Prime Minister Jüri Ratas replied to the interpellation concerning Rail Baltic (No. 287), submitted by members of the Riigikogu Artur Talvik, Andres Herkel, Ain Lutsepp, Monika Haukanõmm, Jüri Adams, Andres Ammas, Külliki Kübarsepp and Krista Aru on 13 December 2016.
The interpellators noted that a modern, environment-friendly and fast transport connection between the Baltic countries and with the whole Europe is in the interests of Estonia. The planned Rail Baltic railway is aspiring towards satisfaction of this interest, but at the same time it has been accompanied by non-transparency, bad communication, and poor assessment skill as regards risks and alternatives.
The interpellators asked the Prime Minister a number of questions in order to get answers about the details of the establishment of the route.
Ratas said that the cost of Rail Baltic railway and the accompanying infrastructure and other facilities in the case of the whole 730-km railway section is estimated to amount to about 4.8 billion euro. “Of that, the amount for the structure on the Estonian territory is 1.3 billion euro,” Ratas said. He added that Rail Baltic is part of the pan-European main transport network belonging to the North Sea – Baltic Sea transport corridor. The term for completing it is 2030. “Since it is a European common interest project which, in addition to the potential value for the relevant Member State, is necessary for the improvement of the transport connection or transport flows between Member States, it has been planned in compliance with the conditions provided for in the relevant EU Regulation. This means that the construction of Rail Baltic is co-financed from the Connecting Europe Facility under the Regulation established in 2013. The total volume of the support to activities supported in the territory of Estonia, given under the current decisions, is about 286 million euro. “At the same time, the rate of national self-financing is 19 per cent of the costs, on the average. In Estonia, the activities funded from these funds include, besides investigations and the technical design work of the Estonian railway route, also construction of the railway track bed and multi-level intersections, as well as the establishment of Pärnu and Ülemiste passenger terminals, and the tramway track between Tallinn Airport and Ülemiste terminal,” Ratas noted. He explained that they will be implemented by the end of 2020. The initial planning of the budget of the next European Union funding period due to begin in 2021 is about to be initiated at the level of the European Commission and the Member States.
“The planned fast electrified Rail Baltic railway will connect Finland and the Baltic countries with the existing railway network of European standard gauge of 1435 mm on the north-south axis,” Ratas said. The current railways both in Estonia and in the other abovementioned countries have the gauge of 1520 mm which makes them an isolated railway network in terms of Europe. In terms of Estonia, railways with both gauges will form a single network in the future as, within the framework of the Rail Baltic project, contact points to link the two-gauge railway, and for transfer or loading, will be established both for the carriage of passengers and the carriage of goods. “For that, in Estonia, Ülemiste and Pärnu station have been planned for passengers, and the Muuga Harbour area, and presumably Soodevahe cargo terminal in Rae Municipality in Harjumaa, and Pärnu cargo terminal, have been planned for the carriage of goods. This means essentially the creation of a new rail freight corridor where the cargo terminal planned at Muuga should create, in the best way, possibilities for intercharge for the current 1520-mm railway and the 1435-mm railway to be constructed, Ratas noted. He added that, as regards passengers, Ülemiste and Pärnu station in Estonia, Riga railway station in Latvia and Kaunas railway station in Lithuania will function as the railway connection points of the two-gauge railway. Besides creating an inter-railway connection, the establishment of Rail Baltic is important also in terms of domestic carriage of passengers; for example, the Tallinn – Rapla – Pärnu connection will become noticeably faster.
During the open microphone, Peeter Ernits, Jüri Adams and Andres Herkel took the floor.
The sitting ended at 4.57 p.m.
Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu
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Riigikogu Press Service
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