Compiling statistics from the passenger railway sectors of 27 European nations and Japan, the UIC determined that in 2013, the average resident of Latvia traveled only 40 kilometers as a train passenger during the year, compared to the average resident of Switzerland, who traveled an average of 2,307 kilometers over the course of the year.
Behind top country Switzerland, train passengers in Japan and France also chalked up high per-resident average distances traveled during the year, with second-place Japan showing 1912 kilometers of average train travel and France with 1301 kilometers per resident.
While Latvian residents showed the least comparative inclination to use passenger trains, neighboring Lithuania registered only 122 kilometers traveled on average during 2013 per resident, while residents of Estonia traveled an average 182 kilometers last year in their domestic passenger rail system. Greece had the third-lowest train-traveling resident averages for the year, coming in ahead of Lithuania at 125 kilometers per resident.
Latvia’s aging passenger rail system is supposed to be replaced with a brand new fleet. However last month the board of Pasažieru vilciens (PV) was sacked and replaced. Then the new board promptly called off the procurement tender over botched procedures and doubts over sufficient funding sources for the long-term locomotive and rail car lease agreement it was meant to secure.
By the end of August the board plans to have completed a roadmap for achieving the successful turnover of a new fleet of electric locomotives and cars for Latvia’s passenger train system by 2016.
On Monday Transport minister Anrijs Matīss told business news portal nozare.lv that the new fleet would no longer be subject to one single procurement, but would instead be acquired gradually beginning from the year 2016.
Meanwhile, in a move sure to boost passenger enthusiasm, PV announced Monday it would supplement ticketing controls by conductors in order to ensure better statistical oversight of train riders and urged passengers to be responsible and purchase tickets to avoid being fined.
PV was established in 2001 to separate domestic passenger services from other functions performed by the state-owned Latvijas Dzelzceļš (LDz). Although initially PV was a fully owned subsidiary of LDz, in October 2008 it was restructured into an independent state-owned company.