Improving Europe’s Connectivity: Rail Baltica and Správa Železnic Discuss High-Speed Rail Agenda for North-East Europe

An exchange visit between Rail Baltica delivery organizations and Správa železnic, the national railway infrastructure manager in the Czech Republic, took place in Riga, Latvia on 18 March.  The event aimed to foster collaboration and expertise sharing between the parties involved in the development of high-speed rail projects within North-East Europe.

The foundation for this cooperation was laid in January 2023 when a tripartite memorandum of cooperation was signed between the Rail Baltica central coordinator, RB Rail AS, the Czech national railway infrastructure manager Správa železnic, and Poland’s infrastructure megaproject Centralny Port Komunikacyjny Sp. z o.o. (CPK). Through this tripartite agreement, the parties have formalized their commitment to cooperate in promoting and developing high-speed railway projects in the region.

Správa železnic, responsible for railway infrastructure modernization in the Czech Republic, highlighted the need for high-speed rail development due to saturated capacity on main lines and increased demand for both passenger and freight services. The Czech Republic’s strategic aim is to capitalize on the country’s location at the crossroads of Central Europe establishing high-speed connections between Prague and major European capitals such as Berlin, Brussels, Paris and others, as well as cities in the neighboring countries, e.g., Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest.

During the exchange visit, Mr Emilien Dang, Member of the Management Board and Chief Technical Officer at RB Rail AS, delivered a comprehensive overview of the progress of the Rail Baltica global project.

Emilien Dang, Member of the Management Board and Chief Technical Officer at RB Rail AS

“As both Czechia and the Baltics advance our respective high-speed rail initiatives, rooted in historical contexts, our shared objective is to enhance connectivity within Europe, benefiting our citizens and economies alike. As our projects progress, we can support one another in our efforts to deliver an efficient and sustainable transportation infrastructure across the region,” said Mr Dang.

Mr Kaspars Vingris, Chairman of the Board at Eiropas Dzelzceļa līnijas, offered insights into the specific advancements made within Latvia’s section of Rail Baltica. “We share many of the challenges in implementing infrastructure megaprojects and this knowledge sharing is beneficial for the teams. In order for trains to start running on Rail Baltica infrastructure as soon as the project is completed, the preparation for operational readiness is key and we can learn much from our Czech colleagues,” Mr Vingris stressed.

Additionally, Mr Radek Čech, Director of the Department for International Cooperation at Správa železnic, presented the organization’s extensive portfolio of projects, including the V4 VRT and Via Vindobona projects.

“Správa železnic welcomes very much the cooperation with RB Rail AS and we are sincerely pleased with the results that we could see today not only in presentations, but also directly in the field. We see the Rail Baltica project as a strategic project in the light of the current geopolitical situation, reflecting the real principles on which Europe is based – vision, cooperation, interconnection. What we can clearly see today is that the focus of infrastructure projects is shifting more towards Central and Eastern Europe. In particular, the creation of a north-south axis from Tallinn to Vienna, and possibly further to the Adriatic or the Balkans, where the involvement of all the countries on this axis plays an important role, is an indisputable benefit for the TEN-T network.

For us, this cooperation is also strategic because it gives us the opportunity to exchange experience in the preparation and implementation of such complex projects, which can help both parties to optimise and speed up processes. At the same time, it shows us the potential and the results that a green mobility policy brings. It is therefore in our common interest to continue to maintain strong European support for this area. This can only be achieved through our joint effort,” stressed Mr Radek Čech.

The Ambassador of the Czech Republic in Latvia Mr. Martin Vitek and the Deputy Head of Mission, Ms Veronika Sidó also joined the exchange. “We very much welcome the first meeting between Správa železnic and RB Rail AS. It is aimed at strengthening cooperation between the two sides and bringing mutual benefit in the field of railway infrastructure, enhancing mobility, connectivity, business development and economic growth by delivering sustainable and safe transport infrastructure in line with the EU standards. A regular working group will be established in order to share information, knowledge and best practice, and other common actions to promote development of high-speed rail at EU and international level,” highlighted Mr Martin Vitek, the Ambassador of the Czech Republic in Latvia.

Other key topics discussed were large infrastructure railway projects’ financing, as well as subsystem development, which were discussed at an expert level.  Furthermore, the delegation had the opportunity to visit construction sites at Riga Central Station and Riga International Airport, gaining firsthand experience of the ongoing infrastructure development.

More photos are available on Rail Baltica Flickr account.