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Estonia Government Backs Plan for High-Speed Rail Link to Latvia

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Sept. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Estonia’s government approved plans to build a high-speed rail link to Latvia under the Rail Baltica project that would link the region to Poland and western Europe.

Estonia expects to start investment in 2018-2019 after the government approved a feasibility study by U.K.-based consultant AECOM, Economy Minister Juhan Parts told a news conference today in the capital Tallinn. Estonia will seek financing from the European Union’s next budget in 2014, he added.

“We should concentrate on building as many physical connections with western Europe as possible,” Prime Minister Andrus Ansip told the same news conference. Lithuanian Premier Andrius Kubilius and Latvia’s Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis both support the project, he added.

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania -- three former Soviet Baltic republics -- have sought to align themselves with Europe after the fall of communism 20 years ago, joining the EU in 2004. They are seeking to bolster road, rail and energy connections with the 27-nation bloc after they exited recessions in 2008-2009.

Estonia’s state-owned Eesti Raudtee rail company plans to create a joint venture with its Latvian and Lithuanian counterparts to develop the project, Parts said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ott Ummelas in Tallinn at oummelas@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net