EUROPE: ‘The Russian invasion of Ukraine reaffirms the need to connect the Baltic states to the rest of Europe’, said Catherine Trautmann, the European Commission’s co-ordinator for the North Sea – Baltic TEN-T corridor, on April 13, when Rail Baltica project promoter RB Rail set out its €2bn procurement plan for 2022. ‘The Russian attack has increased the geopolitical relevance of Rail Baltica’.
Contracts to be procured this year include electrification, signalling and control systems, detailed design and supervision of the Kaunas – Polish border section, noise barriers and fencing, IT development and a study of the optimum model for the provision of 1 435 mm gauge rolling stock.
‘Despite the external challenges, including impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and now the devastating and condemnable war on Ukraine, the Rail Baltica project is advancing’, reported RB Rail Chairman & CEO Agnis Driksna.
She said the procurement plan had been made possible by the strong support of the EU through the Connecting Europe Facility. Applications are being made for additional financing, while funding has recently been allocated from the CEF’s Military Mobility programme.
Trautmann confirmed that the construction of Rail Baltica to strengthen the Baltic region’s integration into the European Union was a priority for the Commission, saying that a railway from Tallinn to Warszawa was ‘a major missing link in the EU’s transport network’. She believed that the project offering an opportunity to create a new economic corridor.
‘Strong European backing, including through the various funding mechanisms, makes Rail Baltica a very safe project for suppliers and construction companies’, Trautmann emphasised.
Strong relations with suppliers
RB Rail said more than 200 Baltic and 50 international partners are now involved in the project, with more than 150 active contracts totalling over €900m.
‘Our goal is to build and maintain strong and long-term relations with our strategic partners from the Baltic States and EU, including the Rail Baltica suppliers’ community’, said Driksna.
RB Rail has undertaken ‘thorough analysis’ to mitigate any project risks from the attack on Ukraine.
‘It is clear, that due to moral, ethical, and pragmatic project implementation reasons, there is no possibility to do business with Russian and Belarusian companies’, explained Chief Procurement Officer Kristjan Piirsalu. ‘This further opens opportunities for other companies in the region. Currently, we are considering various further improvements in terms of our practices in procurement, contracting, pricing and co-operation principles.’
- Lithuania’s LTG Infra has awarded Italian company Rizzani de Eccher a €64m, 2½ year contract to build the 1 510 m long bridge carrying Rail Baltica over the River Neris near Jonava. Construction must avoid the fish migration and spawning season, and a 150 m span has been specified to avoid building supports in the river bed.