R. Masiulis to European Commission: Lithuania is ready to assume leadership of the “Rail Baltica“ project

Date

2019 03 08

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Since the negotiations on a new European Union financial perspective for 2021-2027 are becoming more intensive, Lithuania has informed the European Commission about the successful and timely implementation of the project activities.

"Rail Baltica" is a strategic project for Lithuania. We are rapidly moving forward in implementing the project activities and making plans for the future, and at some stages, we are leading. We are determined to contribute to the joint project solutions that are important to our neighbours, to ensure the success of the whole project and its timely implementation“, said the Baltic country‘s Minister of Transport and Communications, Rokas Masiulis.

In his letter to the European Commission, Minister of Transport and Communications presented the follow-up project plans that will be implemented after the Union's financial support is ensured.

“Investment benefits will be felt much sooner than the project itself will be completed. Taking into consideration "Rail Baltica" funding opportunities, we reached an agreement with the European Commission on the project implementation in stages. The next stage in Lithuania is the connection of the railway trackside with a 1,435 mm-wide track gauge to the Kaunas intermodal terminal in Palemonas through the Kaunas central station and the railway section Rokai–Palemonas, and the installation of the infrastructure. Already after a few years, rail carriers will be able to use the created infrastructure, besides, the development of the logistics and the related business will be encouraged, and we will be able to deliver tangible results of the project ", said R. Masiulis.

Addressing the European Commission, R. Masiulis, Minister of Transport and Communications, emphasized the importance of “Rail Baltica” railway for national security – the Lithuanian Government views the project as a priority item when considering the development of the strategic transport infrastructure to ensure NATO troops, weapons and equipment mobility. During the discussion of the project with Lithuania, allies have repeatedly emphasized the strategically important role of Kaunas railway junction development in this project, as the construction of the European track stretching to Kaunas intermodal terminal will allow the transportation military cargo to the geographical centre of Lithuania, which is necessary to ensure Lithuania and the entire region’s security.

As we approach 2020, the year when the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) funds unused within the EU will be reallocated, the Ministry of Transport and Communications is planning further “Rail Baltica” implementation stages and activities: spatial planning in the Kaunas–Vilnius railway section, land acquisition and design works in the railway sections stretching from the Lithuanian-Polish state border to Kaunas, as well as in the Vilnius-Kaunas railway section, and other construction stages in the Kaunas–the Lithuanian-Latvian border railway section.

According to the Minister, the European Union’s financial support provided to “Rail Baltica” project will be particularly important both for the preparation of calls for proposals and the preparation for the years 2021-2027, including the necessary funding for the Kaunas–Vilnius railway connection, which will be integrated into the entire cross-border project. Ensuring funds will be very important in order to complete the project on schedule.

“Rail Baltica“ stages in Lithuania

The Kaunas railway junction

The construction works in the rail connection Kaunas central station–Palemonas started in 2018. The construction procurement procedure in relation with the Rokai–Palemonas railway section is in progress, and the contract on construction works implementation is expected to be signed in May this year.

The Polish-Lithuanian state border–Kaunas railway section

In December 2018, spatial planning procedures were launched. It is likely that the procedures will be completed in 2021. It is planned to apply to CEF for funding for land taking and design works in 2020.

The Kaunas–Vilnius railway section

The European Commission confirmed that the Kaunas–Vilnius railway section corresponds to the criteria necessary for CEF funding. This connection will be added to the CEF regulation after 2021 as an integral part of the cross-border project "Rail Baltica". The spatial planning procedures related to the railway section, initiated together with equivalent procedures related to other sections, are expected to be finished by 2021. As in cases mentioned above, it is planned to apply to the CEF for funding for land taking and design works in 2020.

The Kaunas–Lithuanian-Latvian state border railways section

The preparation for construction work in progress. A contractor has been elected who will draw up a detailed technical design. The Lithuanian Government approved the special plan relating to this railway section, allowing the execution of the land taking procedures necessary for the construction of this railway trackside. In accordance with the implementation schedule, the preparations will be completed of application submission to the CEF in 2020 for other “Rail Baltica” project implementation stages, including the development of Panevėžys railway station infrastructure.