Rail Baltica Design Guidelines Approved

Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications of Estonia, Ministry of Transportation of Latvia and Ministry of Transportation and Communications of Lithuania have approved the Design Guidelines for Rail Baltica, the common design standard mandatory for design, construction and operations of the Rail Baltica infrastructure. The Design Guidelines manual was prepared by the French company SYSTRA S.A., a consulting and engineering group which previously in an open competition was awarded to develop unified design guidelines for the Rail Baltica Global Project.


The Design Guidelines manual determines the key requirements and standards for the Rail Baltica railway alignment, track, embankments and earthworks, hydraulic, drainage and culverts, bridges, overpasses, tunnels and similar structures, energy, control-command signalling system,  telecommunications system, supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), infrastructure facilities (stations, passing loops, crossovers), station and passenger platforms,  environmental requirements,  adaptation to climate change,  BIM requirements, architectural and landscaping (visual design) requirements,  reliability, availability and maintainability and safety  (RAMS) requirements.


“The approval of the Design Guidelines for Rail Baltica project was one of the essential milestones for the project implementation and for fulfilling the commitments undertaken under the Grant Agreement signed with INEA. The Design Guidelines Manual is important instrument to use in the design process of the Rail Baltica infrastructure which has just started. We are satisfied that for cost effective, modern and safe design and construction of the Rail Baltica infrastructure our contractor SYSTRA provided the railway’s long-term vision and integrated the best EU practice, “comments Baiba Rubesa, CEO and Chairperson of Management Board, RB Rail.


In the process of defining the main design parameters it was examined how to choose the parameters which give more value from the railway infrastructure but is still according to the EU Technical Specifications for Interoperability (TSI – P2, F1). Therefore, in comparison to what was planned earlier, it was agreed to increase the maximum design speed for passenger trains up to 249 km/h (the maximum operational speed is 234 km/h), to determine axle load – 25 tonnes and the maximum freight train length -1050 meters. Possibilities for exceptions are foreseen in justified cases.


The Design Guidelines manual sets the following key parameters of the Rail Baltica Global Project:

  • the maximum design speed for passenger trains – 249 km/h, for freight trains– 120 km/h.
  • the maximum freight train length will be 1050 meters,
  • maximum axle load – 25 tonnes.
  • there should be no level crossing with roads and with 1520 mm railways for the Rail Baltica infrastructure, except where no other solutions are available.
  • for maintenance and emergency services access to the main line should be every two or three km and in specific areas.
  • The railway will have ballasted track.
  • Its energy system should be 2x25kV
  • ERTMS – Level 2, Baseline 3.
The design guidelines will allow to ensure the Rail Baltica railway interoperability and accelerate the railway design and construction process in three Baltic States.
The full Rail Baltica Design Guidelines Manual will be available to contracted suppliers.