The new terminal will be located in the southern part of Eksportosta, which will reduce the traffic in the centre of Riga, caused by the operation of the ferry line in the centre of Riga, while also reducing sound and air pollution. The local plan for the southern part of Eksportosta also includes the development of the area surrounding the terminal, including improvements to public transport connectivity and landscaping of the neighbourhood. A new passenger terminal will not only put Riga on the map of European cruise ports, but will also provide a modern and environmentally friendly ferry passenger service in Riga and create new opportunities for the development of the ro-ro cargo segment.
Since 2018, work has been underway to develop a new passenger and ro-ro cargo terminal in Riga - Riga Ropax Terminal. In late June, the Riga City Council approved a local plan for the southern part of Eksportosta, which includes the design of the new terminal, and as a result, the project is being actively pursued. Work is currently underway to organise an architectural competition and attract investment. If the project progresses successfully, it is expected that the construction of Riga Ropax Terminal will be completed by the end of 2027.
In all development phases, work on attracting investors continues. In the current geopolitical situation, our region's ports and terminals face many challenges, but also untapped opportunities. There is interest in Riga and a modern passenger, cruise and ro-ro cargo terminal, which was observed at the Seatrade Cruise Global in Miami, the largest cruise industry forum in the United States, and at the MIPIM International Real Estate and Investment Forum in Cannes, France. The development of the Rail Baltica project also creates the need for a modern passenger terminal, which would become one of the three nodes of Riga's mobility pillar, reinforcing land, air and water transport.
Julija Berzina (Jūlija Bērziņa), Project Manager of Riga Ropax Terminal, says: "We are now actively working to have a new passenger and ro-ro cargo terminal in Riga in the near future. In June, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Riga Freeport Authority, the City of Stockholm and the Port of Stockholm to strengthen cooperation. The aim is to create a sustainable basis for the future renewal of an important maritime transport route between neighbouring countries and to ensure climate neutrality. With the approval of the Local Plan, we have finally entered the next phase of the project development - the organisation of the architectural competition together with the Latvian Union of Architects, where we will be actively working over the next months to develop the regulations, engage the jury and announce the competition publicly.
This year, Riga Ropax Terminal, in cooperation with the Riga Freeport Authority as the project lead partner, the Port of Stockholm, the Port of Klaipeda, the City of Stockholm and the Vismar University of Applied Sciences, Technology, Business and Design, submitted an application to the Interreg Baltic Sea Region Transnational Cooperation Programme to receive funding for a study on reducing the ecological footprint of passenger and Ro-Ro terminals in the city centre of three ports - Riga, Klaipeda and Stockholm. This was only the first of several planned joint applications under the planned cooperation.
A Letter of Intent was signed between the Freeport of Riga Authority and the developer of the passenger and Ro-Ro terminal when work started on the new terminal project idea. In 2022, a project implementation working group was established under the chairmanship of the Chairman of the Freeport of Riga Board, with the participation of representatives of the City of Riga, the Ministry of Economy and Transport, the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development, Riga International Airport and other. The working group was set up with the aim of creating a final concept for the Riga Ropax Terminal project that would satisfy all the parties involved and complement the Riga City development concept in the best possible way.
The developers of Riga Ropax Terminal, together with Deloitte Latvia, carried out a market study at the end of 2021, analysing the future potential of the project. Compared to the number of passengers already handled, it is forecasted that the successful implementation of the project would result in an 8% increase in passengers, while the Ro-Ro cargo segment would grow by up to 10%. The most important conclusion of the study is that the construction of such a terminal will significantly enhance the competitiveness of the Port of Riga in the Baltic Sea basin. The project developer estimates that Riga could welcome up to 150 cruise ships and 540 vessels per year in the passenger and cargo segments with a new passenger terminal. In total, the new terminal could welcome around 800 000 passengers in its first year of operation.
The new Riga Ropax Terminal, planned for the southern part of Eksportosta, will efficiently serve Riga's passengers at one of the city's three transport hubs, while providing high-quality, modern, public commercial and entertainment facilities. One of the objectives of Riga Ropax Terminal will be to become a home port for cruise ships.
The terminal will include additional infrastructure for cruise ship servicing, with the prospect of a cruise line home port, with restaurants and cafes available to the residents of the neighbourhood, with sound and air pollution reduced in the city centre and safe movement ensured. Future estimates show that the new terminal could accommodate up to 150 cruise ships and 540 vessels per year in the passenger and cargo segments - 360 ferry ships and 180 ro-ro ships. In total, the new terminal could accommodate around 800 000 passengers in its first year of operation.