The Baltic region’s largest infrastructure scheme in about a century is now officially underway, with numerous parts of the new Rail Baltica high-speed rail line now under construction.
Rail Baltica’s proposed traveler trains are designed to operate at top speeds of 234 km/h (roughly 145 mph) and provide seamless connections with the rest of the E.U. Once completed, its 870-km (540-mile) rail line will run from Warsaw in the south all the way up to Tallinn in the north, and the Gulf of Finland.
The project’s purpose is to provide a high-speed rail connection that will link the capital cities of Baltic nations Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania to the rest of Europe by way of the Polish capital.
The track comprising these Baltic states’ current rail systems was built using a Russian standard-width gauge, due to their former Soviet occupation in the last century. Whereas they’ve since gained independence, their railroad tracks have not been reconfigured for compatibility with European standards, forcing these nations to rely on Russia for much of their trade and goods transported by rail.
Rail transport from the Baltics into and out of Europe has remained limited since passengers and cargo need to be offloaded and then reloaded onto different trains at the Polish border in order to continue their trip onward.