Latvia’s Ministry of Transport will allocate around 175 million euros to Rail Baltica in 2024. Of this amount, 115 million euros are secured through EU funding. The focus will primarily be on advancing the design of the Rail Baltica mainline and continuing ongoing construction efforts, including initiating mainline construction beyond Latvia’s capital Riga.
Latvian Transport Minister Kaspars Briškens highlighted the project’s current transition into the construction phase across all three Baltic states. The overarching goal is to connect the Baltic states with Poland by 2030 in standard European gauge, integrating Riga into the railway line construction’s initial phase. In Latvia, the allocated funding will kickstart the first mainline construction works in the priority southern direction. Concurrently, emphasis will be on ongoing mainline design – a critical prerequisite for substantial construction progress.
Additional funding for design work completion is slated by the end of the following year. Latvia’s 2024 budget for the development of transport in general amounts to 788 million euros, meaning that about 22 per cent of the country’s transport budget will go to the project next year.
Phase 3 of construction
In 2024, construction momentum will persist at the Riga Central Railway Hub and associated infrastructure. A total budget allocation of 65 million euros is earmarked for the third phase of construction works, stated the Latvian Transport Ministry on 22 December 2023. This financial support will facilitate the continuation of work on the southern side of the Riga Central Hub and the initiation of the railway system’s construction, encompassing trackways, catenaries, railway signalling, and engineering network installations.
Within the Riga Central Station precinct, plans include commencing engineering network construction on the southern side, completing finishing touches, advancing roof construction, and installing escalators and elevators. The station area will witness improvements as well. Anticipated for next year are the finalisation of the station’s supporting structure and the commencement of construction on the station’s transport and platform structures.
Moreover, 2024 will witness the ongoing construction of the Rail Baltica station and related infrastructure at Riga Airport. The second phase of construction, with a budget allocation of 30.7 million euros, will see the completion of the parking lot and the continuation of constructing Latvia’s longest railway viaduct.
A new Rail Baltica railway bridge across the Daugava River’s right bank is also on the agenda. According to earlier reports of the investigative Latvian television show De Facto, the Rail Baltica international railway project will cost significantly more than originally planned and is facing delays in Latvia. the railway bridge across the Daugave river in Riga was reportedly “likely to be abandoned” in the first phase of the project, which should be finished by 2030. The Transport Ministry did not write any statements about whether the bridge would be finished before 2030 or not with the budget allocation announcement.
For mainline construction, the priority goes to the southern direction to Lithuania, which is ‘strategically crucial and technically advanced’. A budget of 26 million euros is allocated in 2024, directed towards the initial mainline construction spanning 13 kilometres.
Additionally, approximately 800 thousand euros are allocated in the budget for the construction of a logistics base on the territory of the Iecava Infrastructure Maintenance Point, and connecting it to the existing railway network for equipment and material transportation. The signing of a contract for Rail Baltica mainline construction following a public procurement process is imminent, with initial construction slated to begin in early 2024. Furthermore, the 2024 budget includes a provision of 20.7 million euros for the expropriation of real estate essential for construction purposes.
In the realm of Rail Baltica mainline design, a total of 19.6 million euros is allocated for design works in four Latvian sections. These encompass Upeslejas – Salaspils – Misa, Vangaži – Estonian border, Misa – Lithuanian border sections, and the Riga Central Railway Hub section. The completion of design works, excluding the Riga section, is targeted by the end of 2024.
Design work will continue on specific objects in 2024, including 16 regional mobility points, the Salaspils Intermodal Logistics Center, the Skulte infrastructure maintenance point, and the Rail Baltica passenger rolling stock maintenance point in Jaunmārupe. Investments totalling 8.1 million euros are designated for this purpose in the 2024 budget.
Additionally, the budget allocates funds for the technical and economic justification, optimal location selection, and the sketch project of the Rail Baltica Movement Control Center in Latvia. This will oversee train movements in Latvia, enabling the organisation and monitoring of train movements across the entire Rail Baltica railway line.
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