Restructuring of Latvian Railways to increase freight traffic
The newly appointed Minister of Transport of Latvia, Janis Vitenbergs, puts rail transport at the top of his agenda. Increasing freight traffic is one of his priorities and he is ready to restructure Latvian Railways to achieve his goals. It is reported by Railway Supply magazine with reference to RailFreight.
Vitenbergs took over the position on December 14, 2022, claiming to have inherited many problems from his predecessor.
“I am surprised this company has sat around for years, not doing anything to diversify the market. The situation with Russia was difficult for a long time, even before it invaded Ukraine. The lack of alternatives to the Russian market shows negligence from the company’s management,” Vitenbergs said.
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He added that LDz’s competitors were better able to cope with existing problems, which makes him question the model on which LDz operates. That is why Vitenbergs said on the air of the Latvian television that he does not exclude the scenario of the restructuring of the Latvian Railways and its subsidiaries. The main goal is to make this enterprise modern, able to compete in modern conditions.
Vitenbergs explained that LDz should start from the ground up and explore the potential of the Baltic markets, rather than taking larger but uncertain steps. “The rail freight market in the Baltic States is still underused,” he said. In this context, for example, LDz Cargo launched a service in Estonia last week, and the company expects to launch more such regional rail transport.
Indeed, rail freight and intermodal markets in the Baltic States could take a larger share of the transport pie. It is known that most of the cargo coming from Central and Western Europe to the region arrives by trucks. The same applies to internal traffic. In Latvia, out of 60 million tons of cargo transported annually, only two to three million tons are transported by rail. “It’s a huge difference,” said Vitenbergs adding that “the local market, the Baltic market, is where we should move more cargo to rail to avoid road congestion.”
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