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National Roundtable on Rail Baltic in Kaunas

KAUNAS, 01.08.2013

Kaunas will be the only point in the modern transport line going through several different countries where the Russian gauge track will meet with the European one. Starting from 2015, when the European gauge railway line will be completed up to Kaunas, a more rapid development of the city will be stimulated - Kaunas will become easier accessible and more known internationally.

This was the topic of the discussion on the roundtable conference on the development of Rail Baltica railway held in Kaunas City Municipality on 1st of August as a part of the project “ Rail Baltica Growth Corridor”. During this meeting, the feasibility study of Kaunas Public Logistic Centre and the infrastructure located in its area of influence was presented, and relevant issues related to this centre and the development of the Rail Baltica were discussed.

“This project should be an issue of importance to the whole Lithuania since it is significant not only for our country or the neighbouring countries, but also for the whole Europe. I am happy to see that the company Lietuvos Geležinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways) has been consistently carrying out the work. Currently, feasibility studies are being done, and agreements with contractors are being signed, discussions are taking place. All this will help to find the best solution that will ensure successful implementation of the project “, said Andrius Kupčinskas, Mayor of Kaunas Municipality.

The Vice-Minister of transport Saulius Girdauskas stressed that the railway section between Šeštokai and Mockava has already been completed. According to Vice-Minister, reconstruction works of other railway sections and construction of new railway in accordance with the European standard gauge that will soon start, give an optimistic view of the situation.

“In 2015, the European-gauge track is planned to reach the city of Kaunas, which will be an intermediary point to reach the rest of Europe, and stimulate the cargo flows. In September 2013, we are planning to sign a declaration of the three Baltic States that will help to continue the work; Finland and Poland will act as consultants. I hope that soon we will be connected to Europe, and be able to travel much faster and more comfortably", said Mr. Girdauskas.

Adviser of European Commission DG MOVE James Pond, explained that the representatives of the countries participating in the Rail Baltica project met in Brussels in late July. “The negotiations were not easy, however we received many creative suggestions that we took into account. The representatives of Latvia, Estonia, Lithuanian, and Finland agreed to sign a declaration. Thus, after the end of summer but no later than mid-September, a common agreement will be signed. The declaration will be used for preparing the Statute of the Joint Venture, after which it will be possible to apply for funding“, said the adviser of the European Commission.

“Kaunas will become one of the most important railway stations on the Rail Baltica since the city is in a strategically favourable location and lies at the crossroads between South and North, East and West. In the near future we will be able to cover the distance between Berlin and Tallinn in six hours, not in six days”, added James Pond.

The representative of Lietuvos Geležinkeliai Vidas Žvinys, emphasized that the main indicator of the Rail Baltica project benefit is the speed of trains on the European-gauge railway. For the time being, the speed of trains between the Lithuanian cities that will be connected by this railway is 50 km/h. After the implementation of the project the average speed for passenger trains is planned to be 120 km/h, and approximately 80 km/h for freight trains.

The Rail Baltic railway that meets the standards of EU has been acknowledged to be a priority project of trans-European transport network. This railway is aimed at connecting Poland, the Baltic States and Finland, and improving the link between Middle and Eastern Europe and Germany.

The conference also discussed branding of the new Rail Baltic. Project Manager Malla Paajanen representing Aalto University gave a presentation on the new development project funded by the Seed Money Facility of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region.