The first train carrying oil left Lithuania’s Mažeikiai for Renge in Latvia, after the railway section connecting the two countries was rebuilt following a fine by the EU.
Lithuania’s state owned Lietuvos Geležinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways) dismantled the track in October 2008 after the Polish-owned Orlen Lietuva, which operates an oil refinery in Mažeikiai, “considered redirecting its freight from Lithuania to Latvia by using the services of another rail operator,” the EU said in 2017 after imposing a fine of 27.8 million euros.
“I am very glad [that] we are together, which means we are capable of cooperation,” Lithuanian Transport Minister Jaroslav Narkevic said during the track’s symbolic opening in Mažeikiai on Saturday.
Tomas Digaitis, spokesman for Lithuanian railways, told BNS that 45 railcars would take 2,700 tons of light oil products from Orlen Lietuva to the Latvian border. Latvia’s railway company Latvijas Dzelzcels (Latvian Railways) would then take over the cargo and transport it to Riga.
The symbolic event was also attended by Latvian Transport Minister Talis Linkaits, Lithuanian Government Chancellor Algirdas Stoncaitis, Mazeikiai Mayor Vidmantas Macevičius, and representatives of Lithuanian Railways, Orlen, Orlen Lietuva and Latvian Railways. The 19-kilometre section was rebuilt in December last year, which cost 9.4 million euros and was carried out by Vitras-S, a railway construction and repairs company owned by Estonia’s railway services group Skinest Rail.
Orlen Lietuva, the Mažeikiai-based oil refiner owned by Polish oil group Orlen, will now be able to take a shorter path to carry its product. Up until now, they were carried to Latvia via Šiauliai, a detour of over 100 kilometres.