Ministry official: Finland still part of Rail Baltica project ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Rail Baltica groundwork already underway.
Rail Baltica groundwork already underway. Source: ERR

Finland has not given up on the plan to join RB Rail, the joint venture of the Baltic countries established to coordinate the construction of the Rail Baltica railroad; it has simply postponed joining in the near future, said Kristjan Kaunissaare, project coordinator for Rail Baltica at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications.

According to Kaunissaare, Finland's new government is faced with very expensive domestic railroad projects that have been agreed upon in the coalition agreement.

"Finland is planning to build a railroad between Helsinki and Turku that would take passengers from one city to the other in one hour, a Helsinki/Vantaa-Tampere railroad as well as a railroad going east," Kaunissaare told BNS. "As these are high-priority and large-scale investments originating from the coalition agreement, the government decided that Finland would not be joining the RB joint venture at this time. The assets of Pohjolan Rautatiet Oy are needed for realizing domestic railroad connections instead."

Nonetheless, Kaunissaare said that the Finns are still interested in the project, and they are still part of Rail Baltica.

"Finland has been an observer on the supervisory board of RB Rail AS since the establishment of the company, while various Finnish ministers have also signed several declarations concerning RB," he explained. "Finland and Poland, along with the European Commission and representatives of the three Baltic countries, are taking part in the work of RB. Finland coming on as a shareholder would have simply been a step forward."

Cooperation with the Finns will continue, and Finland's opportunity to sign on as a shareholder will remain on the table in future discussions as well, the coordinator stressed. "Thus, the Finns will continue to be included in the RB establishment process during the new government as well; it is just that one step beneficial to both us and the Finns has been postponed," he added.

Finland announced in February that it would become a shareholder in Rail Baltica. Following the spring parliamentary elections, however, the new Finnish government decided to annul this decision. Finnish media reported at the time that according to a study commissioned by the government, the Baltic countries are not sufficiently committed to the project.

Juha Parantainen, senior ministerial adviser at the Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communications as well as the Finnish representative on the management board of RB Rail, has said that the state wants to focus on national projects first.

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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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