VILNIUS - Despite cost increase, implementation delay and economic sustainability risks identified by the European Court of Auditors (ECA), Rail Baltica was rated as one of the best performing among the major EU infrastructure projects audited by the watchdog, Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said on Wednesday,
Skvernelis played down the ECA's warning that Rail Baltica may run well over budget, noting that all eight transport "megaprojects" audited have increased in cost.
"The costs of all eight projects have increased. Additional links have emerged (in Rail Baltica), including Vilnius-Kaunas, a link to Riga's railway station, and a tram link in Tallinn," the prime minister told a news conference.
"This project (Rail Baltica) is rated by the European Commission and the Court of Auditors as the most advanced and the least risky," he added.
The ECA's overall conclusions show that Lithuania is a role model when it comes to the implementation of Rail Baltica, according to Skvernelis.
The ECA published on Tuesday a report on its audit of eight major EU infrastructure projects. The watchdog concluded that the implementation of these projects should be accelerated "to deliver network effects on time".
Rimantas Sadzius, the Lithuanian ECA member, also told BNS on Wednesday that Rail Baltica was one of the best performing among the audited projects.
Rail Baltica will integrate the Baltic countries into the European railway network. The project provides for building a European standard 1,435 mm gauge electrified railway from Tallinn to the Lithuanian-Polish border for passenger and freight transport.
Rail Baltica is largely funded from EU funds and its implementation is closely monitored by the European Commission and the Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian national authorities.