Rail Baltica: when constructing infrastructure that will serve the next 100 years, the impact of climate change becomes especially important

  • 2023-12-07

During the 28th session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28), discussions also took place regarding the role of the Rail Baltica project in ensuring sustainable railway transport in the Baltic region.

On Wednesday, 6 December, a panel discussion titled "Rail Baltica Project as a Catalyst for Sustainable Transport Future" took place, featuring the top leadership responsible for the implementation of Rail Baltica from the Baltic States' ministries. Participants included Kaspars Briškens, the Latvian Minister of Transport; Marius Skuodis, the Lithuanian Minister of Transport and Communications; and Keit Kasemets, the State Secretary of the Estonian Ministry of Climate. The discussion was moderated by Herald Ruijters, Director of the Investment, Innovative and Sustainable Transport Department at the Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport (DG MOVE). The focus of the discussion revolved around the role and impact of the Rail Baltica project in the context of climate change. The event was organized by Rail Baltic Estonia, the national implementing body of Rail Baltica in Estonia.

The discussion was opened by Emilien Dang, Chief Technical Officer and Member of the Management Board of the joint venture RB Rail AS, who introduced the technical parameters of Rail Baltica and environmental sustainability solutions.

“In the process of designing and constructing greenfield infrastructure that will serve the needs of society for at least the next 100 years, adaptation to climate change emerges as a crucial aspect. This not only ensures resilience but also safeguards investments, enhances public safety, aligns with regulations, and contributes to overall environmental sustainability. Rail Baltica has incorporated climate-related considerations into the project's life cycle since its initial stages of planning and design," remarked Emilien Dang.

As an example, he mentioned a comprehensive study on the impact of climate change conducted for Rail Baltica, which assessed how climate change affects the operation and technical maintenance of Rail Baltica railway infrastructure throughout its lifecycle. The study identified the most vulnerable parts of the railway infrastructure and proposed relevant adaptation and mitigation measures, which will be integrated into the design of the line and further implemented during the construction phase.

Dang also emphasized Rail Baltica's contribution to achieving EU energy independence and improving regional energy security. The global project aims to use 100% renewable energy, projecting a reduction in CO2 emissions exceeding 150,000 tCO2e per year of operation in 2030 and over 400,000 tCO2e per year of operation by 2050. By promoting a modal shift towards rail, the net cost of greenhouse gas emissions is expected to decrease from 2.3 to 3.1 billion euros. It is estimated that fossil fuel consumption could decrease from 1.5% to 3.3% compared to the average consumption during the period between 2010 and 2021.

COP28 is the most significant global forum in the field of climate change, addressing progress in fulfilling the commitments outlined in the Paris Agreement to significantly limit global warming. COP28 consists of several hundred intergovernmental negotiations, as well as numerous parallel conferences, seminars, discussions, and other events. 

About Rail Baltica
Rail Baltica is one of Europe's largest high-speed infrastructure projects, aiming to establish a modern and sustainable rail link that connects the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania with the European rail network. It is also part of the trans-European transport corridor.

Rail Baltica will be a fully electrified, double-track railway with a standard gauge of 1435 mm and will be equipped with ERTMS (European Rail Traffic Management System) and designed to meet European standards. With a design speed of 249 km/h, Rail Baltica will significantly reduce travel times between the Baltic States and major European cities. It will serve as modern infrastructure for passenger, freight, and military mobility, promoting accessibility and facilitating business, tourism, and cultural exchange. 

Additionally, the project will enhance the Baltic region's position as a vital transit hub, fostering stronger trade connections and promoting regional cooperation.

About RB Rail AS

RB Rail AS is a multinational joint venture of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania established to lead and coordinate the implementation of the Rail Baltica Global Project, the first infrastructure development project of this scale in the Baltic region. More about the Rail Baltica global project: www.railbaltica.org


Photo: (from left to right) Marius Skuodis, Minister of Transport and Communications of Lithuania, Keit Kasemets, State Secretary of the Ministry of Climate of Estonia, Kaspars Briškens, Minister of Transport of Latvia, Emilien Dang, Chief Technical Officer and Member of the Management Board at the joint venture RB Rail AS, Herald Ruijters, Director of the Investment, Innovative and Sustainable Transport Department at the Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport (DG MOVE)