Source: Ministry of Transport and Communication of the Republic of Latvia, www.sam.gov.lv
The Trans-European railway Rail Baltica, linking Helsinki – Tallinn – Riga – Kaunas – Warsaw and continuing on to Berlin, is to be developed within the territories of the co-operating EU Member States. Rail Baltica will support the wider EU goals of parity of access to services and infrastructure of EU Member States and development of sustainable modes of transportation, improved balance and interoperability between different means of transportation and the establishment of links with the rest of the EU rail network.
Economic integration of Baltic States and Poland with Western Europe leads to growing trade and traffic. Well furnished and sustainable transportation links therefore promote economic growth and integration. While cross-sea ferry traffic in the Baltic Sea Region is growing fast, coast-parallel transport on sea or rail stagnate in contrast to rapidly growing road transport. Passenger railway services from Tallinn to Central/Western Europe ceased. Via Baltica, road and rail, is a priority in the TEN networks, with only road improvements progressing to date. Railway investments concentrate on East-West corridors and neglect the wanted integration within the widened EU.
On 20th-21st September 2001 the project „Rail Baltica” idea was included in the list of the priority projects of spatial planning of the Wismar Declaration signed by the Ministers of the Baltic Sea States responsible for spatial planning development, that was analyzed and defined in the report „Spatial development action programme for Baltic Sea region” (VASAB 2010+).
On 1st October 2003 the project Rail Baltica was included in the list of the priority projects according to the proposal submitted to the European Council by the European Commission.
On April 2003 the Rail Baltica International co-ordination group agreed on attracting the resources of two EU funds for further development of Rail Baltica:
- Interreg IIIB – for the field of regional development;
- The Cohesion fund – for the research of infrastructure development, using also Interreg IIIB project results in the analysis of the revenues and expenses.
On 22nd March 2005 European Commission has launched a tender for whole Cohesion fund Rail Baltica project pre-feasibility study. The terms of reference of pre-feasibility study will describe the key steps and analyses underpinning a feasibility assessment of the Rail Baltica corridor.
On November 2005 the company COWI is chosen to carry out Rail Baltica pre-feasibility study. Planned that pre-feasibility study will be finished till December 2006.
On 2nd June 2005 Interreg IIIB project Rail Baltica application was approved by the Interreg IIIB Steering Committee. There are 22 partners participating in Interreg IIIB project Rail Baltica, including ministries, regional development institutions, railway companies and NGO from Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland. The total Interreg IIIB project Rail Baltica budget is 1.15 MEUR.
The Interreg IIIB project Rail Baltica has two main goals:
- the definition of the most favourable route for the Rail Baltica railway link in terms of spatial planning and regional development,
- the raising of the awareness of the relevant actors (national and regional administrations and decision makers, industry and the public) in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR) on the benefits of attractive railway connections.
As the result of Interreg IIIB project Rail Baltica will be common approach for railway development the BSR and the definition of the most favourable alignment of the Rail Baltica line in terms of spatial planning and regional development.
Interreg IIIB project Rail Baltica is planned to finish at the end of 2007.