The state-owned company Lithuanian Railways will conduct a thorough assessment of the decision published today by the European Commission regarding the Rengė stretch, and decide on how to proceed further. Regardless of the decision, however, future activities of the company will be focused on minimising negative impact.
"We will strive to solve the present issue that we have inherited, as well as other problems which haunt us from the past, in a way that's cost-effective and least damaging to Lithuanian Railways. It is still too early to say which path we are going to choose, because we want to study the arguments of the EC in depth – we have enough time for that," said Director-General of Lithuanian Railways Mantas Bartuška.
The Rengė railway stretch was one of the alternative tracks to Latvia. After it was dismantled due to safety concerns, rail travel to Latvia remained intact. In 2007, when the Rengė stretch was still in use, 675,000 tonnes of petroleum products (which account for the bulk of exported production) were hauled from Lithuania to Latvia.
Once the Rengė stretch went defunct, the amount of petroleum products hauled from Lithuania to Latvia fluctuated between 480,000 and 941,000 tonnes per year. Last year, 844,000 tonnes of petroleum products were hauled from Lithuania to Latvia via rail.
Current rail connections with Latvia are not being used to their full capacity – some of the tracks haven't seen any rail traffic for the past 15 years.
EC, which had published its decision today, had given Lithuanian Railways three months to develop a plan to correct the situation and coordinate it with the EC. Furthermore, the EC decision can be challenged before the General Court of the European Union within two months.