RIGA - The European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency will award over EUR 350 million to the Rail Baltica project in the first call of the European Union's (EU) new financial period 2021-2027, LETA was told at RB Rail, the Baltic joint venture coordinating the railway project's implementation.
Together with the three Baltic states' national co-funding the sum will exceed EUR 400 million.
The European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA) received 399 proposals, for a total of EUR 14 billion of requested co-funding. Out of these 135 project proposals were selected for funding of a total EUR 5.4 billion across all EU member states. The amount allocated to the Rail Baltica project is the third largest among all projects.
The Grant Agreement is scheduled for signing in the third quarter of 2022.
Activities under the agreement include remaining Rail Baltica mainline designs in Lithuania, including for the section between the Polish and Lithuanian state border and Kaunas urban node, Kaunas urban node, mainline section between Kaunas urban node and Vilnius urban node, and design of Vilnius urban node.
The allocated funding will also cover the start of construction works in Rail Baltica mainline on the priority section in Latvia near the Latvian / Lithuanian border and development of detailed technical design for the Construction base in Skulte infrastructure maintenance facility, as well as construction of substructure and associated elements on the Rail Baltica mainline in Estonia, including Ulemiste operational point and design works for capercaillie mitigation measures from Parnu to the Estonia/Latvia border.
The grant will also finance activities aimed to ensure cross-border dimension and technical interoperability, including Notified Body (NoBo) and Assessment Body (AsBo) assessment services for Design and Construction works, design author supervision of detailed technical design implementation during construction, supervision of construction works by Resident Engineer (FIDIC), as well as analysing the relevant models for the cross-border section construction procurement. Also, an activity dedicated to climate proofing methodology development and screening proofing document, including verification process, is recommended for financing.
Agnis Driksna, Chairman of the Management Board and CEO at RB Rail, indicated that in recent years the Baltic states have shown commitment to delivery and progress – design works are progressing in 640 km of the 870 km Rail Baltica line, prioritizing completion of works in sections chosen for construction, and the design and design supervision procurements for Kaunas – Vilnius and Kaunas –Lithuania/Poland border have been launched.
First construction works are progressing in all participating states in some of the most complex elements of the mainline, and construction procurements have been announced allowing further large-scale main line construction works to commence when designs and land acquisition is completed, Driksna, said.
“In addition, numerous actions at national level are progressing to address the project acceleration needs, including legislation improvements and key project partners being mobilized for timely decision-making for the key project implementation issues," the RB Rail CEO said.
Given that this application was submitted based on the conditions defined in the summer of 2021, the next financing call in 2022 is expected to reflect funding conditions and necessary flexibility to accelerate particularly mature and EU-level strategic activities in the post-24 February 2022 situation. The activities applied for but not receiving financing under the 2021 Call and will be applied in the next call.
“This first grant under the new Connecting Europe Facility 2021-2027 shows the continuation of the Commission’s support to the project, which has become more important than ever in the current geopolitical situation. It will allow the project to continue its smooth implementation. As the maturity of the project will increase further, we expect further applications for funding in the next call for proposals,” said Catherine Trautmann, European Coordinator for the North-Sea Baltic TEN-T Corridor.
The project partners are meeting during the Connecting Europe Days, Europe's mobility flagship event, from June 28 to 30 in Lyon, France, to discuss concrete steps to mitigate the negative effects of the geopolitical situation, as well as opportunities to strengthen the implementation of Rail Baltica at Baltic and EU level.
“We appreciate the received funding recommendations that will allow to ensure further implementation of those project activities where sufficient maturity level has been achieved, including considering absorption levels of the already granted financing. At the same time, with the completion of the design works and progress in the procurement of construction contracts, Rail Baltica global project will be ready for even more ambitious program for the next financing call corresponding to the Rail Baltica global project’s maturity and target to ensure the cross-border connection by 2030 as defined at EU,” Driksna said.
This considerable financing will be added to the already available financing from the 2014-2021 financial period where more than EUR 1.2 billion is available for Rail Baltica implementation, out of which 85 percent comes from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF)).
Rail Baltica is the largest railway infrastructure project in the Baltic states and a key project of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) North Sea-Baltic Corridor, which aims to integrate the Baltic States into a single European railway network.
The project involves five EU member states: Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, and, indirectly, Finland.