RB Rail, the joint venture behind the Rail Baltica project, has been awarded €928m from the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility.

Rail Baltica will connect Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Poland while improving and updating the link to Western Europe. It will unify European transport by connecting the Baltic region’s 1,520mm broad gauge track to the 1,435mm standard gauge track used by European countries.

This new funding, combined with national co-financing of Rail Baltica from the Baltic States, will enable further high-speed infrastructure development to connect the Baltic region with the rest of Europe, according to RB Rail.

The European Commission selected 107 projects out of a total of 353 submitted to receive over €6bn in EU grants from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), the EU’s instrument for strategic investment in transport infrastructure.

The CEF Transport program implements the European Union’s transport infrastructure policy by supporting investments in the construction or upgrade of transport infrastructure throughout Europe.

“The Rail Baltica project used to be a priority, now it is a geopolitical necessity – we need a resilient transport connection for passengers and freight to and from the Baltic States. Overcoming different gauges is imperative to an integrated European railway area that brings fast trains to the region and gives citizens new opportunities to travel between the Baltic States and the rest of Europe,” said EU Commissioner for Transport, Adina Vălean.

“Under this call, the Baltic section of Rail Baltica will receive €928m, on top of the €1.2bn already received. An additional €285m will be allocated to the Rail Baltica line in Poland.”

This additional €928m financing for the Rail Baltica project will be added to the existing funding from CEF and national funding, meaning that the project has secured approximately €2.7bn from the CEF and national funding.

“This year, our focus is on commencing mainline construction in all Baltic States, which includes the construction of mainline objects and related infrastructure facilities, and access roads, as well as implementing key services to enhance interoperability and the cross-border dimension of the project,” said Marko Kivila, interim chairman of the Management Board and CEO of RB Rail.

Major cross-border rail connections along the TEN-T core network have also been prioritised for funding by the CEF.

These include the Brenner Base tunnel, which links Italy and Austria, as well as the cross-border sections between Germany and Switzerland and between Germany and the Netherlands.