While Estonian and Lithuanian rail transport companies are eager to establish new rail links with Latvia, officials in Riga appear to be more cautious over concerns about costs, Latvian Radio reported Monday.
Last week, Elron announced that it wants to launch passenger rail service from Tartu directly to Riga, and the Estonian government already allocated €300,000 toward making this happen. Lithuania's LTG Link announced similar interest in launching passenger rail service from Riga to Vilnius. Neither company has yet submitted official applications to this end in Latvia, however, Latvian public broadcaster LSM writes.
Before international routes can be opened, they must first be safety certified by the European Union Agency for Railways (ERA), and Latvia's State Railway Administration (VDA) will also be evaluating how these new potential routes would affect Latvia's existing transport system, said VDA Director Andulis Zidkovs.
"There are the most profitable departures, which are mostly in the morning and evening, when people go to work and back," Zidkovs said. "On the other hand, the majority of services are those where the state has to cover losses, but the state provides this passenger traffic. For example, I don't think that a trip from Valka to Riga can be profitable if, for example, only ten passengers get on."
Latvian Ministry of Transport representative Edgars Kletnieks, however, is more optimistic about the potential new links, and stressed that the ministry is open to the idea.
"It is good that even before Rail Baltica we have this connectivity between all three Baltic capitals; there have been talks about this before, and in any case we are open to such an idea," Kletnieks said.
As far as the ministry is concerned, he continued, they fully support the open market and competition in rail transport in Europe, including such initiatives, but the question is about costs, among other details.
"I hope that in the end we will also be able to reach an agreement," the ministry official concluded.
Editor: Aili Vahtla