The first trip following the new train schedule came from Rīga to Liepāja late Monday evening. Travelers said it was pleasant.
“I drive to Rīga twice a week, I have a warehouse in Olaine. If the bus takes five hours, the train is under three hours. Faster than with the car. And three times cheaper than with the car,” said Arturs.
“It's more ecological, friendly to nature, and it's terribly cheap,” the tourist from Germany Maja summed up.
“It's very comfortable compared to the bus, because on the bus everything hurts from sitting, but you can get up on the train for a walk,” said Dāvids.
Some passengers, however, expressed their displeasure at the proposed departure times - it was a little too late from Rīga, and from Liepaja at five o'clock in the morning - too early.
“It could be about six. Yeah, but it's good in the evening,” said Ziedonis.
Transport Minister Jānis Vitenbergs (National Alliance) promised that “if it is interesting for the Liepājans, then there will be an opportunity to find additional trips”.
According to the number of tickets sold on both first trips, passengers were around two hundred in each. The Transport Minister considers this as a good indicator, which also breaks with the observed situation elsewhere in Latvia – the interest of passengers in train traffic is increasing.
“Rail is the priority we would like to move passengers toward, like a number of Western European countries. In this case, matching times by combining the already existing Dobele route. This is possible fiscally neutrally without additional funding,” the Minister added.
On the other hand, Sigita Zviedre, head of the communication and marketing part of AS “Passenger Train”, said that the company's “calculations show that, according to forecasts, direct expenditure could exceed revenue by a quarter”.
“It should be noted that the scheduling of all train trips, including to Liepāja, is carried out in accordance with the public order contract. This means that the State undertakes to cover the losses,” said Zviedre.