In the meeting with Kaspars Gerhards, Minister of Transport of the Republic of Latvia and Uģis Magonis, Chairman of the Board of Latvijas dzelzceļš (LDz) on 2 July Johannes LUDEWIG, Executive Director of the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER) invited the government to take several steps in order to strengthen competitiveness of LDz between neighboring railways, ports and road carriers.
J.Ludewig pointed that in the situation when the credit rating in Latvia falls, unemployment rate in April exceeds 16% and economic crisis seriously affects Europe and the whole world, LDz keeps freight volumes at the same level as last year. In comparison, freight volumes of East-European and Central European railways have decreased by more than 30%, but of West European railways almost by 29%, said J.Ludewig.
Executive Director of CER invited the government to find a way how to decrease the charge for the use of railway infrastructure in order to strengthen competition between neighboring railways, ports and road carriers. He noted that it is necessary to ensure balanced investments in infrastructure according to the legislation of the European Union (EU). In his mind, it is necessary to find solutions for unequal distribution of fuel excise tax receipts. Currently receipts from fuel excise tax paid by LDz for diesel are dedicated to a competing sector – for road maintenance. J.Ludewig points that it is important to think over carefully how this money could be invested in railway development, because regardless of good performance and finance indicators, data show that LDz investments in infrastructure are insufficient.
Kaspars Gerhards underlined that he supports railway development and in order to prevent an unequal position it is planned to implement the Eurovignette, which means that road carriers will pay for the use of roads and impact on environment. However, due to the existing economic situation implementation of the Eurovignette for the present delays, said the Minister. K.Gerhards admitted that CER is a very important organization for cooperation between Latvia and the EU institutions, especially regarding railway transport issues, and he hopes that this cooperation will be successful also in the future.
Uģis Magonis, Chairman of the Board of LDz said that the visit of CER Executive Director in Latvia can be considered as a support to LDz. “LDz can be satisfied that the activity of our company is appreciated also by our cooperation partners in Europe, and it has been acknowledged in statements, “added U.Magonis.
Before taking the position of CER Executive Director J.Ludewig was a CEO of Deutsche Bahn AG. More than 20 years he was an official in the German Ministry for Economics and dealt with the issues of energy and economic policy. J.Ludewig has also worked in the office of the German chancellor.
The Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER) is the leading European railway organization. It brings together 72 railway undertakings and infrastructure companies from the European Union, the accession countries (Croatia, Macedonia and Turkey) as well as from the Western Balkan countries, Norway, and Switzerland. CER is based in Brussels and represents its members` interests vis-à-vis the European Parliament, European Commission and Council of Ministers.
Latvijas dzelzceļš joined the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies in 2003.
Prepared by LDz Public Relations Division