It’s hard to imagine that you travelled faster from Berlin to Riga 100 years ago than today. Back then the railway was a popular transportation road and the luxury train “North Express” would take you to Riga in only 16 hours.
Today, the same way will take almost three times as much! With a train change in Minsk, Belarus, you will be on the move for a total of 43 hours! An additional burden for Western Europeans is the crossing of the border to Belarus with a time-consuming VISA check and customs regulation.
The EU quickly realized this disadvantage for EU citizens when the Baltic States became a member of the European Union in 2004. This is the time when the major infrastructure project “Rail Baltica” was born:
Rail Baltica: Road of the Future
This fantastic project will finally connect the western part of Europe with the Baltic States and their airports and ports. It is thus embedded in the Trans-European Transport Corridor (EU TEN-t), which links the major European port cities of Rotterdam, Hamburg and Antwerp, through the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Poland to Helsinki.
The network will further be connected to the railway in Russia and Asia, providing new opportunities for international transport.
Picture Credit: RB Rail AS; CC BY-SA 4.0
The construction phase is planned to start in 2019. The costs of an estimated 5,58 Mrd € will be covered by the European Union (85%) and the three Baltic States (15%). The reasons why the EU is funding this project are manifold but mostly because everyone in the EU from citizen to companies will profit from this connection.
Very important for the success of the project is the freight volume. Here, the analysts expect an output of 13.0 to 19.5 million t in 2030. By 2055, 16.0 to 25.2 million t are expected. About 57% of the traffic will be transit traffic.