Railway infrastructure management issues of importance to Lithuania were discussed with the EU Transport Commissioner

Date

2018 02 13

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Minister of Transport and Communications Rokas Masiulis and Violeta Bulc, Transport Commissioner of the European Union (EU), currently visiting Vilnius, discussed the issues of importance to Lithuania related to the international transport infrastructure and mobility. The European Commissioner introduced the provisions of Lithuania aimed at the implementation of solutions in the transport sector initiated by the EU by harmonising them with the interests of the country as much as possible.

“One of the key topics of the meeting is further financing and implementation of the “Rail Baltica” project. We have drawn the European Commission’s attention to the fact that the management of railway infrastructure is of a key importance to Lithuania, in particular in terms of national security,” said Minister of Transport and Communications R. Masiulis.

Introducing the progress of the “Rail Baltica” project, the Minister Rokas Masiulis assured the European Commissioner Ms Bulc that Lithuania was planning to implement this project by the end of 2025. One of the key conditions for the implementation of such a large-scale infrastructure project is the investment of EU funds, which will also be important in the new period of 2021-2027. The aim is to ensure effective coordination of the project implementation in the Baltic States.

The readiness of Lithuania to separate the activities of cargo, passenger transport and public railway infrastructure management in the railway sector by reorganizing AB “Lietuvos geležinkeliai” and creating a group of specialized companies correspondingly was also discussed.

According to the Minister, it is important that cargo transportation by rail through the Baltic States is already possible, without waiting for the final implementation of the project. By 2019, Lithuania is planning to connect Kaunas with the Palemonas Intermodal Terminal by means of the European railway track, thus ensuring the possibility of convenient transportation of cargo by already built part of “Rail Baltica” and continue to build this line to the border between Lithuania and Latvia. The “Rail Baltica” line is expected to expand successfully the international railway corridor No. 8, will help to attract more cargo and increase the economic benefits of the project.

The “Mobility Package” initiated by the EC, which is crucial dealing with the issues related to the financing of road infrastructure and road freight transportation was also discussed at the meeting. Lithuania supports the EC proposal to apply only the charge for the distance travelled all over the EU from 2023, completely refusing user charges. The bill is currently under consideration, whereby offers to change the road user charge in the country to e. toll based on distance travelled, and to differentiate the toll rates according to vehicle pollution levels from 2020 already. In the Baltic States, Lithuania is the first to take realistic steps towards implementing a new model for charging tolls for using the roads of national importance.

In order to improve the accessibility of Lithuania by air transport, Lithuania notes that regular flights of air carriers to the main airports of EU countries are one of the main works of the Ministry of Transport and Communications and State Enterprise Lithuanian Airports. At present, the EU legislation severely limits the ability to support non-competitive flight routes by state funds. Lithuania points out that these rules are too strict; the requirements should be more flexible.