The Baltic countries signed an agreement on the construction of the railway Rail Baltiс. Most of the costs will take on the EU. The project, which was conceived since the beginning of zero, will connect the Baltic States with Europe more narrow “European” track. In the construction of the road interested NATO, which will accelerate the transfer of armored vehicles to the Baltic States.
Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia signed an agreement on the construction of the railway Rail Baltiс. As before reported in the Estonian Ministry of economic Affairs and communications, the project will cost more than 3.5 billion euros. With about 85% of this amount allocated from the EU institutions. In February, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania submitted the petition to the European Commission on the financing of the first phase of construction of railway track.
“The leadership of NATO needs rapid and timely transfer of military and other cargoes in the Baltic States”
On a new track
The railway project with a narrow European – gauge track through Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have long been nurtured. In 2001, the Baltic countries signed the agreement on the establishment of the railway with European gauge width, which would connect all three countries, in Central Europe. The ideological justification of the project was the fact that after the accession of the Baltic States into the EU railway track remains “Imperial” (width – 1520 mm in Russia and CIS countries), in contrast to gauge the rest of the EU (1435 mm).
Rail Baltic must bind the countries of Western Europe with the Baltic countries via Warsaw, Vilnius, Kaunas, Riga, Tallinn and then by ferry to Finland. The total length of the road will be more than seven hundred kilometers. At this stage, preparation works: environmental impact assessment, calculations, advice. If the terms are met, construction will begin in 2019 and ending in 2026-m. According to the original plan, the construction of the road was supposed to finish this year.
Potential Rail Baltic is estimated in the annual transportation of 5 million passengers and 16 million tons of cargo. However, there are some problems. For example, the harmonization of speed limits on the entire length of the highway. The European Commission requires the maximum speed to 240 km/h, but while in the Baltic States are ready to talk about the maximum speed two times less. In addition, the pace of implementation of the initial stage differ seriously: if Lithuania has already built the first part of the route (planned to finish construction by the end of this year), not yet recognized by the European Commission as part of Rail Baltic, Latvia has practically not started the detailed reference of the project to the area.
Estonia does not hide the fact that the implementation of the project most interested NATO. Unified railway communication on “the European track” route Warsaw – Tallinn accelerate the delivery of military technology and equipment the allies in the Baltic States. Today NATO military equipment reaches Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania by sea via Riga, where is loaded onto railway trains.
However, the project was criticised by rail unions in Estonia. There was noted that the road exists, “just another track”. “Now we just can go to Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, if you organize these passenger transportation”, – said the head of trade Union of railwaymen of Estonia Oleg Chubarov, pointed out that the performance of transport by rail in Estonia reduced since 2007 and in 2015 reached a historic low.
“A pronounced anti-Russian policy of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia”
Historically and geographically Russia and the Baltic States had a close train connection. In 1990-e years the Baltic States had a monopoly of the Russian transit, but today she actually lost.
“The same railway gauge made sense a few years ago, but eventually this fact will be quite slight due to these geopolitical changes. Freight transport by rail between Russia and Baltic States has declined precipitously over the past 10 years, and the reason for this was the pronounced anti-Russian policy of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia”, – said the first Vice-President of the Russian Union of engineers Ivan Andrievsky.
What we can say if two months ago Russia halved rail transit in the direction of Estonia from 12 to 6 trains a day, while 10 years ago this figure was 32, he adds.
I must say that all these years Russia did not sit idly by. She rebuilt the logistics of their supplies to Europe and now were ready for the emergence of Rail Baltic. The only turnover of Ust-Luga port by the end of 2015 increased by 16%. In 2016 it continues to grow. “We develop our own independent supply, and the Baltic States, if she is like if she lives quietly, let them build their own independent network,” – said Andrievsky.
In this case, “xenophobic”, that is anti-Russian, policy makes worse only by the Baltic economies. So, the Latvian economists and entrepreneurs are sounding the alarm: transit and key industrial sectors of the country fall by tens of percent due to the rupture of relations with Russia.
However, Russia has relied on its own Railways and ports than the Baltic States caused a serious blow (to the newspaper VIEW in detail wrote about it).
“Mobile to deliver the weapons to the Baltic States”
The President of the Center for strategic communications, political scientist Dmitry Abzalov in a conversation with the newspaper OPINION called the decision of the Baltic States on the construction of a new railway network in the European migration policy on the economy.
Not the last role is played here by military-political considerations, I’m sure Abzalov. “Earlier, the transportation of military equipment or weapons from Western countries to the Baltic States were de facto dependent on the old Soviet standards, that is, from Russia. Had because of the gauge change cars, trains, etc. the New rail network is built in order to create a single transport hub with Europe. In this case, to carry weapons in the Baltic States can be more mobile,” – said the expert.
The source added that creates a political-military unit near the Baltic States. “Strengthening NATO’s presence in Eastern Europe and the Baltic States also played a role. In short, the leadership of NATO needs rapid and timely transfer of military and other goods. No other economic expediency in the construction of brand new rail network, I do not see”, – said the analyst.
“To build a new railway network, will have to change all the old. The fact that the standards of the current roads in the Baltic States are not comparable with the European. It is very expensive and unprofitable for Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, especially when it comes to freight trains. All economic and railway infrastructure of the Baltic States was focused not just on the export of goods to the West. Now is the opposite – to build infrastructure, focused on the importation of arms and other goods”, – concluded the analyst.Related posts: