In the meeting, the mayors were introduced to the project’s progress and benefits, but most importantly, the mayor’s expectations were heard, and discussions were held on questions of importance regarding the rail project.
This was the first meeting of this type where representatives of almost all municipalities, which will be crossed by the Rail Baltica railway, were gathered in one place. This year, there are plans to organise meetings in every municipality individually, and also invite representatives of the business community to these meetings, which will focus on the circumstances of and questions of importance for the specific municipality.
According to Minister of Transport and Communications Jaroslav Narkevič, the project can be seen to be progressing across all of Lithuania’s geographic areas. Construction works are proceeding rapidly in Kaunas, a line is being planned from Kaunas to the Lithuanian-Latvian border, and contracts were signed for drafting special plans for stretches from Vilnius to Kaunas, and from the Polish-Lithuanian border to Kaunas.
“Rail Baltica is without a doubt a crucial project for all of Lithuania, but no less important to us are the interests of the Lithuanian regions where it will be implemented. This is why we are initiating meetings with the municipalities where we will discuss the municipalities’ needs and expectations because only an open discussion and transparent project implementation will allow to reflect as many needs as possible for every municipality, and ensure maximum benefit is obtained,” Narkevič said.
Karolis Sankovskis, the head of AB Lietuvos Geležinkelių Infrastruktūra (LTG Infra), which is tasked with implementing the project in Lithuania, presented a broad overview of the project’s benefits to Lithuania. According to Sankovskis, it is especially important to realise and see the benefits and opportunities that the Rail Baltica railway will bring, and begin preparing to make use of them now.
“The upcoming European railway will not only increase passenger and freight mobility, it is also creating new jobs, new investment, growing tourism, and incentives for regional economies. It is a pleasure to see that the Lithuanian people understand this well, and support for the project is at record heights in Lithuania. We are also very thankful for the support we have received from the municipalities where lands were purchased for the Rail Baltica railway line and the understanding of landowners,” Sankovskis explained.
According to Elektrėnai municipality Mayor, Association of Local Authorities in Lithuania vice president Kęstutis Vaitukaitis, such meetings are essential in order to better understand the project and make correct decisions that bring the biggest benefit. “Involving the municipalities in the discussion is a good sign because no one better than the municipalities themselves knows the expectations and needs of the people living in them. And to implement a project at the scale of Rail Baltica, it is crucial to thoroughly plan and coordinate everything, only this way can we be certain that the needs of the municipalities and their residents will be taken into account,” Vaitukaitis said.
Rail Baltica is the largest rail infrastructure project in the history of the Baltic States. With its implementation throughout the Rail Baltica route, an electrified European standard gauge railway line will be laid down, spanning from Warsaw through Kaunas to Riga and Tallinn. The project also includes plans for an extra stretch of railway between Kaunas and Vilnius.
The combined length of the Rail Baltica railway line in the Baltic States is 870 km: 392 km in Lithuania, 265 km in Latvia, 213 km in Estonia.
The construction works for the project are estimated to be valued at 5.8 billion euros, which will be the largest investment aimed at increasing mobility and travel opportunities, developing business, tourism and goods exchanges in the region.
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