Minister blames RB Rail, Lithuanian Railways for Rail Baltica delays

  • 2024-06-12
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Transport Minister Marius Skuodis blames the Baltic joint venture RB Rail for the slow pace of the construction of Rail Baltica and calls on Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways, LTG) to identify those responsible for the delays in Lithuania. 

"Once and for all, we have to stop talking and covering for each other. Even the State Audit Office fails to indicate clearly who is responsible. The responsibility lies with the Baltic joint venture, which has not provided us with projects for two years," Skuodis told reporters in Jonava, where he attended Wednesday's ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of the Jonava bypass, a project important for defense and transit.  

"If the LTG, its management board, doesn't take responsibility to find those at fault and make them answer, the Transport Ministry will. I'm also talking about people who are no longer in their positions; they shouldn't feel safe," he added.

On Tuesday, Skuodis publicly urged LTG to accelerate the construction of the European standard-gauge railway. 

"In our letter of expectations to the LTG management board in 2022, we wrote that the essential works (on the railway section) up to Panevezys had to be completed in 2024," the minister told reporters in Jonava. 

"Today, although the work is well underway, which can't be denied, we aren't yet talking about completion," he added.

Skuodis emphasized that the Rail Baltica project must be completed in 2030, with the Lithuanian and Polish lines to be connected in 2028, and the Lithuanian and Latvian lines in 2030. 

"We'll do (the work) up to Panevezys. But if I don't see progress from the Latvian side in building the tracks toward Lithuania, we'll have questions about our further work," he said.

The minister criticized Latvia and Estonia for what he described as smaller-scale construction efforts compared to Lithuania, noting that the countries prioritize building stations over tracks.

"What I don't want is to do what some of our neighbors are doing – using the funds for building stations. We need tracks. I'm pleased that in Lithuania, we are building tracks, not stations. The private sector will build the stations," he said.  

RB Baltic says that in Lithuania, the construction of 29 kilometers of the mainline is underway, with plans to extend the construction to a 70-kilometer section by the end of the year. 

Estonia has started the construction of 21 kilometers of the mainline and Latvia is planning to start building the first 13 kilometers in the coming months.

Rail Baltica will connect Tallinn, Parnu, Riga, Panevezys, Kaunas, Vilnius and Warsaw, including a 392-kilometre stretch in Lithuania.