Work begins on Rail Baltica Central Hub
By Leila Steed02 December 2020
Construction of the Rail Baltica Central Hub in Latvia’s capital city Riga has begun as scheduled.
The building site, which is located between the Riga Central Railway Station and the Ministry of Transport building, was formally opened by representatives from European Railway Lines, Egis-Deutche Bahn and the project’s coordinator RB Rail.
Speaking to the project’s workers and local residents at the commencement ceremony, Agnes Driksna, Chairman of the Management Board of RB Rail, said, “With the beginning of works in Rīga Central Railway Station, we mark the beginning of construction works of Rail Baltica in Latvia. As of today, Rail Baltica construction works are taking place in all three Baltic States. As a result of the reconstruction of Riga Central Station and surrounding infrastructure, Latvia will gain new high-speed, environmentally friendly international and local railway services. Furthermore, the travel time between the capitals of the Baltic states will be reduced by half.”
The Central Hub is being constructed by Bererix – a joint venture between Besix and Sia Rere Būve – which won the €430 million contract in 2019. Works will include the building of a new central station building, a major railway bridge on the Daugava river and the construction of the European standard gauge tracks and various rail infrastructures.
Roughly 85% of the cost is being covered by the European Union’s Connecting Europe Facility, with the remainder of the funds being provided by Latvia’s government.
EU Commissioner, Adina Ioana Vălean, said, “This day is a milestone in European integration history. A modern state-of-the-art railway that will bring us closer together. Rail Baltica has always been a priority for the European Commission – it is one of our critical infrastructure projects, completing our core transport network along the Ten-T.
“This massive project will bring in new businesses, attract start-ups, create new jobs and new opportunities, and improve citizens’ living standards. I congratulate you that despite global pandemic you found a way not to hold back on this project’s constructional phase in a safe and secure manner.”
In a congratulatory remote address to the project’s implementers the Latvian Prime Minister, Krišjānis Kariņš, said, “This project is of strategic and geopolitical importance: it will connect our economy to the European Union’s single market, increase our international competitiveness and also the security of the region. It should be acknowledged that the Rail Baltica project is also one of the most complex in terms of its scale and technical solutions Latvia has been involved in after the regaining of its national independence.”
He added, ”I would like to commend the ability of all the parties involved to come to an agreement in the name of a larger target, so that all would benefit from the opportunities provided by Rail Baltica, both for our economy and for the population.”
The Central Hub forms part of the €5 billion Rail Baltica project. Due to be completed in 2026, it will connect the Baltic cities of Helsinki, Tallinn, Riga, Vilnius and Warsaw, and integrate them into the European rail network.