Ministry: Rail Baltic route will not be changed

A Rail Baltic construction site.
A Rail Baltic construction site. Source: ERR

The construction of the Rail Baltic railroad cannot be diverted to existing railway tracks running through Tartu or Pärnu, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications said.

"It (using existing Tartu or Pärnu railways – ed.) would require changing all domestic and international decisions and launching a completely new planning process," Sander Salmu, the ministry's undersecretary for transport, said in a reply to NGO Eesti Metsa Abiks.

He explained that it was found in the planning process in 2018 that having Rail Baltic follow the existing 1,520-mm track gauge railway between Tallinn and Pärnu would not be justified, while earlier analyses (AECOME 2011) had not supported having it run through Tapa and Tartu.

"We confirm that no such consultations are currently underway, and the ministry sees no need," the deputy secretary general said in their reply.

Helena Eenok, member of NGO Eesti Metsa Abiks, wrote a letter to the ministry to express the nonprofit's concern over building Rail Baltic along a completely new rail corridor, which is set to do irreparable damage to the natural environment. "We find that it is necessary to weigh stopping the construction of Rail Baltic along the planned corridor in today's force majeure situation," the NGO wrote.

Undersecretary Salmu explained in his reply that trains will be traveling at 249 kilometers per hour down the new railway (120 km/h for cargo trains), and that the international agreement is to have two parallel sets of tracks and for the railway to be completely electrified. Rail Baltic will also use the European 1,435-mm track gauge (the Soviet 1,520-mm gauge is used in the Baltics currently). RB will run along 870 km in the Baltics of which 213 km in Estonia (including the cargo branch that starts at Muuga Harbor and the passenger branch from Ülemiste).

"The Rail Baltic route has bee laid down in county plans. The corridor, running from Tallinn to the Latvian border and passing through Pärnu was laid down in a government decision from August 20, 2012 to approve the Estonia 2030+ development plan. County plans were initiated in 2013 and approved with the public administration minister's signature in 2018," the undersecretary said.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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