Rail Baltica, the high-speed rail project to connect Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Poland, has hit significant roadblocks on funding and project delays according to the Latvian public broadcaster.

The De Facto show on the public LSM channel in Latvia found the costs of the EU-backed project are likely to rise to €8bn ($8.7bn), rather than the €5.8bn ($6.2bn) originally proposed and agreed to.

The programme alleged the design, land expropriation and construction were all delayed.

The delays are significant because the EU funding is time-limited, so if the modern rail connections between the Baltic States are not in place by 2030, Rail Baltica could lose access to nearly €1bn.

In response to the delays and hiked costs, the Latvian Government said it was assessing changes to its plans. Central to discussions is a proposed rail bridge in Latvia’s capital, Riga.

“We will also look at the pace of construction. We see which phase we can build faster, which ones have less cost or less complexity. Summing up all these factors, we accordingly come to the conclusion which works we can manage to complete by 2030, and for what amount,” said the technical director of the RB Rail joint venture in Latvia Ēriks Diļevs.

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By GlobalData

“In the long term, I believe that this capacity is necessary so that we can ensure full-fledged movement through Riga,” said Latvian transport minister Kaspars Briškens.

Complicating the Riga question is the progress already made on the city’s new central station. If the decision is made to re-route the first phase of Rail Baltica outside the capital, the project is at risk of becoming an expensive ‘white elephant’.

A Spanish firm had been contracted to design the track through Riga, but that arrangement has now been cancelled according to Rail Baltica officials. A new tender process will begin in December, the RB management company said.