Baltic railway companies want to revive the Amber Train service

The Amber Train service connecting the Baltic states with Scandinavia and Western Europe will revive soon with a more competitive profile. The Baltic railway companies involved in the project held a meeting to examine how to make the service attractive and efficient under the current supply chain circumstances. Pricing and state support seem to be shaping the service’s future.

Latvian Railways, LDz Cargo, LatRailNet, Estonian Railways, Operail and LTG Cargo all attended the multilateral meeting. Their main objective was to find a way to revive the Amber Train service and make it more competitive and profitable for all the companies involved.

After the war in Ukraine started and respective sanctions were imposed on Russia and Belarus, the Baltic railway companies lost a substantial part of their freight volumes. With their numbers and revenues experiencing a dramatic decline, companies like the Lithuanian Railways and Latvian Railways considered releasing employees to deal with financial losses.

In an attempt to diversify their services and make up for the lost money, Baltic railway companies all considered the Amber Train option. The service was established in 2018 on the route between Šestokai on Lithuania’s border with Poland, Riga and Tallinn, a journey of 650 kilometres.

It is an intermodal service focusing on transporting wood products linking Scandinavia and the Baltics with the rest of Europe. Gradually the service lost some of its momentum and became less popular since companies were focusing on other opportunities. However, now it is set to return.

Pricing and support main objectives

The parties involved in the latest Amber Train meeting were already in close communication. Nevertheless, the get-together was a good opportunity to express some of their views and proceed to collective decisions regarding the service’s future. Rinalds Pļavnieks, a board member of Latvian Railways, vividly summed up the expectations for the service: “The three countries’ project has a large potential, and we have an excellent opportunity to develop this potential. To accomplish this, we need to agree on the following essential points – the end prices conformity with market demand, the regularity of rail transport and all three Baltic states’ support for this project”, he said.

On his behalf, Mindaugas Skunčikas, head of strategic and business development at LTG Cargo, mentioned that “relaunching rail cargo traffic would create client demand”. He nonetheless did not miss the chance to underline that the Amber Train project might have some considerable ambitions; however, state support is vital if partners want it to run in the long term.

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Author: Nikos Papatolios

Nikos Papatolios is editor of RailFreight.com, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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