Designing stations, gathering more millions in funding and buying land where the line will run are all starting to happen.
More than 20 tenders will be launched in 2018 for the ongoing Rail Baltica project, which will eventually link Helsinki and the Baltic countries with Berlin and the rest of Europe with high-speed trains.
The main tasks for the design phase in 2018 also include the completion of an overall preliminary technical design in the three Baltic states, according to the Riga-based coordinating body RB Rail.
This means putting together the national studies that have been done, to create a consistent railway corridor. Detailed technical design will get underway this summer for some of the sections, with the whole detailed technical design to be completed in 2020.
More specifically, in 2018 an operational plan and long-term business plan will be revealed, as well as a feasibility study on upgrading the section of railway between Lithuania and Poland.
Also this year, studies will be made on infrastructure management and technical issues, and supplier market and commercialisation studies will also be expanded, RB Rail says.
A third Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) grant deal will be signed soon and the Rail Baltica project will be able to absorb more European funds.
“Once the CEF3 Agreement is completed and signed within the next weeks, we will have ensured the financing of [a total of] €824 million,” said Baiba Rubesa, RB Rail’s chief executive.
She added that the European Commission’s strong commitment to the project is shown by the fact that additional funding of €19 million beyond national allocations is being made available.
The total value of the Rail Baltica project is estimated at €5.8 billion and the plan is to put it into service in 2025.
With construction due to start in 2020, Rail Baltic Estonia says it will spend much of this year in negotiations with land owners while marking out the railway’s exact path.
Technical planning for two railway stations, in Tallinn’s Ülemiste quarter near the airport and in the coastal city of Pärnu, will also get underway.
The Estonian part of the line goes through 650 plots of land currently under the ownership of local governments or private individuals. The parliament is drafting a law that will pay a price that is 20% more than the plots’ market value.