International passenger rail transportation in the Baltic countries before the Second World War

On 30 June 1920, the Supreme Railway Board of Latvia was the first to sign a contract with CIWL to use this company’s carriages in Latvia. On 15 February 1921, the train traffic between Riga and Virbalis was resumed, and on 19 August the route was extended as far as Paris. The new route of the “Nord Express” covered Paris, Berlin, Kaunas and Riga. Such a route was determined by the political situation, and the gauge width. After WW1, trains were running from the West to Riga on the European (standard) gauge lines, so there was no need to change trains in Virbalis. Other alternatives were London in the West (via Oostende in Belgium or Kale in France), and Warsaw in the East.
However, the reality was slightly different. Hardly one carriage reached Paris; and the train did not run daily. The train coupled with carriages of the “Nord Express” and was referred to as the train running on the route Berlin – Riga (D1/D2 in Germany, No. 11/12 in Lithuania, No. 2/1 in Latvia). In 1938 this train was comprised of the following items:
– Lithuanian Railways post wagon running on the Riga – Virbalis route;
– Lithuanian Railways 3rd class carriage running on the Riga – Virbalis route;
– CIWL dining carriage running on the Riga – Virbalis route;
– German Railways baggage wagon running on the Riga – Berlin route;
– German Railways 1st or 2nd class carriages running on the Riga – Berlin route;
– German Railways 3rd class carriage running on the Riga – Berlin route;
– CIWL sleeping carriage running on the Riga – Paris route.
In 1938 it took 14 hours and 43 minutes to get from Berlin to Riga by train. The average train speed (including stops in the stations and frontier posts) was 77 km/hr. In Germany the train achieved a speed of 80.4 km/hr, in Lithuania up to 82 km/hr and in Latvia 77 km/hr.
In addition, there was another train running daily from Berlin to Riga; it was comprised of carriages owned by CIWL, and Lithuanian and Latvian Railways. In addition, CIWL carriages (as well as carriages of Estonian, Latvian and German Railways) were used on other routes such as Tallinn – Riga, Tallinn – Zemgale (with a change for Warsaw), Berlin – Daugavpils (with a change for Moscow). More in BRM9.