EUROPE: The intergovernmental agreement for the development of the Rail Baltica 1 435 mm gauge route has now been ratified by all three of the Baltic States, after the Lithuanian parliament voted 96 in favour and 0 against with one abstention on October 10.
The agreement sets out principles including the route, timelines, technical parameters, funding conditions and ownership of the planned 240 km/h route from Tallinn to Pärnu, Riga, Panevezys, Kaunas and the Polish border, with a branch from Kaunas to Vilnius.
It was initially signed by the three prime minsters in Tallinn on January 31. The Estonian parliament voted 63 in favour and 20 against ratification on June 19, and the Latvian parliament voted unanimously in favour of ratification on June 22.
Baiba Rubesa, CEO & Chair of the RB Rail trilaterial joint venture which is manging the project, said the final ratification was a ‘milestone’ for stakeholders, including contractors, future users of the line, the EU as the main investor and Finland and Poland as implementation partners.
Completion is planned by 2025, with operations to commence by 2026.
Under the agreement, the three countries will jointly work to secure EU funding for the Kaunas – Vilnius branch, ‘bearing in mind that the construction of this section will be phased in such a way that the entire project would not be delayed or stopped.’