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Minister: Rail Baltic Requires Huge Commitment

New trains to arrive on Estonian railroads in 2012 will be part of revamping the service
New trains to arrive on Estonian railroads in 2012 will be part of revamping the service Source: Photo: Courtesy of the Economic Affairs and Communications Ministry

A rail project linking the Baltics from Tallinn to the Polish border is a realistic possibility, but will require 4,000 passengers a day, 440 million euros in state backing and 2 billion euros from the EU, according to a new feasibility study.

Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications Juhan Parts said on June 29 that the project, which could cut ground travel time to Riga and Poland in half, would require six things to happen. 

Besides the passenger numbers and EU and national money, the project would be justified by a annual freight volume of 9 million tons. And Parts said the other Baltics and smooth cooperation would be a necessity, along with a 10-year commitment from the Estonian government and public

Parts's points - six in all - are based on the findings of a study from a UK consultancy, Aecom, that deemed the Rail Baltica link feasible and profitable.

Parts stressed it is a long-term project, with completion slated for around 2025.

Estonia backs a model where a centrally managed joint venture would drive the project, with equal contributions from all three countries, and discourages a "meet in the middle" approach. A decision on financing would come in five or six years. 

The ideal route for the Rail Baltic line would parallel the Via Baltica highway, running through Pärnu, Riga and Kaunas. It would be 728 kilometers long.

The entire route would take 3.7 billion euros in current prices to build, with Estonia's share being 1.04 billion euros.


Kristopher Rikken

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