The €430m (£380m) Central Hub in Riga, Latvia, includes reconstruction of Riga Railway Station complex, construction of a railway bridge across the River Daugava, construction of tracks, removal of embankments and construction of an overpass, as well as construction of the adjacent infrastructure.
The contracting team was officially welcomed to the Central Hub building site by a group that included the chairmen of the bodies leading the project and a representative of the supervisory team of civil engineers from Egis-Deutche Bahn. The residents of Latvia, as well as the builders and others implementing the project, were also remotely addressed by EU and Latvian officials.
“This day is a milestone in European integration history,” said EU commissioner Adina Ioana Vălean. “A modern state-of-the-art railway that will bring us closer together. Rail Baltica has always been a priority for the European Commission – it is one of our critical infrastructure projects, completing our core transport network along the TEN-T. This massive project will bring in new businesses, attract start-ups, create new jobs and new opportunities, and improve citizens’ living standards. I congratulate you that despite global pandemic you found a way not to hold back on this project’s constructional phase in a safe and secure manner.”
Latvian prime minister Krišjānis Kariņš said: “Rail Baltica is the largest infrastructure project, not only in the Baltic region but throughout the European Union. The importance of it has only increased in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. This project is of strategic and geopolitical importance: it will connect our economy to the European Union’s single market, increase our international competitiveness and also the security of the region. It should be acknowledged that the Rail Baltica project is also one of the most complex in terms of its scale and technical solutions Latvia has been involved in after the regaining of its national independence. I would like to commend the ability of all the parties involved to come to an agreement in the name of a larger target, so that all would benefit from the opportunities provided by Rail Baltica, both for our economy and for the population.
Agnis Driksna, chairman of the management board of RB Rail said: “With the beginning of works in Rīga Central Railway Station, we mark the beginning of construction works of Rail Baltica in Latvia. As of today, Rail Baltica construction works are taking place in all three Baltic States. As a result of the reconstruction of Riga Central Station and surrounding infrastructure, Latvia will gain new high-speed, environmentally friendly international and local railway services. Furthermore, the travel time between the capitals of the Baltic states will be reduced by half.”
The building site is set up to enable continuous work and social distancing for about 100 workers employed on the site and working in day and night shifts, said Bererix project leader Xavier Debruche. “In order to meet all requirements, to prevent carrying and spreading of COVID-19 on the building site, and to ensure timely construction process of the Central Hub in Riga also in an emergency situation, Bererix has assessed all on-site construction processes, performed a risk assessment for the work processes and intensity of worker interactions, as well as has prepared solutions and a work organisation plan in line with the WHO guidelines and the Latvian government instructions.”
To ensure strict adherence to the rules, operations of the BERERIX team and its contractors will be controlled by an officer responsible for Covid-19 matters, and the monitoring results will be recorded in a specially developed Bererix Covid-19 app. To enable workers to keep the required physical distance in communal premises, they will be divided in teams of 12 to work on the building site.
In addition to the general mandatory requirements regarding social distancing, personal hygiene and face coverings, on-site workers are specially trained and instructed about the nature of the virus, its symptoms and ways of spreading. Other measures include assessing each worker’s health and PPE before starting work, controlling the number of people using communal facilities and disinfecting tools and equipment.