Linkaits concerned about limited progress in talks on single infrastructure management model for Rail Baltica

  • 2021-01-14
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - There has been no good news of any progress with introduction of a single infrastructure management model for the Rail Baltica railroad project, Transport Minister Talis Linkaits (New Conservative Party) said at the government's meeting on Thursday.

Last December, the Baltic prime ministers released a joint statement, which also addressed the Rail Baltic management model. The three premiers emphasized that the Baltic countries had to reach agreement on a joint Rail Baltica infrastructure management model to make maximum use of Rail Baltica's economic potential and make it more attractive to future users.

However, not much progress has been made during the talks so far, said Linkaits. The colleagues in Lithuania have been rather reserved, and talks with Estonia will have to begin from scratch now that the Estonian government has collapsed. Furthermore, Estonia did not support integration even before the government crisis, Linkaits added.

Health Minister Daniels Pavluts (For Development/For) reminded that Latvian ruling coalition had agreed last August already that Rail Baltica needed a joint infrastructure management model.

Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins (New Unity) said in turn that he would talk to the Lithuanian and Estonian premiers. One coalition partner in the outgoing Estonian government was not inclined to support European cooperation, he said. At the same time, Karins made it clear that, should Kaja Kallas be appointed Estonia's prime minister, the Rail Baltica talks could become more productive.

During the first half of 2021, talks with Lithuania and Estonia should be the common goal, so the three countries treat the Rail Baltica project the same way, said Karins. The European Commission has already made it clear that if there are differences among the Baltic countries, the total financing for implementation of the project may be more difficult to come by.

As reported, Rail Baltica is a double track, European standard 1,435 mm gauge electrified railroad for passenger and freight transport to be built from Tallinn to the Lithuanian-Polish border. The overall length of the railroad will be 870 kilometers.

The initial cost of the project was estimated at EUR 5.8 billion, with a portion of the costs being financed through EU funds. The project was expected to be completed and open for traffic in 2026.