Rail Baltica project falling behind schedule
21 Feb 2019, 20:29 ( 3 Months ago)
Rail Baltica, the European-gauge railroad project intended to reconnect the Baltic states with the rest of Europe, is falling behind the schedule by 2 to 2.5 years, Latvian Transport Minister Talis Linkaits said on public radio Thursday.
Linkaits also admitted that money shortages are among the reasons delaying work on the project in Latvia.
The delay means that "in all likelihood, the construction works scheduled for 2020 will not be started" next year as planned, the minister said in the interview.
In the minister's words, the European Union (EU) is financing 85 percent of the railroad project's costs but the EU's requirements to the project are growing and so are the costs. "What used to cost 10 euros, now costs 15 euros and more," Linkaits said.
"We are working to secure all the financing, discussing with Brussels and the Baltic states how to use the financing rationally by redistributing the money among the countries, but at the same time, we also look for additional funding, because with EU money alone we will not be able to build anything big," the minister said.
The Rail Baltica project is being developed to reestablish a direct railway connection between the Baltic states and the European railway network. The project is expected to facilitate regional integration by means of a railway link from Helsinki to Tallinn, Riga, Kaunas, Warsaw and Berlin and might potentially be extended to Venice.
The Rail Baltica line, which will run 263 kilometers through Latvian territory, is scheduled for completion in 2026. The project's total costs are estimated at 5.8 billion euros.