RIGA, Nov. 5 (Xinhua) -- Latvia's outgoing government on Monday earmarked 259 million euros (296 million U.S. dollars) in the Baltic country's budget for the purchase of new electric passenger trains, the Transport Ministry informed.
The funding will be released to Latvia's Pasazieru Vilciems rail passenger carrier, which will be able to spend it until 2024 on the purchase and maintenance of new passenger trains and their parts as well as construction of new railway depots.
Latvian Transport Minister Uldis Augulis called this a significant decision meaning that new passenger trains might start running in Latvia in the next couple of years.
In June 2017, the Latvian government gave the green light to a passenger train procurement even though it was clear that the purchase will widen the budget deficit in following years.
However, some of the passenger trains currently in use in Latvia are up to 50 years old and obsolete. Pasazieru Vilciens CEO Andris Lubans said that they have to be replaced with new rolling stock in order to ensure passenger transportation by rail also in the future.
Pasazieru Vilciens is currently holding a tender to buy 32 new passenger trains. Four bidders competing for the right to supply the trains include Spain's Talgo, the Polish subsidiary of Switzerland's Stadler, Spain's Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarilles S.A. (CAF) and the Czech company Skoda Vagonka a.s. (1 euro = 1.14 U.S. dollars)