LITHUANIA’s Ministry of Transport and Communications has signed an agreement with LTG Link, the passenger operating subsidiary of Lithuanian Railways Group (LTG), aimed at improving services in the 2023-32 period.

The agreement aims to encourage modal shift and to meet sustainability objectives laid down in European Union (EU) policy encouraging more people to use rail.

The agreement sets objectives for increasing passenger traffic which LTG Link describes as “ambitious”. Passenger-journeys must increase from the 2022 figure of 4.3 million to 6 million by 2025 and to up to 10 million by 2030.

The average annual amount of co-financing needed to achieve these objectives is expected to reach €40m, including operating support and funding for new trains.

The long-term agreement will allow LTG Link to seek additional funding on the Lithuanian and international financial markets to fund the purchase of new EMUs that will be fully accessible to passengers with reduced mobility.

While the ministry will determine routes, public service quality requirements and control measures, LTG Link will be responsible for timetabling to ensure better coordination with bus services.

The agreement also provides for local authorities to help shape services to meet the particular needs of each region and to coordinate different modes of transport. It is also intended to establish park and ride facilities at stations and to create single ticketing systems making public transport easier to use.

“The agreement with LTG Link has, for [the next] decade, anchored the parties’ desire to further encourage citizens to choose train travel as well as increase the attractiveness of train journeys and improve the quality of services provided,” says Lithuanian minister of transport and communications, Mr Marius Skuodis. “This agreement will increase the quality requirements for the company, will help strengthen control, coordinate schedules and provide long-term financing. What is extremely important - we are laying a solid foundation for the renewal of the entire train fleet.”

“This agreement marks a new milestone in the development of green rail transport,” says LTG Link CEO, Mr Linas Baužys. “Long-term funding will allow us not only to plan and implement what passengers need today, but also to plan for the renewal and expansion of a fleet of trains that is accessible to all people.”