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Discussions still underway for Pärnu County's Rail Baltic section route

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

An agreement on the route of Rail Baltic through Pärnu County has not yet been reached and meetings about its environmental impact are still being held. The plans should be announced at the start of 2024.

Several proposed routes have already been deemed unsuitable, including those located in Saarde and Häädemeeeste municipalities.

The region's residents could view the plans and updates in Pärnu until the end of last week. Public discussions also took place this week in Kilingi-Nõmme and in Häädemeeste Municipality

Wednesday's "Aktuaalne kaamera" spoke to people in Saarde municipality who said the process seems drawn out.

There are concerns the pink route (map below), which is viewed as the most suitable, will be chosen. This is a popular area for bird watchers.

Rail Baltic route options. Autor/allikas: ERR

"Unfortunately, we have not come very far in three years. Yesterday we had a meeting to present the changes to the Rail Baltic environmental impact program, and a significant number of interested parties were already experienced [with the process]. And the unfortunate fact is that, to date, six route options have been taken off the table, all of which, in fact, now need to be re-evaluated," said Kadri-Aija Viik, deputy chairman of the Saarde Municipal Council.

Villagers do not want to accept the route which will go through fields and close to other population areas.

Jaanus Männik, a member of the Saarde municipal council, said this is the Pärnu end of the municipality, where young families are building new homes.

But no route has been chosen yet and more analysis will be carried out.

The Rail Baltic route. Source: Rail Baltica

Head of planning at the Ministry of Rural Affairs Eleri Kautlenbach said three routes are still being considered.

"And for these three route alternatives, we will start to assess the impacts in the coming months, specifically from the social and economic aspects. If so far we have looked at the impact of the proposed railway on the natural environment, we are now going to look at the impact of the proposed railway on people," he said.

The pink route is being evaluated along with two others, said Kautlenbach.

When completed, Rail Baltic will run from Tallinn to the Latvian border, to Riga, to Kaunas in Lithuania, and finally join up with the railway network at the Lithuanian-Polish border to continue onto Warsaw.

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Editor: Merili Nael, Helen Wright

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