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Rail Baltica receives an extra 606 million euro in funding from the EU

Date

2020 07 17

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The European Commission has finished evaluating applications as per the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), and the Rail Baltica project in the Baltic States and Poland has received significant extra funding – over 606 million euro. In Lithuania, the allocated financing will be used for preparing plans for the European standard gauge Rail Baltica railway and infrastructure and development contracting works.

Coordinator RB Rail – submitted inquiries to the European Commission over extra financing for the Rail Baltica project in the Baltic states. The combined financing required for the project from the EU that was indicated in the countries’ application was 664.1 million euro, of which 278.9 million euro is Lithuania’s part. However, so far, only a part of the sum has been approved, respectively 183.8 million euro for all applicants, of which 30.4 million euro would go to Lithuania. It is planned that the project partners will still be able to negotiate between one another on redistributing the financing between the project countries as per the mutually agreed upon priorities for the Rail Baltica project.  

“The fact that the European Commission is upholding its commitments even in the face of the COVID-19 crisis, which demands massive extra resources, evokes positive sentiment. It means that Rail Baltica is viewed as a mature project and remains a priority for the entire union,” Republic of Lithuania Minister of Transport Jaroslav Narkevič noted. “Nevertheless, the latest decision by EU institutions to allocate for Lithuania a far lesser than the requested sum could limit our capabilities to perform works in line with planned deadlines and extents. As such, we will have to perform risk evaluations because, with the EU not allocating necessary financing in time, we may be unable to begin work planned for the closest deadlines and thus be unable to complete the project by its planned date, which is by 2026. As our ambitions for the project are not decreasing, we hope that in the near future, the remaining part of the requested financing will also be allocated. The Rail Baltica stretch from Kaunas to the Lithuanian-Latvian state border remains a priority for us. Currently, we have completed consultations with construction companies on public tenders for the purchase of contracting works and contracting tenders have been launched. However, we will only be able to accomplish the work to the extent that we have received funding.”  

He also added that the European Commission’s particular attention to the Rail Baltica project is displayed in that more than half of this period’s CEF budget is allocated to it – 606 million euro out of 1.14 billion euro. More than 422 million euro has been allocated to project works in Poland. This will provide the opportunity for the residents of the Baltic States to reach Warsaw and other European countries faster.

The minister of transport and communications was echoed by AB Lietuvos Geležinkeliai (LTG) director-general Mantas Bartuška: “The allocation of extra financing is the best indicator that EU support for implementing the largest railway infrastructure project in the history of the Baltic States is not waning. As of currently, we can conclude that we are performing much preparatory work and in the near future, we could implement far more activities than through the previously allocated financing. The Rail Baltica stretch from Kaunas to the Lithuanian-Latvian state border remains a priority. Currently, we have concluded consultations with construction companies on public tenders for contracting works and have announced contracting tenders. However, we will only be able to perform the works to the extent that we have received funding. As such, timely and sufficient financing is a key condition for the project to be implemented as per the established budget and deadlines, namely by the year 2026.”

The expected value of works on Rail Baltica in the Baltic States reach 5.8 billion euro, it is the largest investment aimed at increasing mobility and travel opportunities, developing business, tourism and goods exchange in the region. It is planned that EU support for this project across the entire period should reach around 4.9 billion euro.

With this latest EU financing allocation, the Rail Baltica project has secured a total of 942 million euro in EU support or 19% of all the financing needed from the EU. Of the 2.1 billion euro needed by Lithuania, it has secured 339 million euro thus far. “We hope that negotiations on the next EU Multiannual Financial Framework will be successful and this priority EU project will receive the necessary financing,” Minister of Transport and Communications Jaroslav Narkevič added.

 About the Rail Baltica project

 Rail Baltica is the largest railway infrastructure project in the Baltic States’ history. In implementing it, across the Rail Baltica route, an electrified European standard gauge railway line will be laid down, ranging from Warsaw through Kaunas to Riga and onward to Tallinn, with a branch to Vilnius. This will ensure all three Baltic States capitals will be connected via the railway line. The combined length of the Rail Baltica railway line across the Baltics reaches 870 km: 392 km in Lithuania, 265 km in Latvia and 213 km in Estonia.