Rail Baltica: a case study for innovation, digitalisation and greenfield infrastructure development
This content piece is brought to you in collaboration with LIAA (Investment and Development Agency of Latvia).
Rail Baltica, dubbed the Project of the Century for Latvia and Baltic States, is a perfect case study of driving collaboration, economic development and digitalisation for a better future.
With Latvia’s growing status as a destination for innovative meetings and international business collaborations, the construction of Rail Baltica is a notable bonus for both accessing and travelling around Latvia and its Baltic neighbour countries.
Beyond the clear gain of improved connectivity, it offers a myriad of essential benefits. Rail Baltica is a greenfield rail transport infrastructure project and it’s goal is to integrate the Baltic States within the European rail network — here are some key figures:
The largest Baltic-region infrastructure project in the last 100 years
Fully operational by 2026 (before the Winter Olympics) after a 10-year construction period
Carries both passenger and freight traffic
Length: 870 km
Environmentally friendly as it is powered by electricity - also quiet and smooth
Max. Speed: 249 km/h (passengers), 120 km/h (freight)
More than €5 bn investment in the region
Implemented by Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania
Part of the EU’s North Sea Baltic TEN-T corridor
Financed by EU (CEF), Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania
Provides intermodality/multimodality (connecting different railway gauges)
(All facts taken from Rail Baltica website)
This project is the last piece to complete the European Railway System, connecting European cities including Warsaw, Berlin and Helsinki within its framework. One of the notable stations constructed is at Riga International Airport, creating the first high-speed rail to air connection centre for passengers in the Baltics.
In terms of cargo, the first cargo terminal on the route, the Kaunas Intermodal Terminal (KIT) is directly linked to European rail infrastructure. From here, KIT will be the Easternmost point of the European rail network and can soon be reached by freight trains via European standard gauge rail.
Kaunas is the second largest city in the South of Lithuania and the completion of works on this stretch will allow continuing successfully developing the project toward Latvia and Estonia.
Both these milestones, and further construction, will create opportunities for business. Rail Baltica’s freight transport and multi-modal logistics opportunities will facilitate the movement of goods throughout Europe, and service industries will be able to quickly and easily move across the entire region to take advantage of new growth opportunities.
© Images courtsey of Rail Baltica
Included in the 10 Benefits from the Rail Baltica Project Implementation article, an unexpected by-product is provision of a New Value Platform for digital innovation:
“Although widely perceived as somewhat conservative, the European railway industry is very keen to accommodate disruptive technologies through digitalisation and development of intelligent transport systems (ITS). Digitalisation, alongside de-carbonization, is consistently among the European Union’s key strategic priorities in the development of European cross-border transport connectivity. Innovative technologies such as smart data analytics, Internet of Things / Internet of Trains, next generation communication networks (both track-side and onboard), passenger data applications, sensor deployment and smart energy, among many others, will increasingly permeate all aspects of railway design, construction, maintenance, operation and supply chain development processes. Rail Baltica will, therefore, provide a new impetus to the rapidly developing start-up enterprise ecosystem in the Baltic States, creating new opportunities and promoting digital innovation across all stages of the project.”
Additionally, the project will generate 36,000 new job opportunities during construction. With 85% of the funding for the project coming from EU funds, the region is poised to see huge economic benefits for a relatively small investment.
All open tenders are published and accessible on the main website - guidance is provided to closed tenders there as well — with many opportunities for local companies and international alliances.
It’s worthwhile to consider the global cost – benefit analysis, where the total estimated costs of the project (€5.8 billion in all three countries) are weighed against the measurable project socio-economic benefits, which are estimated at 16.2 billion euro – far outweighing national co-investments. It has also been assessed that the project will create a GDP multiplier effect worth an additional 2 billion euro. Furthermore, there will be substantial unmeasurable benefits, mostly of a catalytic nature and also from a strengthened Baltic business community with greater regional access to entertainment, culture and other services.
Finally, Kaspars Briškens, Head of Strategy and Development at the Rail Baltica joint venture, RB Rail AS, has shared some recent observations on the global railway review, where he explores some of the long-term benefits that the Rail Baltica project should achieve with the help of innovation, digitalisation and sustainable greenfield infrastructure development.
LIAA - Investment and Development Agency of Latvia
With the brand “Magnetic Latvia”, the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA) works to increase export and competitiveness of Latvian companies, facilitate foreign investment and implement tourism development and innovation policies.
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