The European Union (EU) has decided to support three fundamental rail projects, which connect Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland with a railway line known as Rail Baltica, with a massive funding.
To get the plan finally off the ground, the EU will support the rail projects in the Baltic region with approximately €734 million (approximately $800 million) from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) Programme for Transport, as one of the priority projects for the union.
All three supported projects form parts of the Rail Baltica project, which involves the construction and upgrade of a continuous EU gauge railway line between Tallinn (Estonia) and Warsaw (Poland), passing by the Baltic cities of Riga (Latvia) and Kaunas (Lithuania).
The first of the three projects, worth €442 million, involves a large number of studies and works on several sites in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The second project, co-funded with €105 million, takes place in Lithuania, and the third project, worth €186 million, takes place in Poland. The projects are set to be completed by the end of 2020.
The European Commission (EC) approved the funding for the Rail Baltica international railroad, connecting the Baltic states with central and western Europe, in summer 2015. Many were relieved that the project that has been discussed for over a decade and seen many heated discussions and arguments in all three Baltic states, is finally moving ahead.
In Estonia, the preparation for the Rail Baltica construction has already begun. This summer, the biggest archaeology project in Estonian history started in areas where the high-speed track will pass through. Digs took place in Harju, Rapla and Pärnu counties.
The building of the new railway is expected to begin in 2020 and the whole project is estimated to cost €3.68 billion. The route Tallinn-Riga-Kaunas is planned to be finished in 2025 and the connection with Warsaw in 2030, effectively connecting Estonia with the rest of Europe by rail, since Warsaw is also connected to Berlin (Germany) with railway.
Cover: Rail Baltica future terminal in Pärnu (courtesy of Pluss OÜ)