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Estonia's section of Rail Baltic to cost around €3 billion

Rail Baltic Ülemiste terminal construction site.
Rail Baltic Ülemiste terminal construction site. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Recent estimates put the cost of building the Estonian segment of Rail Baltic at €3 billion, but the construction will only be partially completed by 2030. The savings option will have double-track railways only in certain places, not along the entire route at first.

On Thursday, the government cabinet received an update on the Rail Baltic construction, during which it was asserted that the European high-speed rail connection between Tallinn and Warsaw must be finished by the end of 2030.

With the railroad design completed, the total cost to build the railroad can be approximated.

"Today, it is difficult to say as there are many unsolved issues. If we are talking about the cost of such a route in Estonia only, we are talking about a little less than €3 billion euros, based on current figures," Keit Kasemets, secretary general for the Ministry of Climate, said.

In comparison, the project has already halved in cost and inflation. However, the head of Rail Baltic Estonia, Anvar Salomets, said that the real cost will become clear during the tendering process.

"In terms of pricing levels, we are below our reference prices and, as previously said, the estimate of those actual prices into the total budget is ongoing, so that we could be wiser in terms of the new price levels at the start of the new year," he said.

However, it is already clear that the available funds will not allow everything to be in place by 2030.

"There will be all the local stops, but maybe not all of them very comfortable in terms of getting on and off. The railway embankment and all the adjacent infrastructure will be built out in full, so in any case, this means being prepared to have a double-track railway. The question is whether there will be a double-track railway along the entire route by 2030," Kasemets said.

"In the first decade, a dual-track approach is understandably an excessive luxury. That's why I think we need to invest even wiser today. And in the second or third decade, it will then be possible to start building this second track, section by section," Salomets said.

Kasemets said that the European Commission has continued to reaffirm that Rail Baltic is the highest priority infrastructure project.

€650 million have been invested in the project. It may be possible to get up to €500 million from the European Union budget period ending in 2027, he said, adding that funds will also be needed from the next budget period.

"There is a need to be able to close transactions on a rolling basis to keep up the pace, and the average annual need for this 'keeping up the pace' is €200-300 million," Salomets said.

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Editor: Barbara Oja, Kristina Kersa

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