Year-long delays for railway platforms in Latvia

In Latvia, out of almost 50 planned comfortable and modern railway platforms, passengers can currently use only five. The project should have been completed last year. Why are there delays? Latvian Radio asked this question in a report on May 20.

By the end of last year, LDz was preparing to renew 44 railway stops on electrified lines. In addition, brand-new stops were to be built at four locations. These are the "Šmerlis" stop on the Sigulda line, "Dauderi" in the direction of Skulte and two stops in the direction of Bolderāja. Although the deadline was firmly set for the end of last year, this was not done.

In addition, none of the 48 stops is now fully completed. Five of them can be used by passengers, but they still need to be improved.

Four are on the Jelgava line and one towards Skulte. This is the "Ziemeļblāzma" stop in Riga. Three more stops on the Jelgava line will be ready for passengers in the near future. These are the newly built "Children's Hospital/Bērnu slimnīca" and "Baloži" stops, as well as the renovated "Jaunolaine" stop. The others are under construction.

One of them is the "Priedaine" stop on the Tukums line. Construction work started only two months ago. The Priedaine station is fenced off, the old platform has been partially demolished and its pieces are stacked around the station. Reinforced concrete sleepers are strewn along the tracks. Workers are visible, but there is virtually no activity at the time observed.

The stops are expected to be put into operation gradually by the end of the year. This means that the project will be delayed by a year.

Latvian Railways (LDz) excuse is the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has created a crisis in construction.

"Even now, the biggest risks and challenges are related to the resources of the builders in terms of labor resources," says LDz spokesperson Agnese Līcīte. "I have to say that we are, of course, very actively monitoring the status of the project. Together with the construction works, solutions are being sought. Of course, we expect supporting documents for contract extensions, and these are carefully weighed. Only then are decisions on contract extensions taken."

The project was previously estimated to cost €44.4 million but now LDz refuses to give a figure, saying that it will be possible to say when the platforms are put into operation.

85% of the planned costs are covered by the European Union (EU). Its funding should have been spent last year. However, LDz says that the funding will be spread over two programming periods for EU funds, so work is ongoing. This is also confirmed by the Central Finance and Contracts Agency (CFLA), which is not aware of any extension of the project deadline. The last deadline mentioned by LDz is summer this year. The CFLA therefore expects LDz to justify why the project will be delayed.

Of the nearly €38 million foreseen by the EU, LDz was able to use only €17.5 million by the end of last year.

This is what Latvian Radio found out from the CFLA, which said that if the project costs are higher than originally planned, LDz will have to cover the extra costs, probably from its own budget. The other option is to raise the money from another EU fund.

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