Baltic loop discusses mobility challenges at co-creation seminar in Riga

Baltic loop discusses mobility challenges at co-creation seminar in Riga

Within the framework of the international project “Baltic Loop” or “Baltic Transport Circle”, an online co-creation seminar was held on local level mobility in the Riga metropolitan area and connectivity with the southern transport corridor Ventspils – Riga – Valka.

The aim of the seminar was to discuss the current situation and possible solutions for passenger and freight traffic in the corridor, including the Riga metropolitan area, taking into account the need for connectivity between major development centers (in areas along the corridor) and international multimodal mobility points (Riga port, Riga central railway station, Riga International Airport).

Experts agreed that the backbone of regional mobility for both passenger and freight transport should be rail. In passenger transport, one of the challenges right now is how to create efficient mobility points by transferring from one transport to another. For example, in many places of passenger transport, stations are located far from the administrative center, so it is necessary to create an attractive public transport network that complements each other and ensures a convenient and fast flow of passengers. The integrated public transport ticket is an issue that is on the agenda of various planners in order to reduce the flow of private transport in the center of Riga, but at the same time promote the mobility of the population.

Speaking about the circle of the southern transport corridor Ventspils – Riga – Valka seminar experts have pointed out the need to use the railway infrastructure to Ventspils, resuming passenger traffic. It could possibly be further developed for tourism, offering additional trips by sea.

Regarding the flow of passengers around Riga, the experts pointed out the need to consider better accessibility of the airport in terms of public transport with the center of Riga and further to other settlements in Latvia. At present, this is time-consuming and insufficiently addressed. The Freeport of Riga also has poor connections with the railway and the airport. To get from the port to the airport, you have to drive through the center of Riga.

The participants of the co-creation also emphasized the intention of the Rail Baltica project, which is important in the Baltics, to establish 16 regional stations, which means that local governments must be ready to provide adequate infrastructure for mobility.

With regard to freight transport, the seminar participants emphasized a number of areas to be addressed. One of them is to think around Riga about the establishment of new significant logistics centers, which would also promote business and ease the workload of the center of Riga from the flow of trucks. A good example is the logistics center in Salaspils.

There is no easy solution to the question of how to promote the shift of freight from land to rail, which is more environmentally friendly in terms of harmful emissions. One of the contributing factors was the planned electrification of the railway, which was not in the planned direction Riga – Ventspils.

Industry agrees on 3 strategic goals for the development of the Via Hanseatica tourism and transport corridor by 2030

Industry agrees on 3 strategic goals for the development of the Via Hanseatica tourism and transport corridor by 2030

On January 7, 2021, Vidzeme Planning Region organized a stakeholder meeting to continue the discussion on the vision of the development of the tourism and transport corridor on the Via Hansetica route until 2030. Representatives of the tourism and transport sectors agreed on three strategic development goals for the Via Hanseatica tourism corridor: 1) to improve the speed and efficiency of traffic flow; 2) to develop tourism and mobility information systems; 3) to increase the flow of tourists in the Via Hanseatica tourist corridor.
Last December, invited participants met online to discuss a summary of the current situation and to provide ideas for refining and complementing the strategy’s objectives and actions. At the beginning of 2021, industry representatives were gathered to comment on the strategic part of the document.

The strategic part of the draft document formulates the long-term development vision of the tourist route Via Hanseatica for the improvement of passenger flow, strategic goals and development priorities. In addition, directions for action and long-term actions to achieve the strategic goals are outlined.

Given that the quality of the traffic system is crucial for the economic development of the area, the participants of the meeting agreed that the area needs traffic improvements in order to be able to compete at the national and international level. Significant changes can be made by improving both the transport infrastructure and the quality of public transport services, including a strong focus on convenient connections. It is important to be able to use different modes of transport, i.e. for the first and last mile, balancing the offer and possibilities of traditional and relatively new mobility solutions in the area of influence of the Via Hanseatica.

It should be noted that the necessary improvements are important for both visitors and residents of the territory – therefore an integrated approach has been used in defining goals and actions, ensuring high quality of services for both interconnected user groups in the long run.

We remind you that the aim of developing the strategic document is to find out the necessary improvements of transport infrastructure, services and information to ensure more convenient and efficient flow of passengers (mainly tourists) on the Via Hanseatica tourist route, promoting tourism development in Vidzeme planning region.

The vision for the development of the Via Hanseatica tourism route has been developed on the basis of an analysis of the current situation, in which transport industry experts, tourism industry experts and entrepreneurs, representatives of Via Hanseatica municipalities, as well as passenger carriers were interviewed. Passenger and tourist flows were also analyzed, the condition of infrastructure and the quality of services were assessed.

The document, which soon will be completed, will serve as guidelines for the development of the specific territory, and it will be used in their work by municipal specialists, for example, when working with territorial development planning documents, and entrepreneurs planning new services in the territory of Via Hanseatica.

We invite you to read the fifth Baltic Loop Newsletter

We invite you to read the fifth Baltic Loop Newsletter

It’s time to stop and see how much work has been done! We invite you to get acquainted with the fifth news page of the project! Continuing to work closely with stakeholders, we have compiled a number of key challenges as well as recommendations on how to address them. Project experts and specialists have an excellent amount of rich information to arrive at a qualitative and feasible result.







How to solve problems that hinder the full organization of traffic flow? Summary of 17 interviews conducted in Latvia

How to solve problems that hinder the full organization of traffic flow? Summary of 17 interviews conducted in Latvia

In order to fully understand the situation, in-depth interviews with stakeholders in the development of the tourism and transport corridor were conducted during the study on the development of the Tourism and Transport Corridor Development Vision 2030 on the Via Hanseatica, which is a section of the Baltic Loop Southern Transport Corridor.

Within the framework of the study, the authors conducted in-depth interviews with four types of stakeholders: transport industry experts, tourism industry experts and entrepreneurs, representatives of Vidzeme planning region municipalities and passenger public transport companies (road and rail transport).

The purpose of the in-depth interviews was to find out the answers to the following questions:

a) The main restrictions (technical, administrative, legal, economic, etc.) on the efficient flow of passengers on the VIA Hanseatica route.

b) Necessary improvements for better and more efficient transport infrastructure and services on the VIA Hanseatica tourist route, including mitigation of negative impacts on the environment and climate change.

c) Possible future challenges and risks for the development of transport flow (including tourist flow) on the tourist route VIA Hanseatica and in the main transport flow corridors of the Vidzeme planning region (roads A2, A3 and railway).

Within the framework of the research, 27 participants were invited to interviews, and finally 17 interviews took place – 15 of them on the Zoom platform online, one – by phone, one – by e-mail.

The talks provided valuable observations and conclusions, often including suggestions on how to solve problems that hinder the proper organization of traffic flow, such as:

Prioritizing of investments is a challenge. What are the priorities in post-Covid-19 period? Should we invest more in freight? In public transport? And if yes in what kind of public transport? For tourism or transport corridors the question is similar – do we invest in better roads or in better railways? In case of VIA Hanseatica it is not part of any cornet web or corridor, it will be very difficult to convince that investment in this corridor is of high importance for national decision makers. Making new corridors or connecting to the existing corridors?

Wiktor Szydarowski, PhD, ESPON EGTC, Director, transport policy expert

The Polish experience has shown that building faster roads and thinking less about exits has broken down areas that affect local people, businesses – the faster the connections, the more advantageous the larger centers and the less advantageous the places in the middle.

Liene Gaujeniete, Spatial Planning Expert, VASAB (Visions & strategies around the Baltic sea)

High costs and relatively low potential economic benefits are the main limitations for infrastructure development, however, it is very important to raise Latvia’s position in cycling tourism.

Elmārs Daniševskis, engineer and traffic infrastructure planner, member of the Latvian Association of Transport Engineers.

It is difficult to get to atypical tourist destinations – public transport goes once a day or less, so other solutions must be sought. In addition, there is no centralized way to buy a ticket for both a bus or a train. The main risks and challenges are related to the increasing congestion of roads and their condition, and train wagons are also old.

Mārtiņš Malcenieks, Deputy of Cēsis County Council, Active tourism centre Eži Ltd.

At present, tourists who have come to Latvia often have to evaluate the information, not with which it would be more convenient to get to the destination, but how and whether it is possible to get there by public transport. There is no flexible system to change routes quickly. I consider the decision-making process to be very long, and the route network is managed centrally from Riga.

Ivo Ošenieks, President of the Latvian Passenger Carriers Association

Public transport runs on specific roads and at specific times – it aims to meet the needs of the population, so the needs of tourists are secondary and adaptable. The A2 and A3 roads are in good condition, but the number of users is growing, they are congested, and congestion is occurring in particularly good weather conditions, which means that there is insufficient road capacity. Paved roads need to be improved; asphalt roads need more capacity. There are bureaucratic constraints on flexible route planning. Multimodal connections and transfer points are needed – improvements are needed to run fewer buses with more passengers than half-empty buses.

Lotārs Dravants, Head of Passenger Transport Service in CATA Corp.


Interviews with representatives of various fields revealed such aspects as the lack of information about the competencies, plans and possibilities of other sectors to change the existing procedures.

The opinions of the interviewees will be invaluable in the development of the strategic part of the document and the action plan – the experts expressed ideas about the vision and functioning of the VIA Hanseatica tourism route in perspective.

The main risk in the use of the country’s regional and local roads is their current condition and planned improvement measures. For the most part, interviewees agreed that the country’s main roads, A2 and A3, were in good condition, but expressed concerns about their capacity for fast movement and safety aspects due to high traffic volumes.

The interviewees agreed on the need to improve digital information systems – the possibilities of route planning by public transport, bicycles are currently limited. The opinion on the establishment of a unified public transport ticket purchase system has been expressed several times.

Interviewees agreed on the potential for rail use and the current state of inadequate infrastructure, in particular trains.

Most of the interviewees believe that foreign tourists would like to use public transport services, especially railways, but there is a need to significantly improve the availability (schedule) and quality of services (shorter travel time and better service).

Experts expressed the need to promote the use of public transport services in the largest centers of the tourist region.

Project contribution – 51 ideas for transport development in Latvia

Project contribution – 51 ideas for transport development in Latvia

As part of the project, the Riga Planning Region organized a series of seminars-workshops “Cooperation Dialogues in the Transport Sector” with the aim of improving cooperation between different parties in the region to achieve better end results and find solutions to reduce travel time in the corridor. 

The final online meeting on 9 December discussed the results, which will allow the report to be finalized. 

The first meeting “Cooperation Dialogues in the Transport Sector” took place on September 22, 2020 in Riga. It was attended by 22 people. During the face-to-face session, the participants of the event analyzed the strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats. 

The second meeting “Cooperation Dialogues in the Transport Sector: Ideas and Solutions” took place on October 20, 2020, in Riga. During the face-to-face seminar-workshop, 21 participants created and discussed ideas and solutions for weaknesses, opportunities and threats. 



  • 18 weak sides
  • 7 threats
  • 5 options
  • 51 ideas and solutions


“In the field of transport, we cannot ignore the trends of recent years. Mobility issues are affected by structural changes and changes in accessibility of citizens. This needs to be taken into account and much closer cooperation chould be developed in transport planning.” – Rūdolfs Cimdiņš, Head of Riga Planning Region administration

Baltic Loop publishes a paper in Network Industries Quarterly

Baltic Loop publishes a paper in Network Industries Quarterly

Network Industries Quarterly has been published four times a year since 2008. One of its special issues focuses on digitalising infrastructure. This special issue includes also the paper written by the representatives of Åbo Akademi University (Finland). Åbo Akademi University is a partner of project Baltic Loop and leads working package ‘Business models for smart and sustainable sea’.

Tsvetkova, Gustafsson and Wikström identify how digitalisation is transforming the infrastructure of ports and how, as a result, port managers are under growing pressure to provide prompt service.

A little insight into the article:

Highly fragmented industries characterized by extreme information asymmetries are the first to be affected by the ‘platform revolution’ (Sarkar 2016). In that respect, sea logistics is a sector in need of improved efficiency (Gustafsson et al.2015). The digital transformation, coupled with a transition to platform economy, have the potential to facilitate just such a change. One of the main effects of digital platforms in this transformation is the shift towards multi-sided markets and the facilitation of network effects. (..)

The increasing volumes of data generated regarding maritime transport creates opportunities for the appearance and growth of new business models and the ‘port as a service’ types of platforms. Incumbent actors such as the port authorities have a choice to either proactively use the enabling technologies to reinvent their own business models or they risk having their value proposition commoditized in the fourth industrial revolution. In this paper, we review the recent digital developments related to ports and discuss their effects on the transformation of sea logistics and, in particular, on port operations.

>> This article is funded by the project Baltic Loop.

Read the Full Article >> Here (p.7-p.10)