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BESIX awarded Rail Baltmica Central Station project

BESIX and Sia Rere Būve will design and build the Rail Baltica Central Station project in Riga, Latvia, including the new central station building as well as a major railway bridge on the Daugava river, the railway embankments and track works.

Financed by the European Union and the Republic of Latvia, the contract was awarded on 29th May 2019 by Eiropas Dzelzceļa līnijas, an executive agency of the Latvian Ministry of Transport;

The project is part of the larger Rail Baltica Project, that will integrate the Baltic States in the European rail network and connect the cities of Helsinki, Tallinn, Riga, Vilnius and Warsaw. It is the largest infrastructure project in the Baltic region for 100 years.

Eiropas Dzelzceļa līnijas (EDzL), the executive agency of the Latvian Ministry of Transport for the implementation of the Rail Baltica project in Latvia, has awarded the joint venture BESIX–Sia Rere Būve the contract to design and build the Rail Baltica Central Station project. The contract was signed on 29th May 2019 and is worth €430 million. The project is financed 85% by the European Union via the Connecting Europe Facility and 15% by the Republic of Latvia.

The works include the construction of the Central Station in Riga, a major railway bridge on the Daugava river, the railway embankments and track works. Besides the new facilities, the joint venture will also install, plan and coordinate all temporary infrastructure to ensure rail traffic flow during the works.

The Central Station building has an area of 12,600 sqm and consists in a long-span steel structure with a 2,100 sqm glazed roof. The works also include the passenger platforms, the renovation of the existing station building, pedestrian tunnels, the junction between Timoteja and Elizabetes streets and associated demolition works.

The new railway bridge, with a total length of 1,056 metres, will be installed next to the existing one over the Daugava River, from Maskavas to Jelgavas streets. It has a slender design to blend in with the architecture of the city. Its construction comprises embankments, emergency access and safety barriers as well as the improvement of adjacent areas.

The companies will install new rails and a new catenary system over a 2.5-kilometre distance within the city of Riga. The installation of the new rails involves the reconstruction of the 1520mm gauge track as well as the construction of 1435 mm gauge infrastructure complying with the European rail network standard. Temporary rails will be installed during the works.

The project includes relocating existing utilities, obtaining building permits and managing stakeholders.

The project presents unique challenges and a high degree of complexity. In this regard, BESIX’s experience with similar projects, combined with the group’s in-house engineering capabilities allow construction methodologies to be integrated into the design stage, minimising difficulties during execution. Besides the constraints imposed by its urban environment, such as limited working areas, the project also needs to be divided into several phases so that the station, adjacent roads and public transport lines can remain in operation at all times while two different rail gauge systems are combined.

The works will be completed in 2026.

The Rail Baltica Central Station project is part of the €5 billion Rail Baltica Project, whose objective is to integrate the Baltic states in the European rail network. It is the largest infrastructure project in the Baltic region for a hundred years. Financed by the European Union, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, it covers a distance of 870 kilometres and will connect the railway infrastructure of the Baltic states with Northern and Western Europe. Historically, the Baltic states have been part of the West-East rail corridor using the 1520mm track gauge instead of the European rail network’s 1435mm gauge.

Rik Vandenberghe, CEO of BESIX said: “BESIX is very proud to participate in the construction of the Rail Baltica project. This is a major infrastructure project, for Latvia and the Baltic states of course, but also for Europe as a whole and the economic integration of the continent. The Central Station project, located in the heart of Riga, presents a high level of complexity that BESIX, along with its partner Sia Rere Būve, is honoured to achieve. In this regard, the Republic of Latvia can count on BESIX’s Engineering department and operational staff, in particular on their extensive expertise in the construction of state-of-the-art transport infrastructure, to make this project a great success.”

Guntis Aboltins-Abolins, Chairman of the Board of RERE GRUPA: “We consider this a vital project in our portfolio. We’re delighted to have attracted a partner the calibre of BESIX and Rizzani de Echer. Their involvement in the Latvian market is an accomplishment. I and my team expect to cooperate closely and achieve quality results in jointly delivering the largest construction project in Latvia to date.”