New trains might be running before year's end, after all

The first passenger trips aboard the new Škoda electric trains bought by Latvia will take place some time in December, Minister of Transport Kaspars Briškens (Progressives) announced on social media November 17. The exact date when the new electric trains will start doing their jobs are yet to be specified.

Travellers might be forgiven a certain amount of skepticism as deadlines connected with the long-running purchase and introduction of the new electric trains have already been shunted back several times.

At first, it was promised that passengers would be able to board the new trains by the end of summer, then only in autumn. Transport Minister Briškens then predicted that the new trains might start running only next year.

An agreement was originally concluded between Latvian state rail company JSC "Pasažieru vilciens" (Passenger train) and the Czech company "Škoda Vagonka" for the purchase of 32 new electric trains back in 2019, though that came off the back of a tender that started all the way back in 2015. First the Covid pandemic and then the war in Ukraine delayed delivery.

So far Latvia has received 18 new trains, which are undergoing inspections and all the necessary preparatory work in order to start their operation.

Each electric train consists of four carriages and has seats for 436 passengers. Trains will run in the direction of Aizkraukle, Tukums, Skulte and Jelgava. The trains have one-level boarding from the elevated passenger platforms, which not only ensures the accessibility of the service to everyone, but also shortens the time of exchanging passengers at stops. Wider train doors also contribute to the speed of boarding and alighting.

Compared to the trains currently in use, the trains run smoother and the noise level in the cabins is lower, according to the Ministry for Transport – though that's not a particularly difficult standard to achieve given Latvia's aged stock of passenger trains.


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