Inaugural Lithuanian and Latvian-Spanish Business Forums: Strengthening Transport Industry Ties Between Baltics and Spain

  • 2024-02-29

Two events this week, in Vilnius and Riga, provided opportunities for Spanish business representatives to learn more about the Latvian and Lithuanian transport infrastructure, including recent and planned developments, with a specific emphasis on the Rail Baltica project. These Business Forums served as a platform for establishing connections while gaining valuable insights into the transportation sector of both countries. Over 100 companies and professionals from Lithuania, Latvia and Spain participated in these events.

Organized by RB Rail AS, the central coordinator of the Rail Baltica global project, the Embassy of Spain, and the governmental agency ICEX-Spain Trade and Investment, Lithuanian Railways, the event attracted significant participation from 18 Spanish companies, including the Spanish state-owned companies ADIF and RENFE, and the sectoral association MAFEX. Óscar Puente, Minister of Transport and Sustainable Mobility of Spain, Kaspars Briškens, Minister of Transport of Latvia, and Loreta Maskaliovienė, Viceminister of Transport and Communications of Lithuania also participated in the forums highlighting the commitment at the highest political level to enhancing cooperation in the transportation sector.

In Riga, Marko Kivila, Interim Chairperson of the Management Board and CEO of RB Rail AS and in Vilnius, Marius Narmontas, Chief Operations Officer and Member of the Management Board at RB Rail AS, introduced the audiences with the Rail Baltica project progress. Both presentations underscored the project's significance, not only as a vital transport corridor but also as a strategic asset facilitating military readiness and bolstering economic development of the Baltic region. They outlined the current project priorities, highlighting the evolution of design works into construction-ready phases and the ongoing procurement efforts for railway infrastructure. The importance of optimizing project scheduling to ensure timely completion and operational functionality by 2030 was also stressed. Kivila and Narmontas addressed the financial aspects, including the finalization of investment costs through comprehensive cost-benefit analysis and the exploration of various financing options, including EU funds and alternative mechanisms. 

The development of transport infrastructure in Spain over the last 30 years has placed this country in the top ten in the world in terms of quality indexes for the sector. Spain has been able to build the second longest high-speed rail network in the world. Spanish companies have been developing important railway projects in Nordic countries, Saudi Arabia, the United States, Germany and France, among other countries, including the Baltic States. Some of the technical solutions offered by Spanish companies were commented during the business forums, such as gauge change systems in trains, which allow them to run on different gauges. 

"Such events are an excellent opportunity to engage directly with the market, to hear its expectations, and responding to them is one of the cornerstones for the implementation of such a complex megaproject like Rail Baltica. We are delighted to see such high interest from Spanish companies in this project and looking forward to constructive dialogue in the future", concluded Marius Narmontas.

With Rail Baltica fostering about 300 partnerships with companies across the Baltic states and the EU, including five from Spain, the forum highlighted the importance of international cooperation and exchange. Spain's active participation and interest in the industry, given its advancements and longstanding involvement in high-speed rail, underscored the event's significance.

Arnis Staltmanis, Management Board Member of Eiropas Dzelzceļa līnijas, provided insights into the current and future projects of Rail Baltica in Latvia, while Anvar Salomets, CEO of Rail Baltic Estonia, shed light on Estonia's plans in the Rail Baltica project. Joining the discussion from Latvia were also Chairman of the Board of Latvian Railways (LDZ), Rinalds Pļavnieks, the CEO of Riga International Airport (RIX), Laila Odiņa, and Ansis Zeltiņš, CEO of Riga Port Authority, further contributing to the dialogue on the future of transport infrastructure development.

About Rail Baltica 

Rail Baltica is one of Europe's largest high-speed infrastructure projects, aiming to establish a modern and sustainable rail link that connects the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania with the European rail network. It is also a part of the trans-European transport corridor.

Rail Baltica will be a fully electrified, double-track railway with a standard gauge of 1435 mm and will be equipped with ERTMS (European Rail Traffic Management System) and designed to meet European standards. With a design speed of 249 km/h, Rail Baltica will significantly reduce travel times between the Baltic States and major European cities. It will serve as a modern infrastructure for passenger, freight, and military mobility, promoting accessibility and facilitating business, tourism, and cultural exchange. Additionally, the project will enhance the Baltic region's position as a vital transit hub, fostering stronger trade connections and promoting regional cooperation.

About RB Rail AS 

RB Rail AS is a multinational joint venture of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania established to lead and coordinate the implementation of the Rail Baltica Global Project, the first infrastructure development project of this scale in the Baltic region. More about Rail Baltica global project: