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Rail Baltica – current development and business perspectives

On 24 March 2011 Meierovics Society for Progressive Change and Stockholm School of Economics in Riga organized conference “Rail Baltica – current development and business perspectives”. The conference was supported by Konrad Adenauer Foundation, European Commission Representation in Latvia and Canadian Embassy in Latvia. Information support was provided by Baltic News Services (BNS) and Latvian Railways Museum. Event management was provided by iDEA House Ltd.

 Rail Baltica transport corridor from Helsinki to Berlin is one of the 30 priority projects defined in the EU TEN-T policy. It is also integral part of the EU Baltic Sea Region Strategy Action Plan. Within the TEN-T project framework significant infrastructure improvements had been made by Estonia on the Tallinn-Tartu-Valga route (1520 mm gauge) and construction works initiated on the Lithuanian section Šeštokai–Mockava. Latvia has postponed the infrastructure upgrade of its part of the corridor until the end of 2011.

The Rail Baltica project has wide support by Latvian population. TNS Latvia survey shows 75% of inhabitants support the development of Tallinn-Warsaw rail link. The conference demonstrated active interest and involvement of Finland, Estonia and Poland into the project. Examples of similar corridors (North Bothnia corridor, Scandria corridor and Via Regia) showed that joint strategy development and close stakeholder involvement creates necessary critical mass for the positive development of the corridor idea.

Business representatives of the Rail Baltica development zone demonstrated new potentials that Rail Baltica would bring to the Baltic countries.

The second phase of Rail Baltica line would include new high speed rail infrastructure connecting Estonia-Latvia-Lithuania-Poland (European gauge). Currently, the transport ministries of three Baltic countries have launched a feasibility study on the optimal path, gauge and business model. AECOM Ltd presented first conclusions of the study. The study has to be finalized by May 2011. After the study governments of the three Baltic countries should define exact alignment of the route. This will be strategic decision either to continue snake-type rail transport traditions established in the 19th century or develop Rail Baltica as a modern direct line between the metropoles of the Baltic Sea Region.

 Agenda of the conference and presentations of the speakers are available at the web site:

http://lietussargs.lv/prezentacijas-no-konferences-rail-baltica-attistiba-un-biznesa-iespejas/

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