Rail freight shipping in Latvia at 17-year low in 2019

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RIGA, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- Rail freight shipping in Latvia hit a 17-year low in 2019 with only 41.5 million tons transported during the year, Andris Lubans, a board member of the national rail company Latvijas Dzelzcels (Latvian Railways), said Tuesday on public service radio.

Freight volume continued to drop throughout last year, leading to the record low annual result, Lubans said, noting that "negative uncertainty" is currently prevailing in the rail freight segment.

The rail company is therefore not setting particular freight turnover targets at this stage but is determined to do everything to adapt to the decline in freight volume.

This adaptation will include a revision of the rail company's business strategy and some restructuring of the whole group, the representative said.

Latvian Railways does not expect the drop in rail freight to end in a year or two, so adjustments are needed to keep railway operations going, Lubans said.

In 2018, shipping of rail freight increased to 49.26 million tons from 43.8 million tons in 2017.

Last week, Latvian Railways announced a plan to lay off around 1,500 of the company's more than 6,000 employees by the end of this year.

Lubans said that salaries made up 66 percent of the rail company's total expenses, which means that layoffs are inevitable if the company is to steady its budget. Enditem

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