Policymakers responsible for the €5.8bn Rail Baltica project presented the latest plans and supplier opportunities during the webinar ‘Rail Baltica as driver of economic development in the post-Covid recovery’ on 1 July 2020. The webinar was produced by the International Railway Summit in association with Rail Baltica, and moderated by the UIC’s Director for Europe, Simon Fletcher.
During the webinar, Mr Fletcher officially welcomed Rail Baltica as a new member of UIC, following the General Assembly’s approval to admit the Baltic network the day before. Rail Baltica is slated to begin operation in 2026. The 870km network is to be built on the UIC standard gauge, will connect Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, currently operating on the Russian gauge, to the majority of the EU rail network.
Rail Baltica was represented by Kaspars Briškens, Head of Strategy & Development, and Kristjan Piirsalu, Chief Procurement Officer. Mr Briškens assured the audience that the project had suffered no disruption, and shown great resilience through the pandemic. Furthermore, Rail Baltica could drive post-COVID economic recovery, he said. Mr Piirsalu detailed components and construction work supply requirements, and areas in which they will soon open tenders.
Herald Ruijters, Director Investment, Innovative & Sustainable Transport, Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport (DG MOVE), European Commission, renewed the EU’s commitment to the project as a missing link in the Single European Railway Area. He proposed Rail Baltica as a template for multimodal integration and the adoption of state-of-the-art technologies.
Both Kaspars Briškens and Herald Ruijters promoted the ‘dig once’ approach to broader infrastructure development. “When you put a shovel in the ground for rail infrastructure, make sure you co-develop other types of infrastructure at the same time,” Mr Briškens said, giving digital, 5G, energy, and defence systems as examples.
In addition, BBT SE, the organisation building the Brenner Base Tunnel, provided an update on works and construction strategies. Sandro Francesconi, Head of Administration, and Giuseppe Venditti, Head of Realisations Department, Italian sector, spoke. Valentina Monaco, Global Head of Rail Infrastructure at TÜV SÜD, explained what she had advised Rail Baltica, primarily regarding component and construction material procurement.
‘Rail Baltica as driver of economic development in the post-Covid recovery’, was part 1 of the two-part webinar series ‘Rail Baltica: opportunities in Europe’s latest megaproject’, presented in association with Rail Baltica.
Part 2, ‘A connected and sustainable Rail Baltica’, took place on 16 July, and tackled innovation, sustainability and digitalisation, providing details of supplier opportunities within the field of subsystems, such as signalling and electrification.
Part 1 and Part 2 are now available free to view on-demand at the International Railway Summit website via: https://www.irits.org/rail-webinars/