MP: Rail Baltic route option passing through Tartu 'is off the table'

  • 2017-02-28
  • BNS/TBT Staff

PARNU - After the recent discussion of topics related to Rail Baltic in the Riigikogu economic affairs committee there's nothing more to discuss and the option of building the railway through Tartu is "off the table," Toomas Kivimagi, deputy chairman of the standing committee, told Parnu Postimees.

"Rail Baltic through Tartu – this option is no longer on the table. Another thing opponents have been trying to claim is that we have 1.3 billion euros in connection with Rail Baltic and there are all sorts of other things we would like to do with it. This is wishful thinking too. We will either use the European Commission's money to build Rail Baltic or get none at all," Kivimagi added.

Speaking of the project's feasibility study, Kivimagi said that the study reckons with goods from northwestern Russia.

"I don't know how much this changes the assessment. However, the railway is to be built with a long-term outlook in mind and hopefully, relations with Russian will be better in ten years' time than they are now," the MP said.

At present, 1,300 trucks pass through the Ikla crossing on the Estonian-Latvian border every day, which equals ten million tons of freight per year. The European Commission estimates road freight haulage to grow by a further 42 percent by 2030. "If one-third of that freight goes to the railway, we will have the necessary volume," Kivimagi said.

Kivimagi also said that according to the estimates, an opening of the rail connection will not reduce the burden on Via Baltica. This means, however, that transforming the road into a 2+2 lane road will remain topical.

"New transportation options becoming available always brings with it additional amounts. Hence existing freight volumes and big traffic pressure on Via Baltica will remain also after the completion of Rail Baltic," Kivimagi said.