The Baltic States will develop a new route for passenger trains
The transport ministers of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia have agreed to introduce a new passenger train on the Tallinn-Riga-Vilnius railway route, creating a North-South transport corridor in order to create additional transport links with Ukraine. This broad-gauge passenger service will be built in front of Rail Baltica’s standard gauge line, for which ministers have discussed ways to speed up the project, Railway Supply magazine reports, citing Railway Pro.
During a meeting in Tallinn, Lithuanian Minister of Transport Marius Skuodis, Latvian Minister Janis Vitenbergs and Estonian Minister Riina Sikkut signed an agreement on the creation of a new corridor.
On the Lithuanian side, such train traffic could begin in the near future, but, according to the Lithuanian minister, this would require the joint consent of all the Baltic countries. Such a train will be a natural addition to the rail service from Vilnius to Warsaw and Krakow, which was launched in December 2022.
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Completion of the Rail Baltica project is the top geopolitical and economic priority for the Baltic States. However, while Rail Baltica is being built, the countries are considering the possibility of transporting passengers on the existing Tallinn-Riga-Vilnius railway route. It is only necessary to agree on the conditions under which this can happen, and use existing routes, adapting them accordingly.
Regarding the implementation of Rail Baltica, Lithuania intends to complete the construction of the corridor on its territory as early as possible and establish a link with Poland by 2028.
At the beginning of this year, Lithuania, together with Latvia, Estonia and the joint venture of the Baltic States RB Rail AS, applied for additional EU funding for the implementation of the European gauge railroad Rail Baltica. The total cost of the application of the three Baltic countries is 1.15 billion euros, of which 400 million euros directly fall to the share of Lithuania.
The Baltic Ministers also stressed that at a time when the intensive construction of Rail Baltica is under way, a joint plan of the Baltic countries is needed for a coordinated transition of the Baltic railway network to the European gauge. In addition, the creation of a joint operational group will increase the independence of the Baltic railway sector in the near future.
The meeting also noted the need for cooperation between the Baltic countries on the development of transport corridors of the Baltic, Black and Adriatic seas and additional connections to improve communication with both Western Europe and Ukraine. In 2022, since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Lithuanian Railways has already operated about 150 trains between Lithuania and Ukraine.
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