Daugavpils scales back new tram line plans

Daugavpils City Council has abandoned plans for a tram line which would connect the center of Latvia's second-largest city with the outlying Jauna forštate district, because otherwise it could not afford to buy new trams. Instead, the tram line is expected to extend only to the northern part of the Fortress district.

Trams in Daugavpils are the most popular form of public transport, racking up some 7.5 million trips per year. There are three tram routes in Daugavpils, the total length of which is about 30 kilometers, and the plans of "Daugavpils satiksme" (Daugavpils transport) were to create a fourth route that would connect the center with one of the most remote and densely-populated neighborhoods. 

However in an unanimous vote, Daugavpils City Council decided to withdraw the previously agreed project, and replace it with a more modest alternative. 

Dagnija Briška, a representative of the Development Department of Daugavpils City Council and the project manager of "Daugavpils satiksme", told about the changes and the reasons:

"With this decision of the City Council, Daugavpils satiksme is instructed to withdraw the application... and to prepare a new project application for the submission of a fresh selection round," Briška said.

The change was acquired because of significant anticipated cost increases, she said.

The new route will be 2.2 kilometers long and will extend only to the northern part of the Fortress area. The residents of the more populous Jauna forštate suburb had hoped that a new tram connection would make life much more convenient for them, but this hope has now disappeared. Residents expressed disappointment to Latvian Radio.

The estimate for the construction of the tram line up to this neighborhood exceeded the total project funds by at least 10 million euros, explained Daugavpils City Council. However, this does not mean that the project is a complete write-off.

"The biggest plus is that more than 4 kilometers of rails, which are now in critical condition, will be renovated," said Briška.

In addition, it is planned to buy new low-floor trams.

"Previously, it was planned to buy five tram cars, now there will be more," Briška said. However, the procurement of trams has also proven to be problematic. Previously, the Lithuanian company Railvec won tenders to supply Daugavpils with the City Star trams manufactured in Russia by Tver Wagon Factory and the production company PK Transportnije sistemi. But there have been many complaints about the technical condition of these trams, admitted the first deputy chairman of Daugavpils City Council Aleksejs Vasiljevs.

"There are a lot of problems with the new trams, if there are so many problems, we will not sign [new] contracts with this tram manufacturer," he said.

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