MPs call for parliamentary inquiry into mistakes made in Rail Baltica project's implementation

  • 2024-06-07
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - A group of 34 opposition MPs from the United List, National Alliance and Latvia First have proposed setting up a parliamentary inquiry committee to examine the mistakes made during the implementation of the Rail Baltica railway project. 

The ad hoc panel would be tasked with identifying the mistakes that have been made while implementing the transnational railway infrastructure project, "so that decisions are taken in a transparent and timely manner, taking into account the national and public interest, the impact on the Latvian economy and the state budget," the lawmakers said.

Asked about this proposal, Tavars, chairman of the United List group in the Saeima, told LETA that since the European Parliament elections are two days away, so it would be more appropriate to comment in more detail on the purpose of the inquiry commission next Monday, June 10.

The Saeima will have to vote on the proposed establishment of a parliamentary inquiry committee. However, such votes have traditionally been regarded as a mere formality, since the Constitution obliges the Saeima to appoint a parliamentary inquiry committee if it is requested by at least 34 MPs.

As reported, Latvia's total cost of the Rail Baltica project was estimated at around EUR 1.9 billion five years ago, but now the cost share in the first phase has at least tripled, Transport Minister Kaspars Briskens (Progressives) said after a coalition meeting on Monday, June 3.

The public will soon know the details of the costs when the full cost analysis is made public. If one compares the estimate of the total investment volume five years ago, which was about EUR 1.9 billion for Latvia, this amount is now at least three times higher, the minister said. Briskens promised that the Ministry of Transport will declassify many of the previously prepared documents so that the public has the opportunity to get acquainted with them.

Briskens said that on June 11 the government would see the information report, which, among other things, outlines the implementation scenario for the first phase of the project, which is also important for the partners in the European Union, in order to outline the path Latvia is choosing.

The Transport Minister is positive that "together" a way will be found to secure funding for the first phase of the project. Briskens' only concern is that the governance so far has been "very weak", which has manifested itself at various levels - both in the implementing institutions and at political level.

As reported, the construction of the Rail Baltica main line is planned to start this summer, during the current construction season, LETA was informed by representatives of the company responsible for the construction of the Rail Baltica project in Latvia, Eiropas Dzelzcela Linijas (EDzL).

The Rail Baltica project envisages a European standard gauge railway line from Tallinn to the Lithuanian-Polish border to connect the Baltic states with other European countries by rail. A new 870-kilometre European-standard (1435 millimeter) railway line with a maximum train speed of 240 kilometers per hour will be built in the Baltic states.

Rail Baltica was originally expected to cost EUR 5.8 billion, but stakeholders have repeatedly said that the cost has increased significantly. Part of the cost will be covered by European Union funds. Rail Baltica is planned to open in phases between 2028 and 2030.