“Even though international passenger transport by rail is currently suspended as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, we discussed the possibility of launching passenger transport on the St Petersburg - Kaliningrad route via Latvia in future,” Kleinbergs says. “LDz is now working on issues concerning coordination of the route, and work on this project will continue next year.” 

Existing trains from Russia to Kaliningrad operate via Minsk and Vilnius with the only direct connection from Latvia available via bus. LDz and RZD already cooperate on the existing Riga - St Petersburg/Moscow Latvia Express cross-border service.

LDz and RZD signed an agreement in February for the operation of freight services via Latvia as part of the China - Russia - Latvia - Lithuania - Kaliningrad route. 

The parties also discussed potential collaborations to simplify current regulations, and new projects to promote competitiveness and increase freight volumes on their combined networks. This follows a meeting held last month by the two railways to discuss potential improvements to infrastructure capacity on the Trans-Siberian route. 

“This year, LDz joined the North Sea - Baltic Rail Freight Corridor, and at our initiative the corridor has been extended to Belarus and Russia,” Kleinbergs says. “The connection through Riga has become an important part of the European freight corridor, providing connections with China. This transit route for shipping freight to Latvian ports and further to Western Europe or Scandinavia could share the load with other intensively used corridors and attract more freight.”