Senator of the City of Hamburg Dr Leonhard: Rail Baltica Enhances European North-South Connectivity and Facilitates Climate-Friendly Intermodal Freight Transport

  • 2024-04-03

With a goal to deepen ties and investigate collaboration opportunities within the Rail Baltica project, a delegation from Hamburg, Germany, led by Dr Melanie Leonhard, Senator of the City of Hamburg and Minister of Economy and Innovation, visited Rail Baltica in Riga. Accompanied by German entrepreneurs representing the ports and logistics sector, alongside media representatives, the delegation explored the project's potential and current progress. 

"The Rail Baltica project closes a gap in north-south connections through Europe. This impressive cross-border rail corridor brings the Baltic region closer to us and is one of the most important passenger and cargo transport structure projects in the entire region. In our experience from the Port of Hamburg, a rail link for ports in particular is a considerable locational advantage because it enables climate-friendly, intermodal freight transport. Integrating port logistics into the Rail Baltica via efficient intermodal terminals will therefore create considerable additional benefits," said Senator Dr Melanie Leonhard, Minister of Economy and Innovation, Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg.

Ēriks Diļevs, Head of the Latvian branch at RB Rail AS, the project’s central coordinator, and Gusts Ašmanis, Director of the Infrastructure Management Department at Eiropas Dzelzceļa līnijas, the national implementing body of Rail Baltica, delivered a thorough presentation on the Rail Baltica project.

"Hosting Dr. Leonhard and the Hamburg delegation at Rail Baltica highlights the project's role in promoting regional integration, economic growth, and cross-national collaboration within Europe. As we press forward with active mainline construction works this year, such engagements significantly contribute to the project's successful realization,” stressed Diļevs

Diļevs emphasized Rail Baltica's important role as the missing link for EU market integration, underlining its significance in connecting the Baltic and Black Sea regions. The project's scope extends beyond mere transportation infrastructure; it aspires to establish a functional corridor for transport, military, and economic purposes, fostering greater integration and economic growth across the participating nations.

The delegation received an overview of the project's current global priorities, highlighting significant milestones achieved in its implementation. Master designs for priority sections are nearing completion, with over 100 kilometers of mainline expected to be under construction in the Baltics by 2024. Furthermore, substantial progress has been made in consolidated construction material procurement, electrification, and the control-command and signaling subsystems.

Gusts Ašmanis offered insights into the implementation and construction progress in Latvia, highlighting Rail Baltica works in Riga center and at RIX Riga Airport as integral parts in development of surrounding areas and multilayer benefits that they carry. “Due to the impressive progress of construction in Rail Baltica Riga Central Hub here maturity of Rail Baltica from vision to reality is seen best,” said Ašmanis.

Collaborations and International Partnerships

A crucial aspect of the Rail Baltica project is its extensive network of collaborations and partnerships with Baltic and EU companies. The delegation learned that around 300 partnerships have been established, with contracts totaling over 4.7 billion euros signed. Of particular interest to the German delegation were the collaborations with German companies, which play a significant role in various key projects within Rail Baltica. The delegation was briefed on several key projects involving German companies.

German expertise, especially in high-speed rail, plays a significant role in advancing Rail Baltica's objectives. Presently, seven German companies are actively involved as partners in the project. Furthermore, the partnership with DB Engineering & Consulting, a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn AG, highlights the strengthening relationship, particularly evident in projects such as the Riga Central Passenger Station, Vangaži-Salaspils-Misa section, ENE Electrification, and Shadow Operator. Anna Černova, Head of the Branch Office for Latvia and Northern Europe at DB Engineering & Consulting, provided valuable perspective on the extensive engagement of DB Engineering & Consulting in the project. 

Following the discussions, the delegation was given the opportunity to explore the Rail Baltica Riga Central Station construction site. Guided by Andis Linde, Stakeholder Manager of Bererix, the delegation gained valuable insights into the ongoing construction progress and the development of infrastructure at the site.

Riga Central Railway Hub will become the largest passenger terminal in the Baltics because of the Rail Baltica project. The station will have three floors and will be functionally accessible to all social groups, offering a range of amenities to Riga residents and visitors. The building will feature 23 escalators, 16 lifts, 25 new staircases to the platforms, a tactile network throughout the Rail Baltica project area, and tactile guidance from public transport stops to the train platforms.

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: