MEPs’ visit puts Rail Baltica project under the spotlight
A delegation of European Parliament transport MEPs have been on a fact-finding mission to Estonia and Lithuania to discuss the Rail Baltica project and boost multimodal transport links with national authorities and rail freight stakeholders.
Karima Delli, Chair of the parliament’s Transport and Tourism Commitee led the nine-strong group in the visit to the Estonian Capital Tallinn, and Vilnius and Kaunas in Lithuania. All are key points on the Rail Baltica route, an ambitious project to link the Baltic States with Poland via a new standard gauge freight and passenger line.
“Rail Baltica will not only bring socio-economic benefits to the region, but also reduce travel times and the lower carbon footprint,” said Delli. “Moreover, it will re-connect the Baltics with the rest of Europe by modern and fast rail connections. This re-establishes the links that existed prior to WWII (World War Two), and as such bears strong symbolic value. Those are some of the reasons why we strongly encourage the full implementation of this project.”
MEPs met with Kadri Simpson and Rokas Masiulis, the Ministers for Economic Affairs and Communications in Estonia and Lithuania respectively, along with parlimentarians and representatives of the transport and infrastructure ministeries of Estonia, Lithuania, Finland and Poland.
As part of key discussions on Rail Baltica, there was a strong focus on EU funding for transport projects and upcoming EU legislation. They also met with railway, port and air representatives, and visited the e-Estonia showroom, a showcase of the country’s e-services.
A recent cost-benefit analysis of the project found that Rail Baltica has the potential to deliver vital socio-economic benefits such as increased exports, a lower carbon footprint and reduced travel times, benefiting both rail operators and freight forwarders.