Less than 1,000 properties around Latvia will be affected by construction of Rail Baltica railway line, as confirmed by representative of RB Latvia Neils Balgalis during a press-conference on 23 September.
He also added that a full railway plan has been developed over the past five months.
Rail Baltica representatives from Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia report that the project’s development across all three Baltic States is on approximately the same stage now. There are also no problems with border-crossing checkpoints, meaning Latvia has reached agreements with both Estonia and Lithuania. All three Baltic States are currently working on establishing the route of Rail Baltica. Work in this field is set to be completed at the beginning of 2015. After that experts will start the search for technical solutions.
Estonia’s representative from Rail Baltica Estonia Indreks Oravs explains that Estonia did have certain protests against the project, but none of them were particularly significant. There are certain municipalities that wish the railway line to be relocated elsewhere. For example, changes have been added to Rail Baltica line near Pernava because of protests from local residents there. Like Latvia, Estonia plans to organize local transports on the railway. Director of Baltic branch of AECOM research company Arnis Kakulis, who represents Lithuania, explains that processes in the country do not differ greatly from those on the other two Baltic States. Perhaps they are a bit behind. At the same time, the railway path for Rail Baltic has been built in the south of Lithuania. He confirmed that an agreement has been reached with Latvia. Details are being discussed by the two sides now as well.
Representatives of Baltic States say the railway line can be potentially used to carry cargoes. Oravs notes that there is potential for Finnish cargoes from Russia’s St Petersburg region. This will create multiple additional corridors in the region. It will also put Baltic States closer to European markets. According to Kukulis, a full cargo flow analysis has been carried out as well. A survey of logistics businessmen reveals that Rail Baltica provides them with new opportunities when it comes to speed and prices. It is planned to create a public terminal for cargo transport. It may be built in either Salaspils or Olaine.
In regards to the situation surrounding the Riga Central Station, Kakulis said the first reports have come in. It is planned to replace rails to create less space for current traffic and more space for Rail Baltica rails. It is also planned to build an additional bridge over Daugava River. It is currently unknown how big this bridge will be. Kakulis says Lithuania has requested a branch-off to Vilnius as well. Lithuania wants to combine Kaunas and Vilnius airports into one international airport that will also have connection with Rail Baltica.
Bargalis adds individual talks are held with every land owner affected by Rail Baltica. Further progress will depend on the outcome of negotiations.