RIGA - The construction of the high-speed railway Rail Baltica should start no sooner than 2020, said Talis Linkaits, the organizer of a conference on the development of the Rail Baltica transport corridor, reports Nozare.lv. After a study into the feasibility of building a standard European gauge railroad line, the Baltic countries will have to decide once and for all if they wish to have a high-speed passenger line, and the transport corridor must be included in their national plans.
Technical, economic and environmental impact assessments will also have to be carried out. After all this is done, the construction of the railroad could start in the next European Union financing period - after 2020 - explained Linkaits. Preparing such projects “takes time,” stressed Linkaits.
It is important to realize that, due to the crisis, projects worth billions of euros are “unaffordable. Political will is necessary to decide if such a project is necessary, and then a large number of small steps will have to be taken toward implementing the project,” said the expert.
The participants in the conference concluded that there actually were two Rail Baltica projects, of which one could be implemented with the existing infrastructure to make freight and passenger transport faster. The other project is the construction of a high-speed rail line.
Latvia must carry out all the measures within the framework of the current Rail Baltica project, including modernization of the existing Rail Baltica corridor. Rail Baltica European Coordinator Pavel Telicka said during the conference that Estonia had used up approximately 91 percent of EU funds for TEN-T corridor projects. Lithuania continues utilizing the available EU funds, whereas Latvia has not yet started using these funds. If Latvia does not start utilizing EU funds allotted for the project, the money will be lost, and this will also affect allocation of funds for further transport projects, warned Telicka.