Rail Baltica €5.8 million access track repair work starts

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Construction workers working on a rail project. Photo is illustrative. Source: Olev Kenk/ERR

Repair of a section of rail track in southwest Estonia which will be used in the building of the planned high-speed Rail Baltica line will soon be underway. The work is largely funded by the European Union.

The existing line being repaired, running between Lelle, Rapla County, and Pärnu, will not be part of the Rail Baltica route, but instead will be used to transport construction materials for same.

The 40 km/h rail link will primarily convey rail, sleepers, sand and gravel to be used in the Tootsi-Ikla, Pärnu County, section construction of Rail Baltica, which is set to complete in 2024 and will link Tallinn with Warsaw, Poland, via Latvia and Lithuania, slashing existing over-land travel times between the four countries and providing a link to "continental" Europe into Germany and beyond.

Rail sections are up to 50 meters in length, with the total to be laid down on the section in question estimated at 24,000 tons, along with 600,000 tons of crushed stone to be used in ballast.

Some ballast to be used in Rail Baltica will take the form of by-products from the shale oil mining industry based in Ida-Viru County, and road transport will also be needed to bring materials to site, as well as rail links.

Rain Kaarias, manager at rail operator Edelaraudtee, which operates trains on the existing Lelle-Pärnu line, says the work on the latter will be carried out in sections.

He said: "The plan is to replace sleepers, which are currently in poor condition, as well as a small section of rails, to add gravel, to repair switches and crossings, and to reconstruct the Koogiste bridge, in the course of the works."

The work for the Lelle-Pärnu section of line will require several hundred thousand truckloads of delivery, he added.

Edelaraudtee signed a contract with Go Track, developer in the repair work, at the end of 2020, following a €5.8-million tender process organized by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communication. Eighty-one percent of the finance comes from the EU's Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) funding instrument, with the Estonian state financing the remaining 19 percent.

The work will continue through 2021.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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