On 4 February, State JSC Latvijas dzelzceļš opened the second rail track in section Skrīveri-Krustpils within the largest project to date, worth more than 100 million euros, which will enable a considerable increase in throughput capacity, traffic speed and safety in the direction from Krustpils to Riga.
Complicated, but necessary
"I would like to emphasise that huge work has been done, which allows us to say that Latvijas Dzelzceļš really implements its objectives – quick, safe and high quality cargo and passenger transportation. I wish all workers of the railway sector, as well as builders, to implement the future, current and planned railway projects that are necessary for our economy in Latvia with the same sense of responsibility," emphasizes Anrijs Matīss, the Transport Minister.
The construction of a completely new railway infrastructure, which includes the construction of a 56 km long rail track, as well as engineering constructions and systems, was performed during the large-scale project. A new bridge over the River Aiviekste was built, which is the first railway bridge built after the regaining of independence of Latvia, as well as the bridge over the River Pērse was reconstructed, and the existing culverts and railway crossings were rebuilt.
The stations and stops of the line underwent considerable changes as well – raised platforms were built, new lighting was installed, benches and waste bins were installed, as well as ramps or sloped access roads for people with special needs were built. Toilets conforming to contemporary needs were built in station buildings and new alarm systems were installed.
"This was a long-expected and carefully prepared project that is necessary for the railway and Latvia, as well. It will allow the company to work even more effectively by ensuring stable revenue to the state budget and facilitating the development of the railway industry in general; meanwhile the residents will definitely highly appreciate the reconstructed platforms and renovated territories of the stations," says the President of LDz, Uģis Magonis.
The complexity of the project was increased by the requirements set by several municipalities – for instance, in Pļaviņas a noise wall was built for protection against noises generated by the railway; in other places, the quality of railway crossing surfaces was improved. In order to ensure successful train traffic, the station rail tracks had to be extended at several stations during the implementation of the project. In order to improve passenger safety while waiting for trains, isle platforms were eliminated at Aizkraukle Station.
A challenge for everyone - LDz and businesses
On 17 March 2010 LDz received two applications for the tender on the construction of the second rail track in section Skrīveri-Krustpils. The offer of the association of companies Skonto Būve, BGMS, ACB and Binders was accepted.
“Construction of rail track are only four words, but they included a serious challenge for the designers and builders, as well as a huge amount of performed work, because it was not only the assembly of the rail track, it was the construction of a complete railway infrastructure – a railway infrastructure that must be present in a member state of the European Union in the 21st century – which is characterised by European level quality, which is modern, safe, which has complicated, but modern engineering and technical solutions, which facilitates the development of the national economy," says Normunds Luste, the representative of the association of construction companies Skonto būve, BMGS, ACB and Binders, Board Member of LLC CBFBinders.
Upon the commencement of the project, the total volume of transported cargo in the section was 24.1 million tonnes per year, which conformed to 97% of the maximum throughput capacity of this section.
The total costs attributable to the project equalled 93.4 million euros, with 65.5 million euros granted by the European Union Cohesion Fund. However, together with project supervision and the funds invested by LDz itself, the costs exceeded the amount of 100 million euros.
Several unforeseen situations arose during the implementation of the project: several explosive objects dating back to war times were found, as well as the consequences of a railway accident of the previous century. "Upon the removal of the soil layer, we discovered a considerable basin of diesel fuel, which was, undoubtedly, eliminated. Specific soil conditions that were not detected during the preliminary research of the project, for instance, the presence of peat, were detected in several areas. The soil base had to be reinforced by replacing the mass of peat with sand and stone chippings," remembers Aija Poča, Head of LDz Project Department.
The railway line from Riga to Daugavpils was the second main railway line built in Tsarist Russia after the railway line from Moscow to St. Petersburg. The fact that this railway line was initially built (1858 - 1861) with two rail tracks bears evidence of the significance of this line. The condition that main railway lines must have two rail tracks was in force during all railway construction works in Tsarist Russia.
During the First World War the section from Ogre to Krustpils of this railway was in close proximity to the front line for two years and it was constantly subject to German artillery fire from the left bank of the River Daugava. Not only station buildings, but the entire railway infrastructure suffered, meanwhile the young state of Latvia could renew this railway by sacrificing the second rail track, which was partially lost during the war.
Despite the considerable growth of traffic since 1941, the second track between Šķirotava and Krustpils stations was not renewed, neither during the Second World War, nor during the first post-war years.
And only due to the planned increase in suburban passenger transportation and the planned electrification of the railway in the direction of Krustpils, was the second track renewed until Ogre in 1953, and after several years it was extended until Skrīveri. Due to a shortage of funds these works were not continued, until on 19 December 2014, after several years of implementing the project co-funded by the European Union Cohesion Fund, this rail track was renewed in section from Skrīveri to Krustpils.
Group Latvijas dzelzceļš comprises the holding company SJSC Latvijas dzelzceļš and five subsidiaries – JSC LatRailNet, a company performing infrastructure charge calculation and railway infrastructure capacity allocation, LDz Cargo LLC, a company providing rail freight and international passenger transportation; LDz infrastruktūra LLC, a company providing infrastructure construction and maintenance works; LDz ritošā sastāva serviss LLC, a company providing rolling stock repairs and maintenance works, and LDz Apsardze LLC, a security company.