Government to decide on ratification of Rail Baltic accord Thursday ({{commentsTotal}})

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Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Kadri Simson (Center).
Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Kadri Simson (Center). Source: (Siim Lõvi/ERR)

Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Kadri Simson is to introduce the results of the Rail Baltic feasibility study to the government on Thursday, after which they are to decide whether to forward the bill ratifying the Rail Baltic construction agreement to the Riigikogu.

Although the official agenda has not yet been approved, the government is planning to discuss the Rail Baltic project on Thursday, Tanel Kiik, head of the Office of the Prime Minister, told BNS on Monday. According to the official, Simson is to introduce the results of the Rail Baltic cost-benefit analysis carried out by Ernst & Young (EY).

After the results have been introduced, the government is to likely decide whether it will forward to the Riigikogu the bill on the ratification of the Rail Baltic construction agreement signed by the prime ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania at the end of January.

Simson had previously said that the bill was likely to reach the Riigikogu on May 2.

According to the results of the cost-benefit analysis carried out by EY, the Rail Baltic project is financially and economically viable. The new study reaffirms the project's economic feasibility and highly beneficial nature, providing the necessary updated parameters for the project's continued EU and national co-financing.

While the results of the study were disclosed on Monday, there is still no clarity regarding disclosing the study itself.

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas said at the beginning of the year that the government will put the Rail Baltic agreement before the Riigikogu only after a new feasibility study is completed in April. Ratas did not respond when asked if the government would abandon the Rail Baltic plan if the results of the new study were negative.

The latest estimates put the cost of the international railway project, including the construction of the Kaunas-Vilnius extension, at €5.8 billion, of which Estonia's share is €1.3 billion. The total cost of the works on Estonian territory is projected at €1.3 billion, of which Estonia's contribution is €250 million. Up to 85 percent of Rail Baltic project funding will come from the Connecting Europe Facility.

Simson: Rail Baltic high funding priority for EU

According to Simson, the European Commission as well as countries connected to the project have confirmed that support for the project is very strong. "It is a joint project of the three Baltic countries, but at the same time it is an important priority of the development of the European transport network and the EU supports it very strongly," she said.

The Estonian minister noted that European Coordinator for the North Sea-Baltic Core Network Corridor Catherine Trautmann confirmed to her on Monday that Rail Baltic will be among the highest priorities of the EU transport sector's financing decisions during the next budgetary period as well.

Rail Baltic is the project for the construction of a European-gauge high-speed railroad from Tallinn to Lithuania's border with Poland.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

Source: BNS

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