The State Railway Administration has been established in accordance with the requirements of Section 30 of the Railway Law and has commenced its activities on 1 July 1999. The State Railway Administration is a state administrative authority which is under the supervision of the Ministry of Transport. The State Railway Administration shall be chaired by a director, who shall be appointed by the Cabinet of Ministers on a proposal from the Minister for Transport.

The Authority was set up with the main objective of carrying out the public administration functions of the sector. According to the requirements of EU directives, the state had to take liberalisation measures: ensuring free access to railway infrastructure for all carriers meeting national requirements, where only one monopoly railway company operates.

Together with the regulatory functions (issuing licences, setting up infrastructure charges, examining disputes, promoting competition), the institution was entrusted with a whole line of functions of the State Administration which are not related to the regulation of the sector, but which could not be continued by the former monopoly company SJSC “Latvijas dzelzcels”. Such functions should include the national registration of railway infrastructure and railway rolling stock, the harmonisation, registration and enforcement control of railway contract projects, the development of a sectoral environmental policy and action programme, the analysis of the risks posed by the infrastructure and the taking of measures to reduce it. Most of these functions are unrelated to each other and therefore have different strategic objectives and objectives.

From 1 January 2010, the State Railway Administration shall be financed from the funds intended for financing the railway infrastructure.

On 25 February 2016, amendments are adopted to the Railway Law, which defines the State Railway Administration as a single regulatory authority in the railway sector and gives it wider powers. With separate decisions of the Cabinet of Ministers, the performance of certain other functions is also entrusted to the State Railway Administration. The size of the institution's work has increased significantly every year, ensuring active participation in the European Commission's work institutions.