- - logo.jpg


- - - menu-russia.jpg

Recent Study: The New Rail Baltica Route Is Possible

A summary of a press conference held in the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications regarding the feasibility study by Aecom.

The study of the British consulting firm Aecom indicated, that in case of adequate cargo and passenger capacity and with the European Union's support, the European gauge Rail Baltica railway link through the three Baltic countries is feasible to establish if the EU support is available, making the project profitable.

"This study is a beginning of a very long process. In reality, we can talk about the completion of a new railway from year 2025," said the Estonian Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications Juhan Parts. "Now it is a place to make a decision for the three Baltic States, whether and how to go forward with the project." 

Estonia sees the solution as moving the previously project-based leadership to joint venture development, where all three countries contribute equally. The companies would need 5-6 years of preparatory work to reach the point where you can make the decision of financing.

"In particular, the Rail Baltica from Tallinn Scandinavian-Baltic region will become an important node in land transport, which resolves long-standing concerns regarding the issue of how to quickly get to Western Europe on land," said Parts. "But at the same time we have to take a very serious look at all the difficulties, particularly in regards to funding."

At the same time minister Parts confirmed, that the state will continue development of the current infrastructure. "By 2014, Estonia will have new passenger trains, and this gives us the opportunity to double the current passenger volumes. Rail Baltica will not lose today’s existing routes, but will provide new access," he added.

The initial task of the study was to examine the standards based on the 1435 mm (the so-called European gauge) two-gauge, electrified railway construction and the possibility of an optimal route from Tallinn to the Lithuanian-Polish border, which can be used for both passengers and goods.

The study shows that the profitability of the project depends mainly on two factors: the volume of passengers and freight, and the European Union's support. Assuming, for example, that in 2030 there will be approximately 5000 passengers a day between Tallinn and Pärnu and about 3500 between Pärnu and Riga, with a yearly movement of some 13 million tons of cargo along the route, then EU support for the whole project would be profitable.

The most optimal route of the Rail Baltica would run 728 kilometers to the Polish border on the Tallinn-Pärnu-Riga-Panevezys-Kaunas trajectory. The distance takes a little more than four hours for passenger train and trains would travel six days a week every second hour. Freight trains would ride at night, and it would take more than 10 hours to travel this distance. Assuming that the track would run to Poland, this would make about a six hour train trip to Warsaw.

Total cost as shown by the study for the railway infrastructure would be 3.7 billion Euros in current prices, of which the Estonian share is 1.04 billion Euros. The European Union is considered to support the project with two billion Euros by the study.

The study was funded 50% by the EU TEN-T budget, the remainder being covered by the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian authorities. The study was conducted between April 2010 and June 2011. Aecom points out in the report, that the results are preliminary and very general. In the next phase of developing Rail Baltica, the preferred route as well as the resulting costs, revenues and a potential business model should be made clear.