On September 22, the Rail Baltic Business Network high-level debate “Rail Baltica – Future Railway for Business” took place in Tallinn under the Connecting Europe conference, one of the most important events concerning transport in Europe.
The interest for the debate that was held as the last event of the two-day transport conference was very big and the cinema auditorium used as the venue of the event was entirely full – more than 130 people was listening to the debate.
Rail Baltica’s business potential was discussed by Mr. Henrik Hololei, Director-General of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport, Mr. Claudio Richardson, Managing Director of KÜHNE + NAGEL Estonia, Mr. Siim Kallas, Former Vice President of the European Commission for Transport, Mrs. Baiba Rubesa, Managing Director of Rail Baltica, Mr. Alberto Cozzi, Head of Special Projects at Trieste Port, and Mr. Håkan Fagerstrom, Head of Cargo at Tallink Grupp.
Henrik Hololei, who did the opening of the conference, confirmed his complete belief in the Rail Baltica project and its importance. “To those who are constantly complaining about the lack of cargo, I would like to say that when there is no infrastructure, there cannot be any cargo. The duty of the state is to create opportunities and take a look at the future. When there is a chance, then there is definitely somebody who makes the things happen,” he said.
The Managing Director of Rail Baltica, Baiba Rubesa explained that the new railway creates new business opportunities in several areas – for cargo both in the Baltics, as well as in the north-south and east-west routes, passenger transport, but also due to modern multimodal ports and terminals. “Rail Baltica will indeed create a whole new economic corridor,” she said.
Claudio Richardson sees opportunities for Rail Baltica also on the New Silk Road. According to him, it is only a matter of time when Chinese goods will arrive by train directly to Northern Europe. “Estonia is the best possible destination in the region for the New Silk Road. That due to its geographical location, connections and adjacent markets, which in addition to the Baltics also include Finland and Sweden,” he explained.
The Head of Cargo at Tallink Grupp, Håkan Fagerstrom said that today, there is so much cargo on Via Baltica, i.e. the highway leading from Czech Republic to Tallinn, that there are traffic jams and a lack of truck drivers. “These goods need a new passageway and that is where the opportunity opens for Rail Baltica. I see huge potential here, since the Far East already has a railway straight to Central Europe, which means that the quantity of goods carried on this road is increasing,” said Fagerstrom. However, he added that, before the construction has not started, not a single entrepreneur really dares to count with Rail Baltica.
The non-profit organisation Rail Baltic Business Network was created to give entrepreneurs a better chance of express their opinion on the issues related to the new Rail Baltica railway, and to engage business communities in the development of Rail Baltica and the mapping of the related business opportunities already from the early stages.