Minister of Transport and Communications Rimantas Sinkevičius said that the state-managed Lithuanian Railways company will be restructured according to the European Commission‘s requirements. In this way, the company will avoid paying several tens of millions of Euros in fines for demolishing a stretch of track leading to Latvia.
After a meeting with President Dalia Grybauskaitė on Wednesday, Sinkevičius said that a proposal will be submitted to the European Commission for the restructuring of the company according to the EU’s fourth railway package, which calls for the separation of functions.
“The most logical solution is to follow the legal norms and laws that have been passed by the European Union. I mean the fourth railway package that was confirmed in the European Parliament and according to which we will try to make the actions of Lithuanian Railways more transparent,” said Sinkevičius.
Grybauskaitė said she had wanted the government to come to a decision regarding Lithuanian Railways as soon as possible and hoped that the decision would be made before June 3rd, when the prime minister and the chairman of the European Commission are to meet.
“The Commission has required the Lithuanian government to come to a decision regarding Lithuanian Railways within a month… Without an action plan submitted, the Commission may decide to rebuild the stretch of track and demand a fine of up to €43 million from Lithuania,” said Grybauskaitė’s advisor, Lina Antanavičienė. She also added that Orlen Lietuva, Latvian railways and others could seek compensation for their costs.
Antanavičienė said that Lithuanian Railways’ behaviour made the company seem like a state within a state, but Sinkevičius said that he saw no personal responsibility of his own in the situation.
“I wouldn’t agree with the statement, ‘why didn’t we do anything.’ First of all, I see responsibility for whomever the case is against, so for the company. It doesn’t matter that its shareholder is the state. Second, to say that we didn’t do anything wouldn’t be quite right. If we hadn’t done anything, the case would not have dragged on for six years. We offered various solutions, including the reconstruction of the tracks and the modernisation of the alternative route,” said Sinkevičius.
Sinkevičius said he is to discuss potential solutions to the situation with Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius on Friday.