With the RB Rail AS continuing series of our partner and supplier stories, this time we interviewed Alfredo Ingletti, who is co-founder, Chairman and Technical Director of 3TI Progetti, an Italian engineering company, ranked at the ENR TOP 225 International design firms, offering consulting services for over 20 years in planning, design, project and construction management of transport infrastructures, hospitals, and buildings, as well as energy and water.
What is the role of 3TI Progetti in the Rail Baltica project?
Our engagement started in 2018 with our first acquirement dealing with the Architectural, Landscaping and Visual Guidelines for the Rail Baltica Global Project that were presented at the Global Forum in Vilnius, a year later. After that we promoted the Rail Baltica project in Italy, Milan at the EXPO Ferroviaria.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, we have been awarded additional contracts and currently we are in charge, together with Yuksel Proje, of the Design Review and Design Expertise Services for the Rail Baltica Project in Estonia, in Lithuania and now also in Latvia. 3TI provides expertise for the entire line to ensure that Rail Baltica project complies with Global Project Design Guidelines and European Union Technical Specification for interoperability and national laws of the Baltic countries.
What are you currently working on?
Currently we are performing the Design Review and Design Expertise of the Estonian, Lithuanian, and Latvian section of the Rail Baltica corridor. It means that we are performing the design review and design expertise on the Rail Baltica railway line. And the line is the sum of the sections which will be built in each Baltic country.
In Estonia, we have now completed the Design Review for the Pärnu – Rapla section and Tallinn – Rapla section for almost 60km of railway line, which represents 27% of the total length of the section. This section also includes 7 railway bridges, 10 road viaducts and 6 ecoducts.
In Lithuania we have completed the Design Review of the Design Kaunas – Ramygala section corresponding to almost 45km of railway line, which is the 29% of the total length of the section. This includes 7 railway bridges, 6 road viaducts, 41 culverts and 10 animal Crossings.
In Latvia, the activities have just started, and we are currently reviewing the first Design Documents of the Iecava River Section.
How is the Rail Baltica Global project different from other projects you have been previously involved in?
The uniqueness of the Rail Baltica Project derives from many aspects starting from the history of the Baltic countries. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are so close but so different in terms of internal cultures and regulations, but still share a common path. They have regained their independence from the Soviet Union in the nineties and joined European Union in 2004. Rail Baltica Project will connect not only the 3 countries with each other through a high-speed railway network, but it will also connect them with the European network.
It is a strategic project that demands strong involvement and a commitment in terms of resources and capabilities from the entire European Union with the goal to complete, through the construction of a high-speed railway network, the integration path of the Baltic countries. This is unique in this specific historical period.
How does the experience gained from the Rail Baltica project contribute to the developments of the company’s competencies?
Being involved in one of the biggest EU funded infrastructural project is already an achievement that allows us to share our expertise in the community environment which is extremely stimulating in terms of technical challenges. Thanks to this project the company will acquire further references in the Baltic countries that will be added to the 3TI infrastructural projects achievements reached in the last 30 years in Italy and all over the world. This project will challenge our approach in terms of management, coordination, and technical expertise against 3 different countries with specific local regulation and procedures.
The outcome of this first year of work on the Design Review and Design Expertise Services is extremely positive and this is the results of a choral commitment from both 3TI Team and Rail Baltica Team that well embodies the community spirit on which such challenges are funded, strengthening our position on the European market too.
How many people work with the Rail Baltica project from your side?
Providing Design Review and Design Expertise Services the workload can be extremely variable, and this is one of the main challenges in managing such projects. Considering the average staff involved, we have a team consisting of almost 50 members subdivided in the following different teams: Management, Coordination, Technical experts, and local consultants. This number will grow in the upcoming months – in November and December – as the awarded contract in Latvia will increase the workload and consequently a dedicated team will be built-up.
Could you explain in more detail with whom you are working closely to capture their expertise and to identify their expectations regarding the visual appearance of the Rail Baltica infrastructure?
The Architectural and Landscaping design (ALG) Guidelines are the result of a study conducted together with all the stakeholders involved in the three countries and based on the outcome of the research, interviews, presentations and workshops in Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia. They capture not only the expertise and experience of the stakeholders engaged along all the ALG definition process but also the will of unity from all Baltic countries.
The visual appearance of the Rail Baltica Infrastructure that is proposed in the ALG guidelines is the achievement of a long process that absorbed from each country their identity and transform it in the vision of the Rail Baltica network elements.
We can take as an example the concept of the regional stations proposed in the ALG Guidelines. The starting point of the concept of the station appeared during the interviews with the stakeholders. It is one of the most poetic answers we have received that inspired the image of the station. We asked: “What you have in common with other countries?” and the answer was “the sea”. This image gave birth to the visual identity of the regional station that is a welcoming and harmonious unified space covered by a roof composed by three waves representing the Baltic Sea.
Creating a strong identity for the network is a powerful statement of the benefits of the public transport in the Baltic countries and at the same time – a connection between their history, environment, and traditions.
How these guidelines will be used?
The ALG Design Guidelines will serve as a road map in the development of the design of the Architectural, Landscaping and Visual Identity element which are significant parts of the Rail Baltica project. The main goal is to provide a branding manual with a complete set of design references and rules for future designers and municipalities to allow the design of each architectural, landscaping, and visual identity element which will be part of the Rail Baltica project achieving the objective of providing a common and recognizable “Rail Baltica Identity” along the three countries.
This identity has been built on different levels (overall network level, country level and regional level) and it is applied to the network elements such as rail bridges, embankment & cut, noise barriers, animal passage and signage and the station and landscape elements.
What innovations will this project introduce?
Innovation is a process that brings progress or improvements. In the Baltic countries the Rail Baltica project will be a radical change with ambitious goals to be achieved.
Designing and building a completely new network for three different countries is the opportunity to apply the most advanced technologies and standards to match the following targets:
100% environmentally friendly
Rail Baltica will be fully electrified allowing it to decrease emissions. The newest technologies and materials are going to be utilized in its construction. The line is planned so that it avoids the Natura 2000 protected areas as far as possible and without significant impact on other environmentally sensitive protected areas. Wherever necessary, noise protection barriers will be installed. Special animal passages will be built through the embankment studying and respecting the actual migratory flows.
Safe and accessible
Rail Baltica solutions will include the most stringent safety requirements. The newest generation of European railway traffic management system (ERTMS) will be used to control the train movement. All crossings with roads and pedestrian pathways will be at two levels. It will be fenced at full length. Passenger stations will have all the necessary facilities to make access to the train services an easy and pleasant experience for anybody.
Rail Baltica is built using the most up-to-date technologies and materials. New intermodal freight terminals are planned in each of the Baltic countries to allow fast and efficient transfer of containerized cargo between different transport modes. Railway stations will represent the latest developments in multimodal passenger terminals connecting conveniently different urban, regional, and long-distance services with car and bike parking, shopping, and recreational areas.
What would be your advice to other companies considering participation in this project?
To meet the requirements, Rail Baltica demands this project’s strong capabilities in terms s of technical expertise and resources. The companies that enter the Project must be aware that all their background will have to be made available to Rail Baltica in its entirety due to the achievement this project wants to reach. In addition to that, another challenge is the management and application of the local standards and regulation that are different in all three Baltic countries and imply that additional effort must be made. So, the companies that want to join the “Rail Baltica Family” have to be aware that they will not face an easy start, but they have also to be confident as the RB Rail AS (the Rail Baltica joint venture) team provides strong and constant support to any company that commits to this project in other terms for this project the keyword should be “flexibility”.