2 responses to “Global Railway Projects”

  1. Tony Olsson says:

    It is a shame Global Railway Review chose to show only the first of the maps on Rail Baltica’s official website

    The third map shows the more ambitious scope of the project, a line from Helsinki in Finland to Tallinn in Estonia via a train ferry or a proposed tunnel, then through Parnu and on to Riga in Latvia. From there the line goes south through Panevėžys, Lithuania’s fifth largest city, the operating base for ASG Siaurukas, Lithuania’s only narrow gauge railway, and on to Kaunas, which was Lithuania’s capital during WW2 when Vilnius was part of Poland. The branch to Vilnius is an addition to the original route of Rail Baltica. From Kaunas, the line continues south to the Lithuania/Poland border.

    To date, only the Lithuanian section from Šeštokai (close to the border with Poland) to Kaunas has been built, and was opened in 2016, it being an upgraded extension of the standard gauge line through Poland which ended at Šeštokai. Passengers travelling from Warszawa into Lithuania had to get out of their train and walk across the platform to a Russian gauge train on the other side. The new line is dual Russian and standard gauge, partly interlaced in places.

    From the border with Lithuania, the existing line to Warszawa is planned to be upgraded to a high speed railway, which will be extended to Berlin where it will join the German Railway system.

    Rail Baltica is a long term project which was only recently signed up to by Estonia and Latvia. Whilst they were procrastinating, Lithuania went on and built their section from Šeštokai to Kaunas, and gained approval for the branch to Vilnius.

    In theory it’s a good idea, but there are some limitations. The railways of the Baltic States are of 1520mm (Russian) gauge whilst those of Finland are 1524mm (original Russian) gauge, so any freight trains to those countries can’t go anywhere, so the freight will have to be transferred to trains of a different gauge, or to lorries.

    Whilst the Baltic States were part of the Soviet Union, their railways were operated as a single railway, the Pribaltiiskaya, based on Riga in Latvia. Indeed, Riga had a massive factory which built diesel and electric passenger trains for the entire Soviet Union. It was one unfortunate casualty of the collapse of the USSR, from which it never recovered.

    Throughout the 26 years of independence since 1991, no attempt to reopen passenger services between the capitals has been made. There have been talks but no action. The line across the border between Mažeikiai in Lithuania and Renġe in Latvia was lifted illegally, which resulted in the EU taking legal action to have the link restored.

    With the railway authorities in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania having shown no desire to cooperate in running passenger trains between their countries capitals when they had the existing Russian gauge lines to do so, I do wonder who will operate passenger trains on the new line. I have a feeling the EU might have to set up a Rail Baltica operating company. Having several times travelled between Riga and Panevėžys by car or long-distance coach, like many tourists and locals, I look forward to this problem being resolved. To me it is ludicrous that having travelled all the way by trains from Britain to Lithuania (Kaunas) in 2010, there was no way to continue into Latvia and Estonia by train.

  2. I miss the KL – Singapore HSR

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.