Latvian Railways pulls plug on major electrification project

The €441 million project to electrify Latvia's rail infrastructure has been cancelled after being mulled over and delayed for years. 

The board of Latvia's state railway company, Latvijas Dzelzceļš (Latvian Railway), decided on the matter last week, and now the move has been approved by the company's council.

The company had planned to carry out two projects during the EU 2014-2020 Cohesion Fund period, namely developing a transport node in Daugavpils, Latvia's second city, and executing major electrification measures with the goal of overhauling railway power infrastructure across Latvia.

"The planning and development of these two projects was carried out at a time when railway infrastructure carried 45 million to 55 million tons of freight a year. Now the situation has changed substantially, and the changes brought about by global trends and the geopolitical situation as concerns freight volume and freight segments means we have to make adjustments in railway infrastructure projects," said Latvian Railway boss Māris Kleinbergs.

The company said the current and forecast situation in the transit industry would make the investment impracticable. 

Latvian Railway still hopes that EU funds earmarked for the project would be available for smaller projects concerning climate goals and improving passenger service. The company is consulting the Transport Ministry to identify alternative projects it could carry out.

Last year, the Transport Minister expressed doubts as to the feasibility of the major infrastructure project in its existing form.

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