The Rail Baltica joint venture RB Rail AS, acting on behalf of the project's beneficiaries - the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications of Estonia, the Ministry of Transport of Latvia, and the Ministry of Transport and Communications of Lithuania on 22 June 2023 announced that it has been awarded 928 million euros in the second call within the second financial period of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2021-2027 from the Connecting Europe Facility. This substantial funding, combined with national co-financing from the three Baltic States, will exceed 1.1 billion euros, enabling necessary activities for further high-speed infrastructure development to connect the Baltic region with the rest of Europe.
The European Commission has selected 107 projects out of a total of 353 submitted in response to the call for proposals published in 2022, to receive over €6 billion in EU grants from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), the EU's instrument for strategic investment in transport infrastructure.
Major cross-border rail connections along the TEN-T core network have also been prioritized for funding. These include the Brenner Base tunnel, which links Italy and Austria, Rail Baltica, connecting the three Baltic States and Poland with the rest of Europe, as well as the cross-border sections between Germany and Switzerland (Karlsruhe to Basel) and between Germany and the Netherlands (Emmerich–Oberhausen). Over 80% of the EU funding will support projects that deliver a more efficient, greener, and smarter network of railways, inland waterways, and maritime routes along the trans-European transport (TEN-T) network. Projects will in addition bolster the EU-Ukraine Solidarity Lanes, set up to facilitate Ukraine’s exports and imports.
Commissioner for Transport, Adina Vălean, said: “Rail Baltica project used to be a priority, now it is a geopolitical necessity – we need a resilient transport connection for passengers and freight to and from the Baltic States. Overcoming different gauges is imperative to create an integrated European railway area that brings fast trains to the region and gives citizens new opportunities to travel between the Baltic States and the rest of Europe. The region needs this sustainable alternative alongside the buses and planes on which it today depends. Under this call, the Baltic section of Rail Baltica will receive €930 million. This is on top of the €1.2 billion already received. An additional €285 million will be allocated to the Rail Baltica line in Poland.”
"This year, our focus is on commencing mainline construction in all Baltic States, which includes the construction of mainline objects and related infrastructure facilities, access roads, as well as implementing key services to enhance interoperability and the cross-border dimension of the project. We are actively aligning our global project delivery program to effectively track progress and facilitate timely decision-making. Additionally, we have initiated the project's cost-benefit analysis and long-term business plan, which will be completed by autumn 2024. This exercise is crucial for assessing the project's economic viability, securing funding, and optimizing project delivery," said Marko Kivila, interim Chairman of the Management Board and Chief Executive Officer at RB Rail AS.
The planned financing agreement to be signed between the European Climate, Infrastructure, and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA) and Rail Baltica in Q3 2023 will support various key activities.
These include construction of railway substructure, civil engineering structures, service/access roads, and road crossings for multiple sections in Estonia, such as Loone to Alu, Harju/Rapla county border to Loone, Parila, Juula, Alu road crossings, and others. The construction of railway substructure, civil engineering structures, and service/access roads from Ülemiste to Soodevahe, construction supervision services, as well as land acquisition and related procedures for the mainline in Estonia. In Latvia, the funding of this call is intended for the continuation of construction works in the main sections of the Rail Baltica project at both international stations – the construction of viaducts over Maskavas and Krasta Streets at the Rail Baltica Riga Central Hub, the access platforms to the hub, the construction of viaducts over Maskavas and Krasta Streets, the relocation of the existing 1520mm gauge tracks to the southern side of the newly constructed station, the construction works of the railway viaduct near Riga International Airport terminal, and the elevation of station platforms. Additionally, the funding is allocated for the acquisition and design of real estate properties, the establishment of the construction base in Iecava, the construction and supervision works of the main track outside Riga. In Lithuania, mainline construction for the priority section from Kaunas to the Latvian border and land acquisition procedures will be covered from the financing agreement.
The horizontal global project activities include the implementation of the delivery phase for consolidated material management supply, the implementation the railway infrastructure sustainability framework, the continuity of IT infrastructure and solutions implementation and Shadow Operator services for Rail Baltica and others.
“I would like to express our deepest appreciation for the EU’s active support and interest shown in Rail Baltica, fostering trust and enabling us to follow the global project timelines outlined in the recently adopted Rail Baltica Delivery Programme 2030 to promote sustainable transportation, enhance regional connectivity, and becoming an important military mobility enabler,” Kivila added.
The substantial amount of financing recommended for the Rail Baltica global project will be added to the existing funding of over 1.6 billion euros secured for the implementation of Rail Baltica from CEF and national funding. Together with the recently approved additional financing, Rail Baltica has secured approximately 2.7 billion euros from CEF and national funding. The estimated Rail Baltica CAPEX in 2017 was 5.8 billion euros.
The CEF Transport program implements the European Union's transport infrastructure policy by supporting investments in the construction or upgrade of transport infrastructure throughout Europe.