RB Rail, the joint venture taking forward the Rail Baltica project, has announced that the new 1435mm-gauge railway connecting Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia has been awarded €928m in funding by the European Union’s (EU) Connecting Europe Facility (CEF).

The award has been made under the second call within the second financial period of the CEF’s Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for the period from 2021 to 2027.

RB Rail says that the latest CEF funding, when combined with national co-financing from the three Baltic States, will provide over €1.1bn to fund further work on the Rail Baltica project.

CEF has also allocated an additional €285m to Rail Baltica in Poland.

A financing agreement is due to be signed with the European Climate, Infrastructure, and Environment Executive Agency (Cinea) in the third quarter of this year and will support key activities including civil works on several sections of the new railway in Estonia, including Loone - Alu.

In Latvia, the CEF funding will be allocated to ongoing work to build Rail Baltica’s central hub in Riga, including relocation of 1520mm-gauge tracks to the southern side of the new station, and the construction of a railway viaduct near Riga International Airport.

The financing agreement will also cover construction of a priority section of Rail Baltica in Lithuania, running from Kaunas to the Latvian border, as well as land acquisition.

Combining the latest funding with the €1.6bn already provided by the CEF and the Baltic States, Rail Baltica has now secured a total of €2.7bn. RB Rail says that the capital expenditure required to build the project was estimated in 2017 at €5.8bn.

“Rail Baltica used to be a priority, now it is a geopolitical necessity, as we need a resilient transport connection for passengers and freight to and from the Baltic States,” say EU commissioner for transport, Ms Adina Vălean.

“Overcoming different gauges is imperative to create an integrated European railway area that brings fast trains to the region and gives citizens new opportunities to travel between the Baltic States and the rest of Europe.”

"This year, our focus is on commencing mainline construction in all Baltic States,” says Mr Marko Kivila, interim chairman of the management board and CEO at RB Rail.

“We are actively aligning our global project delivery programme to effectively track progress and facilitate timely decision-making.

“We have started work on the project's cost:benefit analysis and long-term business plan, which will be completed by autumn 2024. This is crucial for assessing the project's economic viability, securing funding, and optimising project delivery."

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