Railway competitiveness can be improved with railway tariffs, which have to be reviewed in order to make sure they are equal to tariffs set in other Baltic States, notes Transport Minister Uldis Augulis.
The tariff matter is also something that should be addressed by the new chairman of Latvian Railway. Providing a good offer would only improve overall competitiveness of Latvia’s transit corridor.
When asked how the problem surrounding the infrastructure fee can be resolved, Augulis said it is necessary to survey the situation and the system as a whole. «We need to look if we do not overpay in other areas and look at how the system functions. In any case – the situation with the current infrastructure fee is a problem,» – said the minister.
Acceptable railway infrastructure fee is not the only way to attract cargoes, said Augulis. Businessmen also actively participate in exhibitions around the world in order to establish business contacts and secure cargoes for Latvia. The upcoming 16+1 cooperation format’s conference in Riga will include participation of businessmen and different seminars to help better demonstrate Latvia’s capabilities as a reliable transit corridor. It also means the attraction of cargoes from China and Kazakhstan.
In January, as compared with the same period of 2015, turnover of cargoes in Latvia’s ports decreased by 14.5% to 5.6 million tons, as reported by Transport Ministry’s Transit Policy Department.
Baltic Association – Transport and Logistics notes that work on reviewing Latvia’s non-competitive railway tariffs should be continued. The association adds that Latvia’s railway tariffs are some of the highest among European countries. «The current system is outdated and does not comply with the current economic situation. As a result, the country loses millions worth of cargoes, which negatively impacts the development of Latvia’s national economy,» – explains the association.
Director of KPMG Baltics Julija Masane-Ose notes that, looking from a business perspective, the decline in cargoes in the Baltic region is logical. «Carriers admit that prices at Russian Ustyug port are higher than those in Baltic States. This is due to expensive initial investments. The high price is nonetheless compensated by relatively low transport costs, including better railway tariffs,» – says the expert.
According to board member of Kālija parks Alvis Haze, existing railway tariffs prevent the company from successfully competing with other ports. Commenting on the decline of cargoes and lasting stagnation at the terminal, Haze noted that this problem is a commercial one, namely the non-competitive Latvian railway infrastructure and tariffs.