In 2008, Polish oil company Orlen planned to reroute freight from its refinery at Mažeikiai in northwest Lithuania to the Latvian port of Ventspils via the line using the services of another operator. However, in October that year, LG dismantled the cross-border line forcing Orlen to use the much longer route via Joniškis to reach Latvia. In 2017, the European Commission (EC) fined LG €27.87m for breaching EU competition law by removing the track.

The link, which cost €9.4m to restore, forms part of the line from Mažeikiai to Jelgava, an important junction on the Latvian rail network south of Riga. LG hopes that freight services will resume soon.

A LG train waits to cross the border to Latvia on February 15.

“For Latvia, this is an opportunity to attract additional loads from the Orlen plant and other factories in the region, we have the opportunity to use our Latvian railways and, in a situation where freight flows from Russia are falling, we are interested in attracting every tonne of freight,” says Mr Talis Linkits, Latvia’s minister of transport. “We are ready to start negotiations with Lithuanian Railways on the resumption of passenger traffic as soon as possible. I expect passenger trains to run in this direction by 2022; 2023 at the latest.”