A week ago, on 21-22 September, the Connecting Europe Express (CEE) crossed the Baltics, and for the first time since start of Covid-19, the ministers of transport of all three Baltic States, representatives from the European Commission, and the Rail Baltica implementors discussed in person the project delivery plans and reconfirmed strong commitment to Rail Baltica project implementation.
To address questions on the project implementation timeline and related issues that have been raised in the public media in the Baltic countries since the event, we provide a general overview on the main facts about the current Rail Baltica global project status:
Currently, concrete measures have already been taken to prepare for large scale construction works: delivery of the already ongoing activities has been continuously prioritised in particular the designs of the mainline and local facilities that are progressing on more than 640 km of the 870 km line, the first phase of construction works has started in all countries, numerous consolidated procurements for the construction materials have been launched, preparation for large-scale mainline construction procurements and railway system development (energy and control-command signalling) is ongoing.
Given all circumstances (Covid-19, price fluctuations in the market and other external factors), it is not feasible to put in operation the whole 870km Rail Baltica line at once by 2026. Therefore, construction of the mainline will progress in the areas where the construction readiness is the highest, and the project will apply in the new Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) calls under the 2021-2027 EU Multiannual Financial Framework.
The commitment of all project partners in the Baltics and the EU remains unchanged – to complete the first works as close to 2026 while ensuring full implementation of the whole Rail Baltica line – together with the rest of North Sea – Baltic and other transport core network corridors in the EU – not later than 2030.
While the 2017 investment cost estimate update will be needed to reflect the changes (inflation, construction market situation, increased project scope etc.), precise information on the whole project will be available not earlier than 2023 – with main line and local facility designs being finalised and analysed in the Global project cost-benefit analysis update.