When speaking about Rail Baltic, its role in increasing Estonia's security should not be forgotten, European Commission Director-General for Mobility and Transport Henrik Hololei told Pärnu Postimees.
"If we take a broader view, Rail Baltic will help save the environment," said Hololei. "As goods will be moving by railway instead of road, it will create jobs and opportunities for passengers. The security policy dimension is worth highlighting, because infrastructure projects which connect several European countries are always of strategic importance. Connection with the rest of Europe increases security."
That there is popular opposition to large-scale infrastructure projects is typical and understandable, according to Hololei. "There is not a single large-scale infrastructure project in the world that doesn't have opponents," he said. "If there will be no Rail Baltic, the money will go elsewhere: to the rest of European countries, to support other large scale projects. There are many parties out there eager to get it."
The director-general noted that it made him sad that those very opposed to the project are not offering a single idea directed to the future. "Being against everything and doing everything the old way is the simplest thing to do, but it is a fact that unfortunately this does not move us forward or create new opportunities in the economy," he said.
Athough the cost-benefit analysis conducted by Ernst & Young (EY) pays a great deal of attention to the socio-economic effects of the project, the survey has been conducted in accordance with the guidelines for feasibility analyses of infrastructure projects issued by the European Commission's Directorate General for Regional Policy, which serve as a basis for analyses concerning other EU-financed projects as well.
"This is absolutely sufficient for the European Commission to evaluate the project," Hololei confirmed.
RB Rail is a joint venture established by the three Baltic countries in October 2014. The Rail Baltic project seeks to set up a direct railway connection between the Baltic states and the European railway network enabling speeds of up to 240 kilometers per hour for passenger trains and 120 kilometers per hour for freight trains.
Editor: Aili Vahtla