In Brief

Dragoman-Dimitrovgrad railway line will be in operation in 2006

At the end of September during his first visit abroad – in Serbia and Montenegro – the Minister of Transport, Petar Mutafchiev, undertook the commitment for the commissioning of the Bulgarian section of the electrified railway line Dragoman-Dimitrovgrad (Serbia) in the beginning of 2006. Minister Mutafchiev met his Serbian counterpart, Velimir Ilic, in Belgrade and subsequently evaluated their discussions as extremely fruitful and successful. Their discussion was dedicated to prospects before the Pan-European transport corridor X, as well as the possible establishment of a joint working group of Deputy Ministers the task of which would be the elimination of unjustified stopping times at the border crossing points between the two countries. The common border station between Serbia and Bulgaria will start operations in the beginning of 2006.


Petar Mutafchiev took part in the Council of transport ministers

On 6th October, Minister Mutafchiev participated in the meeting of the Council of transport ministers of EU member countries and associated countries, held in Luxembourg. This is the first participation by a Bulgarian minister at such a meeting. Minister Mutafchiev informed his colleagues that Bulgaria has introduced and implemented the requirements of the European Commission in the sphere of transport legislation. In Luxembourg, Mutafchiev held working meetings with the Federal Minister of Transport, Building and Housing, Manfred Stolpe; the Belgian Minister of Mobility, Renaat Landuyt, the Greek Minister of Transport, Mihalis Liapis, as well as with the Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Transport, Jacques Barrot.

Meanwhile, it became clear that the EU railway carriers will probably perform services in Bulgaria before our national carrier would be able to perform services in Europe. After the EU accession of our country, international services will be liberalised first and subsequently domestic ones. According to Minister Mutafchiev, Bulgaria asked for a time extension because BDZ is still not competitive with foreign operators. On the other hand, private Bulgarian companies, which are willing to perform domestic services, competitive with BDZ, insist on receiving access to the European market in 2007 at the latest.


A Czech company will build a railway works in our country

The Czech company AZD will build works for integrated railway transport systems in Sofia. The announcement was made by the Czech Republic Ambassador in Bulgaria, Petr Dokladl, during a meeting between companies from the Varna region and from South Moravia. AZD, which is based in Prague, is among the leading providers of signalling and telecommunications equipment and automatics for road and rail transport. In its Bulgarian branch, AZD will produce semaphores, switching equipment, diagnostics systems, signalling devices etc. In addition to its facilities in Prague, the company has facilities in Brno, Kolin and Olomouc in the Czech Republic and sister companies in Slovakia, Serbia and Kazakhstan.

This is the second large Czech investment in the railway sector of Bulgaria after the May opening of a concrete-sleeper works in the village of Ezerovo near Varna. Over EUR3 million were invested in this facility by the Czech company ‘Industrial construction for railways’ (ZPSV). It is expected that 120,000 sleepers for high-speed rail (up to 200 km/h) will be produced per year.

Railway link between Varna Airport and the nearby resorts?

The Executive Director of Varna Airport, Yanko Yankov, has announced the concept for the construction of an urban railway to link the airport with seaside resorts located to the North of Varna. According to him, transport services to and from Varna airport are carried out by 45,000 buses per year, carrying 1.5 million passengers. Most of these buses go via the downtown zone and create additional traffic congestion.

Underlining the fact that all major airports worldwide are linked by rail with the relevant cities, Yankov stated that one passenger coach of the future urban railway could transport the passengers from three Il-86 planes, while currently these passengers are carried by 24 buses. Moreover, the journey time by train from the airport to the Golden Sands, for example, will be only 30 minutes against the current journey time of about one hour and a half by bus. The construction of the urban railway will take about two years.

Bulgarian and Turkish railways will develop Ro-La transport

The Boards of Directors of BDZ EAD and of the Turkish railways (TCDD met on 29th-30th September. The main topic for discussion was the development of combined Ro-La transport from Turkey and Bulgaria to Austria. Both parties confirmed their readiness to work jointly for the development of this type of transport, which is well established in Europe due to its environmental and economic advantages. For the first time in 30 years, members of the Board of Directors of TCDD have visited Bulgaria. The managers of both railway companies expressed the belief that the tendency for growth in passenger and freight traffic volumes between the Republic of Bulgaria and the Republic of Turkey should be further developed. The meeting was also attended by representatives of the Turkish road carriers, who confirmed their interest in being partners to the implementation of combined Ro-La transport.

BDZ loses BGN45,000 from vandal attacks

Up to now, the losses of BDZ EAD, incurred by the throwing of stones at trains, amount to BGN45,000. As a result of such attacks, 82 window panes of passenger coaches and 10 window panes of locomotives were broken. One of these attacks caused the cracking of the front window of the new diesel trainset Desiro and the damages amount to BGN26,000. The last two attacks on the new trainsets were at the end of September. The offenders, who are underage, have been caught.

The Transport Ministers of Bulgaria and Turkey meet

On 14th October, the Bulgarian Minister of Transport, Petar Mutafchiev, paid a one-day visit to Turkey and met his Turkish counterpart, Binali Yildirim. The two ministers discussed the establishment of a common border station, Kapikule, as well as a possible date for the signing of the Agreement on the railway border crossing Svilengrad-Kapikule. This Agreement will most probably be signed by the end of November. Among the other topics discussed was the liberalisation of road services between Bulgaria and Turkey. As a sign of good will, Minister Yildirim announced that Turkey will grant an additional quota of permits for Bulgarian road carriers. Before these additional permits are provided, the border procedures for Bulgarian road carriers will be alleviated

Similar talks will be held with Greece, as well as on topics such as enhancement of border police and customs controls and the implementation of the project for a fast train between Sofia and Thessaloniki and of the related project for the construction and electrification of the railway line between Vidin and Kulata.

The European Commission approves the short list for Danube bridge 2

The European Commission has approved the short list of bidders for the design and construction of the second bridge over the Danube. Six companies and consortiums are short-listed – Bulfinger Berger AG and N.V.Besix S.A.; Bouygues Travaux Publics, Transstroi Varna and Rizzani De Eccher; Ed.Zublin AG, Alpine Mayreder Bau GmbH and Eiffel Construction Métallique; FCC Construccion S.A.; Hochtief Construction A.G. and Obrascon Huarte Lain S.A.; Vinci C.G.P, Glavbolgarstroi and Moststroi. The assignment includes the design and construction of the bridge (both road and rail) with four road lanes and one railway track, as well as the construction of the access road and rail infrastructure (including a new railway station, seven kilometres of new railway line, reconstruction of Vidin railway station and the construction of four road junctions on two levels). The overall project price is EUR236 million. The technical design for the access road and rail infrastructure has been completed. It is expected that the bidding for the selection of construction supervisor will get launched by mid-November and the contract for the supervision of the bridge should be concluded by mid-2006. It is planned that the contracts for construction and supervision of the access road and rail infrastructure would be concluded no earlier than end-2006. This infrastructure will be constructed in the course of two years and will be completed in parallel with the completion of the bridge in 2009.

Bulmarket are licensed for a national carrier

On 21st October, the Minister of Transport, Petar Mutafchiev, handed to Bulmarket – DM Ltd. a permanent licence for freight railway services on a national scale. Last May, this company, which is one of the main fuel distributors in our country, received a licence for freight railway services along the section Ruse North-Ruse Marshalling yard. This railway freight carrier pays BGN3 million per year to NRIC for infrastructure charges. According to Stank Stankov, one of the Governors of Bulmarket, the company will try to attract some of BDZ’s customers by offering more flexible tariffs. Presently, Bulmarket has its own 14-kilometre-long railway network, three locomotives and 316 wagons, as well as a private harbour in Ruse. In the next three years, the company is planning to lease 20 locomotives.

It is a well-known fact that Bulgaria has undertaken the commitment for a gradual liberalisation of railway services by 2010, when foreign carriers will be able to operate on its territory, while BDZ and the licensed private operators will be able to perform passenger and freight services in the EU after being granted European licences.

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