110 years of Bulgarian railway magazine

Todor KONDAKOV, M. En. Sc. Editor-in-Chief of “Railway Transport” magazine

In January 1896, the first issue of the so-called “Railway Collection”, “a monthly publication of the Ministry of Public Buildings, Roads and Communications” was printed. In the railway press in European and even on a worldwide scale, there are very few publications which have lasted for more than a century and which continue to delight their reading audience till the present moment. In Bulgaria, our magazine undoubtedly is the oldest one among the specialised scientific and technical publications and continues to be the unique forum for the boundless sphere of the railways.

We can define, though somewhat provisionally, four major periods in its 110-year history: 1896-1914 (from its establishment until the First World War, when its publishing was temporarily cancelled); 1926-1944 (from the moment when publishing was re-established after the two Bulgarian national catastrophes, till the moment publishing ceased for a second time at the height of the Second World War); 1948-1991 (from the moment when publishing was re-established up to the beginning of railway reforms related to the transition from a centrally-planned to market economy); and from 1991 till now – again a period of reforms, both of the national economy and of Bulgarian railways in particular.

During the first period, the magazine was titled “Railway Collection”. It included two main sections: an official one, which consisted of laws, rules and regulations concerning the railways; and an unofficial section, which consisted of news about developments in the sphere of railways, both in our country and abroad.

The publishing of the Bulgarian railway magazine was re-established in 1926 and this time it came out under the title “Magazine of the state railways and ports”.

In 1948, the magazine was re-established again under the title “Transport Affairs” as a publication of the Ministry of Railway, Road and Water Communications. Its editors-in-chief at that period were Tenio the Kazakh, Asen Slavchev and Angel Kisimov, M.Eng.Sc. In 1953, the magazine was headed by Metodi Peichev who was its editor-in-chief until 1979 – for no less than 26 years.

In 1962, the magazine acquired its present heading “Railway Transport”. At that moment, the Bulgarian railways underwent a large-scale technical reconstruction concerning the replacement of outdated steam, diesel and electric rolling stock and the magazine was actively involved in the discussions of related issues.

In 1984, the “Railway Transport” magazine was headed by Kiril Radev, M.Eng.Sc. At that time, the magazine started to introduce its audience to the foreign (especially Western) experience and world tendencies in the sphere of railway transport.

Since 1997, the magazine has been headed by Todor Kondakov, M.Eng.Sc. (who was Deputy Editor-in-Chief in 1991-1997). In the complicated situation of the already-launched transition to market economy, the “Railway transport” magazine managed to adapt to the new requirements and became the main source for information and ideas on the possible ways to conduct reforms in the railways as well as on the vast foreign experience in the field.

In the last few years, we have paid special attention to issues related to the forthcoming EU accession of Bulgaria and the relevant inclusion into the European railway network. The pages of the magazine abound in strategic and economic analyses, which outline the chances and the hidden traps that lie before Bulgarian railways on their way to united Europe.

The endeavour for a European quality of the contents and conceptual design of “Railway Transport” acquired practical dimensions when, at the beginning of 2005, BDZ EAD and the French publishing group “Groupe Actis” signed an agreement, in compliance with which “Groupe Actis – Bulgaria” undertook the magazine’s management. This agreement marked the beginning of a new phase in the development of the Bulgarian railway publication. Thus, not only the magazine design and structure were radically improved and today are as fine as those of European publications in the field, but also it became possible to provide Bulgarian readers with up-to-date information and analyses of issues, which European railways have faced and which Bulgarian railways will most likely encounter.

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