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Passengers frustrated with train service delays

What should be a positive period on Latvia's rail network with the arrival of brand new, modern passenger trains to replace ancient rolling stock has instead turned into a headache for passengers and managers alike, reports LTV. 

Recent days have brought delays on almost all train lines, and some people had to endure waits of more than three hours. The chairman of the Passenger Rail (PV) company emphasizes that the manufacturer of the new electric trains, Škoda Vagonka should take responsibility, while the Minister of Transport expects immediate solutions. 

It is 11 p.m. in the evening, and Riga's central station is unusually busy. Passengers are forced to change their plans because a formerly reliable train is now late . 

Passenger Monta: I'm tired of being late so often. It is quite annoying, especially after a long day of work, waiting for some kind of train. I don't even know the reason for the delay, what are the technical reasons. It should be organized, if there is a delay, it should be announced in good time. I have turned on notifications in the [railway] app as well, but nothing happens there.

Passenger Marika:  No-one announced it. The departure board said there would be a delay of 10 minutes. After that it was 12 minutes. When there was no train yet, the time of the next train came on, and I don't know anything anymore. 

Passenger Kristiana: I used to travel from Līvāni with the Daugavpils train. We were more than an hour late there, so it's already more than half an hour here. Hope to see you soon! Thank God it's not for work or anything important, but [the reason] for those with canceled journeys... I don't even know... Winter!

There are various reasons for delays. On some lines, the red traffic signal was on, on others, the train was waiting on a side line to let an oncoming train pass. Also the weather. Due to freezing rain and strong wind, ice had formed on the pantograph of the new electric trains and on the contact networks on the Riga-Aizkraukle section. Because of this, a queue of trains formed and around ten in the evening seven departures traveling along this line were delayed or cancelled.

"In this case, it is clear that Škoda must take responsibility for supplying us with a quality product, and we talk about it with them all the time. Not only do we talk, but we also demand action from them. If the action does not follow, we have contractual punitive sanctions and we will demand them from them," said  Rodžers Jānis Grigulis, chairman of the board of JSC "Pasažieru vilciens".

However, looking at the data over the past three years, the rising percentage of train delays is not a completely new phenomenon. Last year compared to 2021, it increased by 0.59%.  

Grigulis said that during the last years the company "more or less" has kept the schedule fulfillment bar very high: "We are close to 99%. In fact, only in this last month... when we operate the new trains, the statistical data has deteriorated a bit."

However, Transport Minister Kaspars Briškens ("Progressives") emphasized that his patience is near its limit:

"I expect clear solutions, or we will act accordingly with serious decisions. In this case, I also expect the maximum possible punishments for Škoda [Vagonka] for this situation."

Although the situation was better January 23 than January 24, one departure was still canceled due to an uncharged train battery. 

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