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Saturday 23.06.2018 | Name days: Līga
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Augulis’ approach to Rail Baltica is criticized

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUThe approach of Transport Minister Uldis Augulis to the Rail Baltica project has not changed since 2010, believes MEP Roberts Zile.

In his interview to Neatkarīgā Rīta Avīze, Augulis said that had there been no massive financial backing from Europe, it would have been necessary to consider the cost-effectiveness of the project’s realization.

As reported by Zile’s advisor Karlis Bumeisters, the MEP noted in regards to the minister’s words that during the last stages of development of the new government’s declaration, Rail Baltica was not found anywhere near the main priorities for the development of the East-West transit route.

«It was necessary to request the government to add Rail Baltica to the declaration. In addition, if Rail Baltica does not progress towards its realization during Kucinskis government, it will be very hard to find any good arguments to request funding from the European Union for the project’s completion,» – warns Zile, who works in the European Parliament’s Transport and Tourism Committee.

The politician also explains that Augulis’ idea about securing high-speed train connectivity with Moscow and the lack of Rail Baltica as a functional project harmonized perfectly with the presentation of the now former head of Russian Railway in regards to cooperation in the development of EU transport networks.

«Mr. Augulis’ goals as the Transport Minister of 2010-2011 also included the construction of a four-lane road towards the Russian capital. It would have been interesting to watch over construction efforts gradually dying down. Because, as we can clearly see now, Russia has no plans to invest in the development of transit infrastructure in Latvia’s direction,» – said Zile.

In his opinion, just because Vladimir Yakunin has been dismissed as the head of Russian Railway does not mean Russia’s opinion on this matter has changed. «There are still no plans coming from Russia’s Pskov Oblast to invest in the railway infrastructure in the direction towards Latvia,» – explains Zile.

When asked by Neatkarīgā Rīta Avīze as to how valuable Rail Baltica truly is, Augulis said that any infrastructure object that benefits the national economy following its realization is worth realizing. Commenting on the statement that suggests Rail Baltica will not bring any economic benefits, because no cargoes are transported from Helsinki to Europe through Riga, Augulis admitted that not many cargoes are sent through Riga. He did mention, however, that the situation may change after Rail Baltica becomes connected with the existing railway line. «This project is also important for Latvia’s security,» – added the minister.

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