The European Parliament has given the green-light to funding which will provide the bulk of the support for the planned Rail Baltica high speed link.
Rail Baltica construction across all three Baltic States has been estimated at around €6 billion, with the EU ready to put up 85 percent of that. The Estonian component of the line, from the northernmost terminal at Ülemiste, on the southern approaches of Tallinn, to the Latvian border, is projected to cost €1.6 billion, while €318 million is earmarked for Estonia's mandatory funding of the project, ERR reports, citing Rail Baltic's own website.
The proposed Rail Baltica link, sometimes known in Estonia as Rail Baltic, will connect the three Baltic capitals (with an extension to Vilnius) to Warsaw, Poland.
The preparation and construction period lasts a decade, while some of the funding required the go-ahead from the European Parliament via the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), whose approval was indeed given on Wednesday.
The CEF provides €30 billion across the union for transport networks, and also digital projects and energy issues, between 2021 and 2027.
The latter would include alternative fuel loading infrastructures and 5G coverage along important transport axes, by 2030, the European Parliament's press service says.
The energy component of the CEF comes to €5 billion, while €2 billion will go to the digital segment, meaning most of the fund is earmarked for transport, primarily cross-border transport.
In turn, €10 billion of the €23 billion transport component originates from the EU's Cohesion Fund, ERR reports, while a further €1.4 billion is going towards major cross-border rail projects.
The parliament has also approved rules for the Trans-European Network for Transport (TEN-T), which will help to simplify authorization procedures for transnational transport projects and thus speed up their construction.
Under these rules, EU member states must designate one national contact for each project promoter, and ensure that it does not take more than four years for authorization for starting a project to go ahead. Member States have two years to harmonize TEN-T rules.
The CEF enters into force after its publication in the EU's Official Journal and will be applied retroactively from January 1 this year.
The CEF will enter into force after the publication of the Regulation in the Official Journal of the European Union and will apply retroactively from 1 January 2021.
Engineering and surveying work has already started in Estonia ahead of the Rail Baltic line being laid down. This includes underpinnings in some of Estonia's notoriously boggy terrain.
Editor: Andrew Whyte