Construction on Rail Baltica Begins in Estonia

The cornerstone of the first construction structure of Rail Baltica in Estonia, the Saustinõmme Viaduct, was laid on 28 November, marking the start of the Rail Baltica high-speed railway line.

At the ceremony Estonia’s Prime Minister, Jüri Ratas, and Henrik Hololei, the Director General for Transport at the European Commission, both made welcome comments.

Riia Sillave, Head of Rail Baltica Estonia, said:

“During the last couple of years, the Rail Baltica project in Estonia has progressed in good speed. The detailed technical design of the route is under way, the architectural competition of Ülemiste Joint Terminal has been successfully completed and negotiations with the winners are ongoing, and the technical designing of the RB Pärnu terminal is about to begin. As an important milestone today, we were also able to announce the start of construction of Rail Balitca in Estonia and to jointly place a cornerstone on the Saustinõmme highway bypass.

“The continued strong support from the European Union for the project, which has been reaffirmed at today's event, is also gratifying.”

Taavi Aas, the Minister for Economic Affairs and Infrastructure, stressed the importance of progressing at a good pace.

Taavi Aas:

“Rail Baltica is the most important co-operation project of the Baltic States, so every event where we see actual progress of the project is significant. Equally important is good domestic and inter-agency co-operation, and I believe that Rail Baltic Estonia, the Estonian Road Administration and the Joint Venture of the Baltic States RB Rail AS will be able to successfully implement the co-operation that was signed today also at the future Rail Baltica sites.”

The Saustinõmme Viaduct crosses the main route of Rail Baltica. During the construction of Rail Baltica a number of intersections between the high-speed railway line and existing infrastructure will be built in co-operation with the Road Administration and major network operators. These intersections include new highway bypasses, relocating high-voltage lines and gas pipelines, etc.

Rail Baltica construction begins in Estonia
Rail Baltica construction begins in Estonia

The construction contract signed with YIT is for a 4.1km four-lane highway with a connection between the junctions of Luige and Saku. In addition to this bypass, there are also plans to build new twin bypasses of the Saku junction as well as an animal tunnel. It is estimated that all these works should be completed by March 2021.

Kari Kauniskangas, President and CEO of YIT, said:

“We are proud to be the contractor for Rail Baltica's first construction project. We are pleased with the positive spirit of cooperation that characterises the project. We encourage Rail Baltica, as one of the largest clients engaged in infrastructure projects in Estonia, to take the lead in introducing more stringent occupational safety practices to the Estonian market.”

In total, these construction works should cost in the region of 19 million euros including VAT. The EU’s Cohesion Fund contributed 10.31 million euros to the Road Administration works.

Once operational, a passenger train on the Rail Baltica route will travel between Tallinn and Pärnu in 40 minutes and between Tallinn and Riga in 2 hours.

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