Lithuania offers to rebuild dismantled rail to Latvia by late 2019

Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways) has submitted to the European Commission a plan for rebuilding a dismantled railway track from Mazeikiai, a town in northwestern Lithuania where Orlen Lietuva's crude refinery is located, to Renge, in Latvia, by the end of 2019.

"At the end of last week, we submitted the plan to the European Commission for approval. It calls for rebuilding the railway section by the end of 2019," Mantas Dubauskas, spokesman for the Lithuanian state railway company, told BNS.

He said that the EU's executive body was expected to approve the plan by March 1.

The spokesman added that the company would not give further details, including estimated costs, for the time being.

Earlier estimates put the cost of rebuilding the Renge track, removed back in 2008, at around €20 million, but Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai CEO Mantas Bartuska has told BNS that he expects it to be lower.

Ricardo Cardoso, spokesman for competition at the European Commission, confirmed to BNS that Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai had submitted a proposal for remedying the competition infringement for which it was last October slapped with a fine of almost €28 million.

"We are monitoring Lithuanian Railways' remedy design and implementation," he said.

Maris Ozols, spokesman for Latvian Railways, told BNS that Latvia had not been provided with the plan.

"Lithuanian Railways have not yet presented the plan you describe, therefore, we cannot comment on our actions regarding that," Ozols said.

"However, the position of the Latvian Railway has not changed -- we are still looking forward to Lithuanian Railways to keep its promise and restore the railway infrastructure and railway connection on Lithuanian side as soon as possible so the line can be operated," he added.

Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai last December filed an appeal to the EU's General Court in Luxembourg over the €27.87 million fine imposed by the European Commission for hindering competition and in early January paid the fine from its accumulated reserve.

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