The construction of the Rail Baltica railway bridge over the Neris River is about to gain momentum: today, 21 July, with a ceremony near the shores of the Neris River in Jonava district, the construction of the bridge was launched. To protect the Natura 2000 site, a complex engineering structure will not have a single support in the water and will be the longest railway bridge in the Baltic States. The bridge over the Neris River which is very important for the construction of the railway line to Latvia is planned to be built in 2.5 years.
The symbolic construction opening event, organized near Jonava, was attended by high level of representatives, including the Prime Minister of Lithuania Ingrida Šimonytė, Marius Vaščega, Head of the European Commission Representation in Lithuania, Minister of Transport and Communications Marius Skuodis, CEO of LTG Infra Karolis Sankovski, CEO and Chairman of the Board of RB Rail AS Agnis Driksna as well as representatives from other institutions and organisations implementing the Rail Baltica project, partners and guests.
“Today we announced start of construction of the exclusive landmark on the Rail Baltica railway section from Kaunas to the Latvian border. Our priority task – to build the main Rail Baltica line from Kaunas to Panevėžys by the end of 2024 and to the Latvian border by 2026 – is moving to the stage of active construction works. In today’s geopolitical context, the integration of the railway network of Lithuania and all the Baltic States with the Western transport network is a strategic priority of the utmost importance, which must be implemented as soon as possible,” said Minister of Transport and Communications, Marius Skuodis, at the official opening ceremony of the construction of the bridge over the Neris River,” said Marius Skuodis, the Minister of Transport and Communications of Lithuania, at the official event of the start of construction of the bridge over the Neris River.
Karolis Sankovski, CEO of LTG Infra, the company responsible for the implementation of the Rail Baltica project in Lithuania, noted that the railway bridge over the Neris River near Jonava is amongst the largest technical and engineering challenges in Rail Baltica. The length will be up to 1.51 km with an altitude of about 40 meters above the Neris river and its valley. A double-track railway line of European track gauge standard will be built over the bridge, which is almost 14 meters wide.
“To build an entirely new Rail Baltica section between Kaunas and the Lithuanian–Latvian border is quite a challenge, as this is also the first completely new railway section to be built in independent Lithuania. The railway bridge over the Neris river is complex and strategically important infrastructure for the construction of the railway between Kaunas and Riga,” said Mr Sankovski.
During construction, particular attention to environmental protection
The Italian company “Rizzani de Eccher” that won the tender for the construction of the bridge will also have to take care of all the infrastructure of the bridge as well as the nearby infrastructure. The drainage system, electricity, telecommunications, water supply networks will be reconstructed, the nearby district road will be repaired by building an intersection leg, as well as the landscape will be managed.
Considering the closeness of the bridge to the nearby city, sound barrier walls and other noise-mitigating solutions will be installed.
As the bridge will cross the Natura 2000 site of the European ecological network, particular attention is paid to environmental protection. In order to avoid any impact on the biodiversity of Neris, work in the protection zone of the river Neris will not be carried out during fish migration and spawning. When designing the bridge, invasive solutions in the riverbed were abandoned — bridge supports will not be built in water, so a distance of as much as 150 meters will be maintained above the river between the supports, therefore, fish will be able to migrate freely, and water vegetation will be able to grow.
The Italian company “Rizzani de Eccher”, which will build the railway bridge over the Neris River, has implemented complex infrastructure projects in the USA, Canada, the United Kingdom, Turkey and various countries of Central America, Asia and Africa.
The contract value is EUR 64 million excluding VAT. The Rail Baltica project is financed by the participating countries – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – and up to 85% of total eligible costs are covered by the European Union under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). The estimated duration of the Neris bridge works is 2.5 years. Technical maintenance services for the construction of the Rail Baltica railway bridge over Neris near Jonava will be provided by Viamatika.
Project progress in all three Baltic states
Agnis Driksna, the CEO and Chairman of the Board of RB Rail AS, emphasised that the global project implementation is closely followed in all three Baltic States and shows visible progress.
“Rail Baltica is not only a unique infrastructure project itself, considering its purpose, scope and cross-border complexity, but it also has numerous iconic infrastructure objects, one of them being the bridge over Neris river. I would like to emphasize that Rail Baltica is a long-term partnership project, therefore we particularly appreciate cooperation with our suppliers and strategic partners at EU, national and municipality level, who ensure continuous support for the project. Today, the geopolitical context has changed, creating need for more focused and accelerated implementation of the project, and thus establishing a new, strategic transport and defence corridor, connecting the Baltics with the rest of Europe, and we are determined to start the first operations in the Rail Baltica priority sections by 2027.”
Currently, the works of installation of the Rail Baltica railway substructure and infrastructure in Jonava District in Lithuania have also been started, and the special plans of the optimal alternatives approved by the railway sections between Kaunas and Vilnius as well as Kaunas (Jiesia) and the Lithuanian–Polish border are being actively coordinated.
Rail Baltica is the largest railway infrastructure project in the history of the Baltic States, which will provide an electrified double-track European gauge railway line along the entire Rail Baltica route, connecting Warsaw, Kaunas, Riga and Tallinn. The total length of Rail Baltica in the Baltic States is 870 km, with 392 km in Lithuania, 265 km in Latvia and 213 km in Estonia.
- The bridge will be at a distance of about 3.7 kilometres in the direction of the river flow from Jonava or 31 kilometres from Kaunas.
- It will be the longest bridge not only in Lithuania, but also in the Baltic States. The Neris River Bridge will have a total length of 1,51 km, a width of 13.9 m, and will be built at a height of about 40 m above the river and its valley.
- The bridge will not have a single support in the water. The longest distance between the supports of the new bridge, at the point where it will cross the river, will reach 150 metres.
- During construction, non-standard engineering solutions will be required, and this is determined both by the length of the bridge and by its height, at which it will be necessary to carry out work. Therefore, it is already clear that tower cranes and other special equipment will be needed here.
- Construction works will require 74,000 cubic metres of concrete and 11,500 cubic metres of reinforcement