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Latvia may have lost LVL 8.54 mln due to hesitation with Rail Baltica

Alla Petrova, BC, Riga, 07.04.2011.Print version
Latvia has lost EUR 12.2 million (LVL 8.54 million) due to hesitation with the Rail Baltica project, the weekly magazine "Ir" reports. LVL 8.54 million is the amount of money that the European Union was ready to allocate from its funds to improve the railroad that would connect the Baltic States.

The European Commission was already concerned about the future of the Baltic high-speed railroad project, and Latvian Transport Minister Uldis Augulis' (Union of Greens and Farmers) comments that the high-speed railroad project between Riga and Moscow has priority over Rail Baltica as well as rumors that the Riga-Moscow project will be included on the list of projects supported by the EU, only made the situation worse.


Augulis, however, denies that Latvia is to blame for problems with Rail Baltica, writes LETA.


"Ir" reports that when Latvia joined the EU, the improvement of the railroad that would connect the Baltic States, which would be a temporary solution until the construction of a high-speed railroad, was included on the list of 30 high-priority projects, financed by the European "TEN-T" fund.


Latvia submitted application for around EUR 97 million (LVL 67.9 million), EUR 22.3 million (LVL 15.61 million) of which would have been financed by the EU.


During the economic crisis, the project was frozen until 2012, and now the European Commission wants Latvia to state whether the country intends to implement it at all. According to "Ir", the European Commission does not believe that the project will be finished on time, therefore the amount of money allocated to it has been reduced to EUR 43.5 million (LVL 30.45 million), EUR 10.1 million (LVL 7.07 million) of which will be financed by the EU. The deadline has been extended by three years.


Rail Baltica project coordinator, Pavels Talicka, previously pointed out that Estonia has made use of 95% of the project funds, Lithuania – 5% and Latvia – zero. "I have heard several promises and this is the final call to make sure that Latvia is willing to take decisive steps and implement Rail Baltica project, said Talicka.


Talicka also informed Augulis that if Rail Baltica will not receive support, then the high-speed railroad project between Riga and Moscow will not receive it either.


Helen Kearns, spokesperson for EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas informed "Ir" that the implementation of Rail Baltica project in Latvia has been dissatisfying for a long time and may result in loss of funding if the project will not be carried out as scheduled. Latvia will also be in an unfavourable position before the talks on the next year's budget.


Rail Baltica is the most important railroad project in the Baltic States. Even if there are other railroads to the East or West, the European Commission wants to see the project finished. Without a good railroad network from the South and North, other railroads are of less importance," said Kallas.


At the same time, Augulis claims that loss of EUR 12.2 million is "nonsense", because only the amount of money allocated to the project has been reduced, which happened due to Lithuania's hesitation. Augulis also added that he has never said that the high-speed railroad between Riga and Moscow would have more priority than Rail Baltica.

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