Belarus is the most important partner of Lithuanian Railways (AB "Lietuvos geležinkeliai"). The increase of rail freight volumes, completion of electrification works and development of passenger train route Vilnius–Minsk are the main collaboration aspects of Lithuanian Railways and partners in Belarus.
In 2016, 17.37 m tons of freight was transported by rail between Lithuania and Belarus accounting for 36 per cent of the total amount. In 2016, as compared to 2015, freight transportation between Belarus and Lithuania increased by 5.9 per cent. Indicators of January–April 2017 show that transportation flows remain stable. In terms of transported goods, mineral fertilizers accounted for the largest share – the volumes increased by 36 per cent during January–April 2017 as compared to the same period in 2016. Fertilizer transportation volumes depend on capacities of plants, demand for fertilizers in global markets, geopolitical and competition factors.
"Lately, international freight transportation market has been quite complex, therefore, positive results are really satisfying. Nevertheless, we are not planning on stopping – we aim to maintain current freight flows from Belarus, therefore, we are constantly looking for new opportunities to increase them. Rail freight from Belarus through the Port of Klaipėda is a priority, thus, we try to develop this area by applying competitive pricing, providing additional logistics services to the clients", – Gerimantas Bakanas, the First Deputy General Manager of Lietuvos geležinkeliai, spoke in 13th Lithuanian–Belarusian Economic Forum that took place this week in Kaunas.
Freight flows from Belarus were greatly impacted by decreased oil transportation volumes. At the beginning of 2016, upon signing a long-term agreement with BNK (Beloruskaja neftianaja kompanija), the flow of oil products from Belarus increased significantly, however, during the second half of the year, after Russia significantly reduced the supply of crude oil to Belarus, transportation volumes declined and have not yet recovered.
Regardless of existing risks, Lietuvos geležinkeliai sees opportunities for growth. Lithuanian Railways could offer the clients of joint Belarus and China project Great Stone a well-developed complex infrastructure and capacities, advantageous geography covering the area leading to developed industrial park, strategically important Port of Klaipėda and all logistics services provided therein. Collaboration in passenger transportation is also being developed – upon electrifying railway section Naujoji Vilnia–Molodechno, the duration of the journey between Vilnius and Minsk would be reduced by up to 2 hours. In this way, the appeal of railway transport in communication with Belarus would increase.