consistency throughout the three countries.

Technical oversight

Rail Baltica impression

Meanwhile, Lithuania’s LTG Infra has awarded Viamatika a €0·7m contract to provide technical supervision services for the construction of the 1 510 m long bridge over the River Neris.

The winner of the tender for the construction of the bridge itself is to be announced by the end of the year

CEF grant

In late October the EU’s Climate, Infrastructure & Environment Executive Agency signed a €16·7m Connecting Europe Facility grant for Rail Baltica, with the three governments to provide a total of €3·0m of match funding. This is the final grant under the 2014-21 financial period, and will support:

  • design of rail infrastructure around Kaunas station in Lithuania, and the Kaunas infrastructure maintenance facility;
  • design modifications in Riga, including changes to the station to support the operational plans;
  • identification of unexploded ordinance in the former Cekule military area in Latvia;
  • planning in Estonia’s Pärnu region;
  • surveys;
  • IT architecture development.

‘Between 2014 and the present day there have been seven EU-funded Rail Baltica projects, for a total amount of EU support of more than €950m’, said Morten Jensen, Head of unit at CINEA, adding that the latest grant ‘further showcases the hard work and positive collaboration by all stakeholders involved.’