EUROPE: Three grant agreements for the Rail Baltica project with a total value of €734m were signed by the EU's Innovation & Networks Executive Agency in Tallinn on November 24.

The grants have been awarded under the 2014 call for Connecting Europe Facility funding, and cover planning and construction works which are to be completed by 2020. The beneficiaries are the RB Rail tri-national joint venture which is acting as the Baltic States’ joint project promoter for the 1 435 mm gauge line (€442m), Lithuania’s Ministry of Transport (€106m) and Polish infrastructure manager PKP PLK (€186m).

The grant to RB Rail will fund detailed design of the alignment in Estonia, including Tallinn and Pärnu stations and a freight terminal in Tallinn. It also allows the start of preliminary construction works. In Latvia the grant will support design and preliminary construction for Riga station, a link to the airport and land acquisition.

Lithuania’s €25·4m share of the RB Rail funding will support planning for the Kaunas – Panevėžys – Latvia section of Rail Baltica. Lithuania will also receive €105·9m from a separate application for CEF funding which was made by the Ministry of Transport & Communications on behalf of national railway LG. This will fund the recently-inaugurated 1 435 mm gauge line between the Polish border and Kaunas, and preparation for construction of the continuation to the Latvian border.

PKP PLK will use its €186m grant to modernise 102 km of railway line from Warszawa Rembertów to Sadowne and Czyżew.

Lithuania, Estonia and Poland are planning to submit further funding applications under the second CEF call by February 2016, with Lithuania valuing its share at €197·6m.

Main construction works for Rail Baltica would require further funding, and is planned for completion by 2025.

RB Rail Chair Baiba Rubesa said RB Rail would receive the funding for the project, ensuring appropriate management and transparent and efficient implementation under a framework agreed by the three transport ministries.

‘Rail Baltica will provide one of the most important missing links of the European rail network and improve connectivity options for people and businesses in the EU internal market’, said Catherine Trautmann, North Sea–Baltic TEN-T Corridor Co-ordinator. ‘It is now up to the beneficiaries of these projects to turn the actions planned into reality so that the target date of 2025 can be kept for the completion of the line in the Baltic States.’