The Director of the Secretariat of the Northern Dimension Partnership for Transport and Logistics, Mr Odgeir Danielsen, paid a three-day visit to Lithuania. To carry out the duties assigned within the operational framework and to ensure development of the Northern Dimension Partnership for Transport and Logistics, the director plans to visit other member countries of the partnership and discuss various matters of mutual interest in the near future.
The purpose of the visit was to get acquainted with the national transport strategy and acquire information about the border crossing procedures with the neighbouring countries and at the Klaipeda port.
During the visit he met with Mr Arunas Staras, Vice Minister of Transport, and Egidijus Meilunas, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Officials from the Lithuanian Ministry of Transport and Communications presented the development of the national transport system and the growth of international collaboration in the transport field. As Lithuania is a country located at the crossroads of the international East-West and North-South freight corridors it benefits from both: transit and transportation flows of exports and imports.
The East-West corridor connects the North European countries with Russia, Kazakhstan and China. Recently the Saule train was launched following the ASEM transport ministers agreement to develop Asia-Europe transport corridors.
The Viking shuttle train provides a convenient transport link between the Baltic and the Black sea regions. Procedures for inspecting trains at the external border with Belarus are well managed. Cargo information exchange, for example, lasts just half an hour. However, there is only regular traffic between Klaipeda (LT) and Minsk (BY), therefore enhancing the effectiveness of the Viking shuttle train, extending it to Odessa Ukraine, is high on the agenda.
One of the priorities for the Lithuanian government is the implementation of the Rail Baltic project and the construction works of the European gauge (1435) on the section Mockava-Sestokai section have already been initiated. In connection with the project it is planned to build intermodal logistics centres in Kaunas and Vilnius.
The port of Klaipeda is an ice-free, deep-water port in a convenient location, meaning it also plays a significant role in Lithuania’s economy. With a well-developed transport infrastructure and innovative information system (KIPIS), the port provides companies with all port-related services. This year has been a record year for Klaipeda, with the annual cargo turnover reaching 38 million tonnes. As Klaipeda port is reaching its maximum capacity there are plans to expand the port territory by constructing an outer port in Butinge. The feasibility and environmental impact assessment studies have already been carried out. The detailed design and technical projects are scheduled for 2013-2014.
The most pressing problems are at the external EU borders, where significant international traffic flows means live queuing at the border crossing stations can last for hours.
For that reason, Lithuanian authorities are looking to its neighbour’s experience and planning to implement an e-queuing system, which should facilitate border crossing procedures. Along with this development, there are plans to upgrade the border crossing infrastructure in order to meet market demand.