Lithuania’s busiest railway line electrification reaches halfway milestone
Lithuania is catching up with electrifying its railway tracks. The electrification of the Vilnius-Klaipėda railway in Lithuania is halfway finished, LTG Infra announced this week.
Vilnius-Klaipėda is the most intensively used railway section in the country, and especially important for freight. Last year, it transported about 40 percent of freight transported by rail and 16 percent of passengers. Lithuanian Minister of Transport Marius Skuodis visited the site for the milestone, saying it is a “strategically important project for the state”. “The electrification of the most intensively used railway section in the country will ensure greener trips with purchased electric trains adapted for all passengers. Electrification of railways is a high priority both in Lithuania and throughout the European Union”.
Indeed, Lithuania is making strides in rail electrification. Currently, only 8 percent of the entire national network is electrified, namely the three fully electrified railway sections Vilnius-Kaunas, Vilnius-Trakai and Vilnius-Kena. After the completion of the electrification of Vilnius-Klaipėda, the length of electrified railways in the country will increase to almost 27 percent.
Even with this, Lithuania will however still be among the least electrified railway networks among European countries. Other Baltic countries Latvia (13,5 percent) and Estonia (19.3 percent) are also on the low end of the list, with only Ireland (2,6 percent) having a lower electrification rate, according to 2021 Eurostat data. Overall, 60 per cent of the European main railway lines are electrified in 2021, which carry 80 percent of rail traffic.
Electric and battery train order already made
The electrification works naturally include construction of the catenary network, and in addition the project includes the construction of six traction substations, their connection to the Litgrid electricity supply networks and testing, as well as the construction of eight autotransformers that ensure the stability of the electric voltage in the catenary network.
LTG General Director Egidijus Lazauskas: “As the electrification of the main Lithuanian railway artery Vilnius-Klaipėda approaches the half-way point of the entire project, we also purchase modern electric and electric battery trains, ensuring a new travel culture and experience”. State operator LTG Link ordered 9 electric trains for intercity services at Swiss manufacturer Stadler, as well as 6 battery-electric trains able to also operate on the non-electrified parts of the network. “Also, for the first time in the group’s history, we plan to purchase electric locomotives to transport cargo”, says Lazauskas. “In this way, we move step by step towards a clean transport future.”