Russia Considers Connecting Rail Through Baltics & Kaliningrad To Berlin

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baltic_sea-mapRussian Railways is considering launching a passenger train along the route St. Petersburg – Kaliningrad – Berlin, passing through Latvia, Lithuania and Poland en route, Victor Golomolzin, the CEO of Kaliningrad Railroad, part of Russian Railways told journalists last week.

The route, which is currently connected, yet remains unused, will require some upgrading to bring it to contemporary standards. At present the most viable option for travelers wanting to reach the Baltics or Berlin is either to fly or take the bus, a lengthy journey. The Kaliningrad region is Russia’s westernmost region and an enclave on the Baltic Sea.

“We are generating the idea of launching the Berlin-Kaliningrad-St Petersburg train, taking passengers in Berlin, going through Poland to Kaliningrad, and going from Kaliningrad via Lithuania and Latvia to St. Petersburg,” Golomolzin said. He said that discussions are continuing with the Governments Railway companies of Latvia, Lithuania and Poland over the potential for increased rail connectivity. 

Kaliningrad was previously known as Konigsberg and was the capital city of Prussia up until World War Two, following which it was annexed as a Russian enclave and became part of the Soviet Union, and then the Russian Federal Republic. It is a Port city and home to part of Russia’s Baltic Fleet. Kaliningrad’s major industries are manufacturing, shipping, fishing and amber products, and it maintains strategic importance especially within the auto industry.

Kaliningrad – Fast Facts 

Size: 223sq km

Population: 450,000

GDP per capita: Int.$14,136 (equivalent to Malaysia)

Connections with the other Baltic States as well as Germany, Poland  and St.Petersburg would see Kaliningrad reconnected with Berlin for the first time since 1945, and assist with alternative and less expensive port operation facilities in an increasingly expensive EU.  The enclaves strategic position as a piece of Russia sited inside what remains EU territory has had previous success, an EU sponsored Free Trade Zone in Kaliningrad processed a great deal of EU and Russian products until its eventual closure in 2016 when it fell victim to the EU sanctions, destroying much of its business and those of the European companies that had invested there. The proposal comes as Russia’s borders with the EU are being developed to take advantage of increases in trade as companies seek ways around the sanctions, and try to position themselves for China trade business coming in from the overland train routes, through Russia and into the European Union.

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