The evaluation of RAIL BALTICA alternative strategies of development
Head of the Project from TSI:
Igor Kabashkin, Dr. hab.sc.ing., Prof.,
Summary description of the project
The Trans-European railway Rail Baltica, linking Helsinki – Tallinn – Riga – Kaunas – Warsaw and continuing on to Berlin, is to be developed within the territories of the co-operating EU Member States.
The Interreg IIIB project “Rail Baltica” had two main goals: (a) the definition of the most favourable route for the Rail Baltica railway link in terms of spatial planning and regional development, and (b) the raising of the awareness of the relevant actors (national and regional administrations and decision makers, industry and the public) in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR) on the benefits of attractive railway connections.
Project was implemented in cooperation with national and regional authorities and associations, public corporations from Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. The implementation period of the project was from June 2005 till 28th January, 2008.
Activities of the project mainly focused on the definition of a common approach and a development strategy to enhance the benefits of the railway link. The project was implemented in close cooperation with the parallel technical pre-feasibility study initiated by the EC (TPFS). The pre-feasibility study was completed in January, 2007. In accordance with the planned activities the result of the technical feasibility study was analyzed. The alternative Rail Baltica routes proposed by the study were evaluated. Interim results of both projects were exchanged regularly and even the evaluation of the interim report of the technical feasibility study was carried out. The evaluation of draft report of Rail Baltica pre-feasibility study was carried out, taking into the account regional development and spatial planning aspects. The definition of the most favourable route was planned to elaborate in line with the technical feasibility study. The evaluation of the final report of the pre-feasibility study was carried out before the definition of the most favourable route.
The study on the definition of the most favourable route was based on the results of the technical feasibility study as well as taking into the account development and spatial planning priorities and requirements. During the project implementation process all the partners came to conclusions that there are great differences in regard to the spatial planning activities and regional development strategies in the participating countries, thus it is impossible to develop one single development and assessment strategy. Therefore development strategies of each country were discussed during the partner meetings and workshops in order to find common issues and differences.
After the technical feasibility study was completed, there was action plan for the future activities within Rail Baltica project elaborated including recommendations on the in-depth studies to be carried out in the future. Taking into consideration the technical feasibility study and the political decision regarding the development of the railway line in Latvia and Estonia, a list of studies was defined together with recommendations for future studies. Some case-studies were selected and elaborated from the list proposed. Others are included in the recommendation list for future projects.
Within the project the methodology for the assessment of the potential Rail Baltica route was elaborated, which also could be used in other related infrastructure projects. The methodology and the results of the case studies can be transported to other EU development projects and regions.
There was also a discussion initiated on the future development of the project and organisation of the partnership.
A number of political discussions were initiated, also taking into the account the very political character of the project.
The project serves as one of the tools for the improvement of the EU territorial cohesion in the BSR and its connection to other EU Member States.
The project supports the wider EU goals of parity of access to services and infrastructure of EU Member States and development of sustainable modes of transportation, improved balance and interoperability between different means of transportation and the establishment of links between EU territories.