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Number of wildlife crossings on Rail Baltic route may be reduced

A wildlife crossing over Tallinn-Tartu Highway located in Kolu village, Harju County. Sept. 26, 2016.
A wildlife crossing over Tallinn-Tartu Highway located in Kolu village, Harju County. Sept. 26, 2016. Source: (Eero Vabamägi/Postimees/Scanpix)

As wild game have not adopted the use of existing wildlife crossings to the expected extent, the number of such crossings planned for the Rail Baltic route may be reduced, which would in turn have a positive impact on the project's budget. A decision will be made based on the results of further studies.

Introducing the railway's project analysis, Rail Baltic Estonia OÜ chief Indrek Orav said that non-project environmental specialists have evaluated wild game animals' use of wildlife crossings to be below the desired limit. In other words, large game animals have not embraced the use of existing wildlife crossings, which is why there is no point in building as many of them along the railway's route as initially planned.

As the construction of a single wildlife crossing costs over €2 million, reducing the total number of such crossings would have a positive impact on the overall Rail Baltic budget. The final decision regarding how many wildlife crossings are to be constructed will be made based on the results of additional studies on boundary fences.

Freight terminal serving Muuga harbor in need of location

Likewise in need of a solution is the matter of a freight connection between Rail Baltic's Tallinn terminal and Muuga Harbor east of Tallinn. Deutsche Bahn, the winner of the survey procurement, is cooperating with partners in seeking the best technological and economic opportunities for linking the Rail Baltic Tallinn freight terminal with Muuga Harbor's infrastructure.

In doing so, it must be ensured that trade routes pass through the Estonian capital not only in north-south but also east-west directions, which is why a location must be found for the freight terminal which would allow for such traffic.

Archaeological studies must also still be conducted and the means of compensation for potential negative effects be decided.

Latvia, Lithuania waiting on Estonia

RB Rail AS CEO Baiba Rubesa stressed that the parliaments of Latvia and Lithuania have already confirmed and approved the two countries' respective sections of the Rail Baltic route and that they are now expecting the Riigikogu to do the same, as calculations of surveys and plans cannot otherwise continue in detail.

Rail Baltic's Estonian route must be finalized and approved by the Riigikogu by the first quarter of next year at the latest in order to avoid the project stalling.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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