Group calls later publication of Rail Baltic survey findings "a disappointment"

The postponement of the disclosure of the findings of the feasibility study of Rail Baltic is a disappointment and the published summary fails to answer the question of whether building the railway is justified, an Estonian pressure group, Avalikult Rail Balticust, said on Monday.

"Waiting for the new feasibility study, the government should not limit itself to the individual numbers published so far. It's important to look at the numbers: what are the risks and based on what presumptions and using what models these predictions were made," Priit Humal, spokesman for Avalikult Rail Balticust, said in a press release.

"After the publication of the survey done by AECOM the government made a decision based on it a little less than four months after it was published. This was actually too short a time because an independent audit should have been made of the analysis, which was never done," Humal said.

"According to the summary published today, the analysis fails to answer the question of whether RB in the planned form is the best solution. The feasibility analysis also fails to answer the question of whether the railway should be built in the planned form at all."

The nonprofit pointed out that with an EU cofinancing rate of 85 percent, Estonia would have to pay 268 million euros of the project's total cost of 5.8 billion euros, Latvia 393 million and Lithuania 493 million euros. According to EY, the project's total socio-economic benefit for the Baltic countries would amount to 16.2 billion euros.

"According to the new feasibility study, Rail Baltic needs 4.6 billion euros from the European Union, which is almost double the amount suggested by AECOM," the NPO said, referring to the AECOM estimate of 2.4 billion euros. A precondition for that estimate is a continued 85 percent cofinancing rate, which nobody can guarantee at this point. Baiba Rubesa, CEO of RB Rail AS, did not give a concrete answer to the question of how is the RB project planned to continue if the desired amount of money from the EU doesn't come or comes with a lower cofinancing rate," Avalikult Rail Balticust said.

Freshly published results of a cost-benefit analysis carried out by Ernst & Young (EY), which will not be disclosed in full for now, show that the Rail Baltic project is financially feasible and the project would need additional financial support in the first five years as well as start from 2048 when bigger infrastructure upgrades are needed.

The joint venture of the three Baltic countries, RB Rail AS, has decided not to disclose the study at the moment but is planning to publish its extended summary in the next few weeks.

RailBaltic Ernst&Young AECOM
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