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To mark the European Year of Rail, M. Skuodis and the Latvian and Estonian ministers will ride a special train that will connect the capitals of the Baltic States for the first time

Date

2021 09 20

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On 21 September, with the participation of the Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian ministers of transport, a special Baltic railway express will take the route Tallinn–Riga–Vilnius for the first time that will mark the strengthening relationship between the region and the whole Europe in the area of rail transport. During the trip, together with the heads and international experts of the European Commission (EC) and Baltic rail companies, the ministers will discuss the potential of the Rail Baltica project as regards sustainable mobility and economic growth, they will also prepare a time capsule in the construction site of the Riga station for future generations.

On September 22, the Baltic train will continue its journey from Vilnius to Kaunas, where a symbolic encounter with the Connecting Europe Express train coming from Poland and travelling through Europe from Lisbon will ensue.

“For the Baltic Region, which is implementing the Rail Baltica project, this encounter of the EC and the Baltic trains is a significant event, which represents our aim to seamlessly integrate into the European rail network and become the connection of different track gauges between the East and the West, the North and the South. At the same time, it is a strong declaration to Europe showing the importance of the high-speed railway project Rail Baltica, which will transform the image of the whole region. Finally, it is a wonderful initiative in celebration of the European Year of Rail,” says Minister of Transport and Communications Marius Skuodis.

According to CEO of the Lithuanian Railways Mantas Bartuška, the encounter between the trains of the Western European connection and the Baltic Region conveys another important message: promoting more active use of a safe and eco-friendly mode of transport – trains – for travelling and freight transportation.

“Railways are one of the greenest, safest and most innovative means of transport that could play a key role in the transition to sustainable and advanced mobility. Our values are in line with the Green Deal announced by the EC – we are encouraging green mobility through various initiatives on our part. Whereas the Rail Baltica project will contribute to the common goal of the EU states by promoting travelling by train,” assures the CEO of the Lithuanian Railways.

Coordinator for the TEN-T North Sea-Baltic Corridor Catherine Trautmann, Director-General of the EC department for Mobility and Transport Henrik Hololei, representatives of the Baltic and the Finnish railway sectors will also be onboard the Baltic express.

During the trip connecting the Baltic States, three discussions and forums will take place: 1) on the role and contribution of railways to the social and economic development of European regions and sustainable mobility, 2) on the perspectives of the development of the territories of railway stations in cities, and 3) on the possibilities of freight transportation via the transport corridors of Rail Baltica and the North Sea. 

The main special stops will be Tartu, Riga and Kaunas. In Tartu, the travellers will be greeted by the mayor of the city, and the guests will visit the reconstructed railway station, as Tartu will be the European Capital of Culture in 2024. A solemn ceremony for the preparation of the time capsule will be held in Riga, and the symbolic encounter between the European and the Baltic trains is planned in Kaunas railway station.

2021 has been declared as the European Year of Rail to encourage more people to travel by trains, and for businesses to transport freight via railways.