Design contracts awarded for Latvian section of Rail Baltica

Two contracts have been awarded for the Latvian section of Rail Baltica.

The combined contracts, worth over €20 million ($34.82m), cover the design of track in Latvia between the Estonian border and the Lithuanian border. Funding is split between the EU, which is contributing 85 per cent of the budget, and the Latvian government, which is contributing the remainder.

The first section, from Vangaži, a town in central Latvia, to the Estonian border has been awarded to a consortium of Spanish engineering firms INECO and Ardanuy.

The second section, from Misa, south of Riga, to the Lithuanian border, was awarded to Spanish consultancy IDOM Consulting, Engineering, Architecture.

The contracts cover the design of bridges, road viaducts, railway viaducts, culverts, and animal crossings.

“With the signing of the two contracts, design activities are ongoing on the entire line of Rail Baltica in Latvia as well as in the two passenger terminals in Riga Central Station and airport,” said Agnis Driksna, chairperson of the Management Board of RB Rail AS.

Tālis Linkaits, Minister of Transport of the Republic of Latvia, stressed that large rail infrastructure projects such as these can restart countries’ economies following coronavirus (COVID-19) containment measures.

“I encourage all companies to actively follow the development of Rail Baltica and participate in future procurements, as the project is progressing regardless of the Covid-19 situation in Europe. The project implementers are working online and the work is proceeding according to plan,” said Linkaits.

Rail Baltica is a multinational project linking Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithiuania and Poland with a standard gauge rail line. The largely greenfield project will allow for passenger and freight transport between the Baltic countries and connections to the rest of Europe. The project is part of the EU’s Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-T) and a priority project for the bloc.

European states asked to reduce border checks for freight

The European Commission (EC) has requested that all European member states implement ‘green lanes’ on border crossings for freight transport.

The measures follow the disruption of European supply chain networks following border closures implemented to contain the coronavirus (COVID-19). The EC hopes that the green lanes will allow for freight to continue moving through the EU.

Guidelines for the implementation of the green lanes stipulate that no checks and health screenings should take more than 15 minutes, and procedures should be minimised to what is strictly necessary. This involves checks and screening being carried out while drivers remain in their vehicles.

“Our guidance document is intended to protect the EU’s supply chains in these difficult circumstances, and to make sure both goods and transport workers are able to travel to wherever they are needed – without delay. A collective and coordinated approach to cross-border transport is more important today than ever before,” said commissioner for transport, Adina Vălean.

The ‘green lanes’ are encouraged to be implemented across all the border crossing points on the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T), the continental network of rail, road, and waterways connecting European countries.

While the measures are designed to speed up the movement of goods, the EC also hopes that reducing unnecessary stops help improve the health of transport workers.

“The green lanes are also specifically designed to protect transport workers at the frontline of this crisis. This set of recommendations will ease their already stressful mission and it will bring more safety and predictability to their work,” said Vălean.

The EC has also encouraged that enhanced hygiene measures should be undertaken at railway stations and transport hubs.