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Published: 27 april 2012 10:44

Rail Baltica coordinator: project implementation may impact talks on Eu assistance to Lithuania

„Rail Baltica“
Tomo Lukšio/BFL nuotr. / „Rail Baltica“

The speed of implementing Rail Baltica, the European-gauge railway project, may have an impact on negotiations on a new European Union’s (EU) 2014-2020 financial perspective, Pavel Telicka, the European Commission’s (EC) coordinator for Rail Baltica, has said. He also emphasized that local Lithuanian authorities should understand that the project is of revelance to all Europe, not just Lithuania.

“I think that, hopefully, the municipalities understand that this is a project of European relevance and importance, it’s not a Lithuanian issue and it’s not financed by Lithuanian financial means solely. I think that there needs to be understanding that this project has to go on time and there is no interest even of the regions of a slowdown, because it has, as I say, European importance. It also comes at a time when the next financial perspective is negotiated,” Telicka told BNS after the meeting with Lithuania’s Transport Minister Eligijus Masiulis in Vilnius on Thursday.

He noted that, in his opinion, Lithuania would not want to have setbacks which could be used in negotiations against Lithuania in terms of allocation of financial assistance. “The delay of 6-7 months is not a disaster, we can speed it up”, he said.

Telicka stated at the meeting that Rail Baltica was included in the list of priority projects and that the European Commission would pay much attention to the implementation of this project, Masiulis said.

“We have discussed both Lithuania’s progress in implementing the Rail Baltica project and, let’s say, the moods in Brussels, which is particularly important on the eve of new European financial perspective... Of course, it is very important to ensure that this project is implemented evenly enough not just in Lithuania but in Latvia, Estonia, and Poland as well,” the Transport Minister told BNS.

The minister said that some 7 kilometers of long narrow-gauge tracks had already been laid in Lithuania between Šeštokai and Mockava, and the works on an approximately 10-kilometers-long stretch would be launched between Mockava and the Polish border soon.

Rail Baltica is one of strategic transport links in the Baltic countries. EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas said in January that 85 percent of project implementation costs could be funded under the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility.

Rail Baltica would link Poland to Finland via the three Baltic countries. The total length of the railway in Lithuania is 335 kilometers and the total estimated value is about 1.9 billion litas (EUR 550 m).

Lithuania‘s railways have been built to the Russian gauge of 1.52 metres whereas the European standard is narrower,  1.435 metres.

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