Baltic Railroad

Baltic Railroad


an integrated railroad system in the Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian SSR’s and in Kaliningrad Oblast, RSFSR. The system, with 6,230 km of track (1974), is administered from Riga. The first railroads in this region, built more than 100 years ago, were initially intended to link St. Petersburg with Western Europe and central European Russia with Russia’s large seaports on the Baltic Sea—Tallinn, Riga, Liepāja, and Ventspils. In 1873 the Daugavpils-Radviliškis, Jelgava-Mažeikiai, and Naujaji Vilnia-Minsk sections were opened. In the same year a large section of the Landvarovo (now Lentvaris)-Romny line, from Landvarovo station to Bobruisk station, was completed. The opening of these sections marked the beginning of the integration of separate lines into a unified railroad system. During the years when bourgeois dictatorships dominated Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, the historical ties between Russia and the seaports were weakened, with the consequence that the freight turnover was greatly diminished. After the Great Patriotic War (1941-45) all destroyed railroads were not only fully repaired but also reorganized and expanded. The short but densely interlinked railroad lines of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania were integrated in 1963 into a single unified Baltic Railroad. This railroad has seven divisions: Riga, Daugavpils, Jelgava, Estonia, Vilnius, Šiauliai, and Kaliningrad. It has connections with the October Railroad at the Narva, Pechory-Pskovskie, Pytalovo, and Zilupe stations and with the Byelorussian Railroad at the Bigosovo, Pabradė, Gudogai, Stasylos, and Porech’e stations. It also connects with the Polish railroads.

Because of the rapid economic development of the Baltic Soviet republics during the postwar period, the freight turnover of the railroad has increased manyfold. In 1973 it totaled 38.9 billion ton-km, or 1.3 percent of all freight carried by the Soviet rail network. The total passenger turnover was 8.5 billion passenger-km. Such an increase in traffic necessitated a technical upgrading. The railroad’s facilities have been considerably expanded, and many sections of the railroad have been equipped with semiautomatic and automatic block signaling and centralized dispatching; suburban lines have been electrified.

By 1974, 90 percent of the freight was hauled by diesel locomotives. Passenger traffic is handled by diesel and electric locomotives. The narrow-gauge Tallinn-Parnu section has been converted to broad gauge. Electric centralized switching and signaling are being introduced. Traffic capacity has been increased in the major stations of Škirotava, Daugavpils, Tallinn, Tartu, Vilnius, and Kaliningrad. A new classification yard has been built at Paneriai station. In 1973 mechanized-equipment complexes handled approximately 82 percent of all loading and unloading.

The Baltic Railroad is of great importance to the entire USSR, since it serves five major commercial seaports, two oil transshipment bases, and eight fishing ports. These commercial and fishing ports include Kaliningrad, Klaipeda, Liepāja, Ventspils, Pärnu, Riga, Tallinn, Haapsalu, and Paldiski. The Baltic Railroad also serves resorts on the Riga littoral and in Kaliningrad Oblast. Suburban transportation accounts for about one-half of passenger traffic. The railroad was awarded the Order of the October Revolution in 1971.