RB Rail, the body overseeing the Rail Baltica high-speed line in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, has signed a shadow operator contract with a joint venture (JV) between the international advisory subsidiaries of Spanish and German operators Renfe and German Rail (DB) and Ineco, the engineering consultancy owned by Spain’s Ministry of Transport, Mobility and the Urban Agenda (Mitma).

The contract was signed by RB Rail, Rail Baltic Estonia on behalf of the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, and European Railway Lines on behalf of the Ministry of Transport of Latvia, with the JV lead, DB Engineering and Consulting (DB E&C), Renfe and Ineco.

The shadow operator contract is worth €8m and will run for six years with an option to extend it up and beyond when services begin operating on the 870km Rail Baltica route.

The JV will provide railway engineering advisory services and independent assessments on operations and maintenance, and will also propose recommendations for organisational, operational, and commercial models for rail infrastructure and facilities.

It will also advise on maximising commercial opportunities along the line, and support the specification of high-speed, regional and overnight passenger services as well as freight services.

“This is a significant and strategic step towards ensuring Rail Baltica operates according to the highest safety and interoperability standards,” says RB Rail chief technical officer and board member, Mr Marc-Philippe el Beze.

 “While work on defining the future infrastructure model is ongoing and final decisions are still to be taken, the services to be provided by the shadow operator will produce an optimal railway operation and maintenance model along with a tailored Rail Baltica operational concept, technical strategies, plans and work procedures to meet future infrastructure management, train operation and users’ needs.”