Covid-19, Latvia, Railways, Transport

International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Saturday, 04.07.2020, 05:11

Passenger transportation by rail down 40-50% during pandemic in Latvia

BC, Riga, 25.06.2020.Print version
Passenger transportation by rail in Latvia has fallen by 40 to 50 percent year-on-year because of the restrictions imposed during the Covid-19 pandemic, Rodzers Janis Grigulis, CEO of Pasazieru Vilciens rail company, said today in an interview to Latvian Radio, cites LETA.

Grigulis indicated that in April passenger trains were running half-empty, the situation started improving in May and in June passenger transportation really picked up again. 

The head of Pasazieru Vilciens noted that the reduction of passenger numbers differed across various railway lines. The profitable Riga-Jurmala line, for instance, has not been showing good results this summer, while the Riga-Saulkrasti line has been showing very good performance results. 

On the short railway lines, the drop is 20 percent from the same period last year, Grigulis said. 

The positive trend, Grigulis said, is that people are starting to use public transport again, but the downside is many passengers' unwillingness to wear face masks, which are currently mandatory on public transport. 

Commenting on the safety measures taken during the spread of Covid-19, Grigulis said that Pasazieru Vilciens cut the number of its ticket offices and their staff to reduce in-person contacts. Demand for e-tickets, meanwhile, has grown fourfold as compared to last year. The next step will be ticket vending machines (TVM). "We are working on this and soon we will be able to launch test versions," Grigulis said.

Pasazieru Vilciens was established in 2001 to separate domestic passenger services from other functions performed by the state-owned Latvijas Dzelzcels (Latvian Railway). Although initially Pasazieru Vilciens was a 100-percent owned subsidiary of the Latvian Railway, in October 2008 it was transformed into an independent state-owned company.

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