VILNIUS - Lithuania was set last week to open the first railroad section of the Rail Baltica railway line, reports news agency ELTA. Passenger and cargo trains were to arrive to the first railway crossing at the Kalvarija-Leipalingis road, on the restored 1,435 mm. standard gauge track, on the Sestokai-Mockava section.
Rail Baltica is the first real railway transport expansion project underway on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea, one which is aimed at regulating and improving the increasing cargo traffic in the north-south direction. The project, which is part of the Trans-European Transport Network, is expected to improve communications between the Baltic region and other European member states.
The project is especially important to the Lithuanian economy, since it will improve not only the quality of transport services, but also cargo handling and international competitiveness, Transport Minister Eligijus Masiulis said.
Works continue on other railroad sections.
The European railway is scheduled to reach Kaunas in 2013. The entire 335-kilometer long section in Lithuania is planned to be completed in 2015.
The project is largely financed by the TEN-T Fund and the Cohesion Fund of the European Union; 222.9 million euros are allocated from Lithuania’s state budget. Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways) also contributes to the project.