A TWO-year programme to restructure Latvian Railways was completed on July 4 with a formal registration of three new companies in the national Register of Enterprises.

Started by a government decision on May 10 2005, the process has been led by a steering group chaired by Transport Minister Ainars Šlesers and advised by Ernst & Young Baltic Ltd. It is intended to ensure that the Latvian rail industry meets European Union directives on separation of infrastructure management and open access for competitive train operators.

Now registered as a state-owned joint stock company, LDZ becomes a holding company with overall responsibility for infrastructure management. The three new subsidiaries which began operating independently on July 4 are LDZ Cargo Ltd, responsible for domestic and international freight traffic, logistics and related services, LDZ Infrastruktura Ltd which will undertake track maintenance and renewals, mainly under contract to the infrastructure manager, and LDz Ritoša sastava serviss Ltd which has been established as an independent rolling stock repair and maintenance business, which also provides storage and distribution of fuel on behalf of all train operators and rolling stock owners.

Four other companies had already been established as part of the reform process: national passenger train operator Pasažieru Vilciens, international passenger operator SJC Starptautiskie pasažieru pravadjumi, which is owned 51% by LDZ and 49% by L-Ekspresis Ltd, railway security company Dzelzcela apsardze Ltd and wagon repair business VRC Zasulauks, owned 51% by LDZ and 49% by Rigas Vagonbuves rupnica.