Transport Minister: new train purchase could be delayed in Latvia

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The recent rejection of the idea of a new vehicle tax on older vehicles may have knock-on effects including a review of several plans to purchase new passenger trains, said Transport Minister Tālis Linkaits  to Latvian Radio October 12.

The Ministry of Transport planned to raise approximately EUR 15 million per year with a second-hand car registration fee. This money was intended to be used for repairs of regional and local roads and starting the construction of bicycle lanes along the country's main roads. A large part of this amount was also intended to be used for the procurement of diesel trains.

Currently, funding for these plans will be sought through reviews of other programs. The condition of diesel trains currently in service with the national “Passenger Train” (Pasažieru vilciens) company is only getting worse because the purchase of necessary spare parts is no longer possible, Transport Minister said.

"We're talking about replacing Zvezda's engine trains. (..) if there are any technical difficulties with the engines, then we cannot purchase the necessary spare parts from Russia. Accordingly, the number of diesel trains in Latvia will be reduced, and the volume of transport by rail will decrease," Linkaits said.

Next year's budget for the procurement of diesel trains amounted to EUR 4.8 million, EUR 989 000 in 2022 and almost EUR 5 million in 2023. The Ministry of Transport considers alternative financing options, for example, that the company Pasažieru vilciens could borrow the necessary funds from banks and could offset these costs later from the state budget. However, the Ministry is already estimating how passengers will feel the shrinkage of the diesel train number.

“The procurement has been announced and the first round has been completed. In fact, we have to decide pretty soon whether we are moving forward with it. If we do not move, we will have to look at the possibilities of reducing the number of trains in Vidzeme, and there will be no longer a combination of trains in Latgale's direction. Three separate trains will have to go instead," the minister said.

New diesel trains were scheduled to arrive in 2023.

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