Transport Ministry to assess rail electrification project

On February 1 Latvia's new Transport Minister Tālis Linkaits (New Conservative Party) discussed a number of pressing issues within the Latvian transport system. 

First off, there's a theoretical possibility that state-owned company Pasažieru vilciens (Passenger Rail) might be replaced with a private carrier, he said appearing on LTV's morning news program Rīta panorāma.

"Yes, it's possible. It's written in the contract between the state and Pasažieru vilciens. If the company is unable to provide new trains, suitable for the 21st century, the Transport Ministry has the right to issue a fresh competition for passenger service operations," Linkaits said.

According to Linkaits, Pasažieru vilciens could be dissolved should it not win the new contest, but he admitted that this is currently only a theoretical possibility.

Recently, the procurement watchdog banned Pasažieru Vilciens from signing a massive train supply contract with a Spanish firm, but Linkaits remains sure it's possible that Latvia will receive new electric trains on time. 

"There's nothing so catastrophic as to make a deal impossible," Linkaits said. “From the 32 pages the Public Procurement Monitoring Bureau has written about the contract, I gather that this is nothing serious. It is possible to move ahead,” Linkaits said.

He also said he has tasked ministry employees to assess the ongoing rail electrification project.  

"Rail electrification is, in itself, a thing we need, but the project in question has been mulled over and delayed for years, and we have arrived to an illogical model," he said.

He said that, for example, the current project provides for an electrified line from Daugavpils and Rēzekne to the Šķirotava station in Rīga, but it remains unclear as to how freight would arrive to ports.

A preliminary assessment of the project is to conclude within two weeks, Linkaits said. 

Transport
Economy