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Nowadays, more and more freights, especially goods with high added value are carried in containers; therefore, also Latvia works actively to develop container train services.

Within the Baltic region, Latvia is the most experienced country in forming container trains, there are four special container trains being organised already now in Latvia. Our container train network provides regular connections to Russia, Kazakhstan, Central Asia, Belarus, and the ports of the Black Sea in Ukraine.

Latvia offers container shipments along the following routes

  • “Baltika Transit”: from the Baltic States to Kazakhstan and Central Asia;
  • “Riga–Moscow”: from/to stations at the Port of Riga to/from Moscow and the neighbouring stations;
  • “ZUBR”: Estonia–Latvia–Belarus–Ukraine (back and forth), currently the possible freight amounts are being studied that would allow to extend the route through Ukraine to the Black Sea and, in the future, to Turkey;
  • Express train “Riga–Minsk” ensures cargo transportation from/to Riga to/from Minsk.

Number of containers carried by rail transport 2011–2021 (TEU)

Container train “Baltika Transit”

  • In operation since 2003.
  • Offers container train service from/to all the Baltic States to/from Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kirgizstan, Tadzhikistan, Afghanistan).
  • Consolidates and carry freights from all Baltic ports.
  • Quick transit — 12–15 days to clients in Kazakhstan and Central Asia.
  • Tracking of freights.
  • Electronic declaration even before the freight is arrived.
  • Simple customs procedures.
  • Plans to extend the container train route to China in the near future.

Container train “Riga-Moscow”

  • In operation in the route Riga–Moscow since 2010.
  • The approximate transit time from Riga to Moscow — 48 hours.
  • Border crossing without any queues.
  • Customs clearance directly from wagons — 24–36 hours (no need to store the goods).
  • Unloading immediately after the arrival.
  • No weight limits.
  • No downtimes.
  • Delivery to door.

Container train “ZUBR”

  • In operation since 2009.
  • A joint project by the Latvian, Estonian, Belarusian, Ukrainian and Moldavian rail freight carriers.
  • The connection between the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea allows to carry goods from/to the Scandinavian countries to/from Caucasus countries and Turkey.
  • Fixed tariffs.
  • Delivery to door.
  • Customs clearance, processing of documentation, tracking of freights.

​​Freight express train “Riga–Minsk”

  • In operation since 2018
  • The approximate transit time from Riga to Minsk — 20 hours, distance - 658 km.

Test trains

In order to diversify cargo flows and attract new cargoes, a number of container trains have been organized between China and Latvia in recent years, including by combining them with other transport modes and transporting freight in both directions.

In November 2016, the container test train arrived from Yiwu to Riga. The train showed good results, crossing more than 11 000 km in 12 days. In some stages on the way through Russia, the train even passed around 1 200 km a day. After that, a commercial platform of Yiwu “The Yiwu Timex Industrial Investment Co.”, has incorporated Riga into a global commodity movement map.

In May 2017, a container train with 52 containers connected Riga with Kashgar (West of China). The train crossed 7 400 km in 12 days. A few weeks later, a second container train went from Riga to Kashgar. The cargo of both trains came from Duisburg (Germany) by rail and further by sea through the ports of Hamburg and Riga. These test trains showed the potential to deliver freight from Europe to China.

At the end of 2017, a container train on the route Urumqi-Altinkol-Riga-Rotterdam arrived in Riga. Container train with 41 containers of cargo have passed nearly 6 000 km from chinese-kazakh border to the port of Riga in a week. The cargo was further transported by sea transport from Riga to Rotterdam. This train has shown the competitiveness of intermodal transport, when rail and sea transport modes were integrated.

At the end of 2018, the first container train from Xi'an arrived in Riga. The train was sent to Riga just two months after SJSC “Latvian Railway” signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Xi'an International Trade and Logistics Park. This test train was 1000th train heading for Europe from Xi'an, China's largest land port. Then, cargo from Riga was distributed by sea to Hamburg (Germany) and Kuovola (Finland). The train crossed 8 031 km in 11 days.

At the end of 2018, a container train from Wuhan arrived in Riga. After, cargo from Riga was distributed to Estonia and Lithuania by road. The train crossed 8 988 km in 12 days.