On 14 December 2022 the Saeima has approved Jānis Vitenbergs as Minister of Transport, who will work on measures aimed at developing a safe, convenient, and environmentally friendly transport infrastructure that will ensure the mobility needs of the population and change daily travel habits in the long term.
“The industry’s biggest challenge is to ‘green’ traffic, considering that vehicles are one of the biggest sources of air pollution. As elsewhere in Europe, we will continue to strengthen the railway as the backbone of public transport in Latvia by investing in its development with funding from the state budget and European Union (EU) funds,” emphasised Vitenbergs.
As part of the modernization of railway traffic, new, modern electric trains will start running on the Riga-Jelgava, Riga-Aizkraukle, Riga-Skulte, and Riga-Tukums routes next year. Also, until the end of 2023, modernisation of railway stations and stops and construction of 48 elevated train platforms as well as implementation of projects to improve safety and increase speed are planned.
As stressed by the Minister of Transport, by strengthening railway traffic, work on the implementation of the Rail Baltica project should continue next year, where the most important measures will be the conclusion of the procurement procedure for the construction works of the Rail Baltica main line in Latvia and the start of construction outside Riga in the priority section of the Misa-Lithuania border. The construction of the Riga Central Railway hub and the section of the Riga International Airport, the design of sections of the main track, as well as the development of construction projects for the Salaspils Intermodal Cargo Terminal, Rail Baltica regional stations and infrastructure maintenance points will also continue.
“Regional public transport plays a key role in ensuring the mobility of population throughout the country. One expects that regional bus traffic throughout the country will provide passenger transportation with modern equipped and comfortable buses in the second half of next year. Also, a wider implementation of the unified public transport ticket system in regional passenger transport is planned, giving the opportunity to buy a single ticket from the starting point of a trip to a destination on routes of regional significance,” stated the Minister of Transport.
As part of the implementation of the Recovery and Resilience Facility reform, one intends to develop an integrated, sustainable public transport plan for the metropolitan area of Riga. In its turn, with the financing of EU funds, the modernization of the city fleets will continue until the end of next year, by purchasing environmentally friendly buses.
According to the Minister, the improvement of the national road infrastructure will continue next year, with an emphasis on regional and local roads, as well as bridge construction works. “To promote safer and more comfortable daily movement for cyclists and pedestrians, the development and implementation of micromobility infrastructure will be continued. Next year, it is planned to start the construction of several sections of pedestrian-cyclist roads,” indicated Vitenbergs.