The Estonian government at its Thursday meeting approved the 2021 report and current interim report for the Rail Baltic railway project. Last year, design work for the project continued, construction began on five planned viaducts and wildlife crossings, and the railway from Lelle to Pärnu was reconstructed for freight transport.
The construction market is currently faced with a significant amount of uncertainty, Minister of Justice Maris Lauri (Reform), currently serving as acting minister of economic affairs and infrastructure, said according to a press release.
"Rapid price increases in the construction sector are a concern," Lauri said. "Nonetheless, it's worth remembering that a high-speed European gauge railway is vital to Estonian security as well. It can be seen from the overview that work is progressing at a moderate pace. Soon we'll be seeing construction work from Tallinn all the way to Ikla."
Last year saw the completion of the plans for passenger terminals in Pärnu and at Ülemiste in Tallinn as well as for the Old Harbor tram extension in the Estonian capital. The hope is for construction on each of these projects to begin this year.
"Should the construction market with its changed prices allow for it, we'll soon be seeing how the construction of Rail Baltic will change both Tallinn and Pärnu's urban spaces," Lauri said, highlighting that getting around Tallinn will be smoother and more logical once the tram line serving Tallinn Airport is extended to the city's port.
Planning of the future railway's main route and related land acquisition efforts both remain underway as well.
In 2021, more than 200 properties necessary for the construction of the rail project were acquired, and according to the acting infrastructure minister, once the project's plans have been completed, the land acquisition process can continue as well.
Scheduled to begin this year is construction on ten viaducts and four wildlife crossings. Planning is also currently underway for 12 local rail stops within Estonia: Ülemiste (Linda), Assaku, Luige, Saku, Kurtna, Kohila, Rapla, Järvakandi, Kaisma, Tootsi, Urge, Pärnu, Surju and Häädemeeste.
Estonian electricity and gas system operator Elering is also continuing work this year on relocating high-voltage power lines in Pärnu County, and public procurements are slated to be announced for the relocation of gas and high-voltage power lines in other counties along the route.
Revision of Rail Baltic's Pärnu county plan and design work for all three sections of the main railway — Harju-Rapla, Rapla-Pärnu (Tootsi) and Pärnu (Tootsi)-Ikla — are likewise all slated to continue.
According to a public opinion poll commissioned by Rail Baltic Estonia and conducted by Faktum-Ariko this April, 69 percent of Estonian residents support the construction of Rail Baltic, and 72 percent of respondents indicated they see a positive impact being made by the planned railway project.
Editor: Aili Vahtla