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VNĪ: A functional 30-metre-long metal tunnel is being built under the railway at the Latvian-Belarusian border to help secure the country's external land border


The construction of a 30-metre-long tunnel at the Latvian-Belarusian border has been successfully completed. This will improve border surveillance in the area where the border is crossed by a railway line. The 30-tonne heavy metal tunnel is one of the most functional and sustainable engineering structures of this type in Latvia, informs Renārs Griškevičs, Chairman of the Board of SJSC (VAS) “Valsts nekustamie īpašumi” (State Real Estate).

 “Our aim is to develop a modern border security infrastructure that is functionally suited for the work of the responsible services. It also means designing new engineering solutions. The modern cross-border structure will help border guards to react promptly and carry out their duties also in the vicinity of the railway line,” explains Griškevičs.

The almost 30-metre-long tunnel is 4.6 metres wide and 3.6 metres high. The engineering structure made of metal plates was prepared in advance and transported to the construction site by railway. A special crane used by company “Latvijas dzelzceļš” for infrastructure maintenance works was used to assemble the tunnel. Pile planking was used to reinforce the trench.

The assembly of construction took four days without a break, day and night, so that the freight train traffic on the Daugavpils-Polotsk line, which was suspended during the construction works, could be restored as soon as possible. Eight engineers and more than 25 workers were involved in the construction works, according to Jūlija Zandersone, CEO of construction contractor Citrus Solutions. 

Work on the construction and installation of the railway crossing will continue in May, including the paving of the tunnel to allow border guards to move quickly on ATVs or other vehicles. The permanent fence and other border protection infrastructure will be constructed up to the railway embankment on both sides. 

By 2 May, 56.45 km of fence had been constructed in the first phase of construction of the infrastructure that is necessary for border protection and its handover to the client (VNĪ) has started. In the second phase of construction, construction sites have been set up, deforestation has been completed along 17.39 km stretch and the design is under way. Deforestation will soon be completed on another 15.98 km stretch. In the third phase of construction or the Daugava works, the design of six communication towers with access roads has started.

Construction of the border zone Latvia and Belarus covering the total distance of 173 km has been provided for within the project. The first phase of the fence 85.9 km long will be completed by early autumn 2023, while the second phase of 63.9 km and the third phase of ~16.7 km - by the end of 2024. The total cost of the first two phases of the border infrastructure construction is €102.7 million (including VAT) for construction and related services and works. The budget (construction, related services and works) for the six communication towers with access roads to be built as part of the third phase is estimated at around €3.6 million (including VAT). These are planned to be covered with the support of the EU funds. In parallel with the construction of the fence, preparatory work has started on equipping the fence with state-of-the-art technologies; the responsibility for the construction and implementation of the border's technological infrastructure has been entrusted to SJSC (VAS) “Latvijas Valsts radio un televīzijas centrs”.

Implementation of the Eastern Border Construction Project is supervised by the Outer Border Infrastructure Construction Supervisory Committee, which consists of representatives from the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Economics, Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development, State Border Guard, Provision State Agency, SJSC (VAS) “Latvijas Valsts radio un televīzijas centrs”, JSC (AS) “Latvijas Valsts meži”, Latvian Geospatial Information Agency and the National Armed Forces.

Photo and video coverage of the tunnel construction is available here.

For up-to-date information on construction works on the Latvian-Belarusian border, please visit VNĪ website.

VNĪ successfully implements 44 projects of national importance, 24 of which are under construction. The total implementation budget of the projects exceeds EUR 336 million.  VNĪ provides professional real estate management and administration for 352 building and structure properties, comprising 1000 buildings with a total area of 0.95 million square metres, as well as land beneath structures with a total area of 607 hectares, and 3460 land properties with a total area of 907 hectares. VNĪ is one of 23 Latvian companies that received the highest platinum award in the Sustainability Index evaluation of the Institute for Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility, demonstrating good governance and sustainability of its operations. The company was founded in 1996 and the Ministry of Finance is its sole shareholder.