In Brief

The electrification of Plovdiv - Svilengrad will get launched

By the end of 2005, the electrification of the first 37 km of the railway line Plovdiv-Svilengrad will be launched. The total price of the project is EUR340 million and it will be accomplished in 2009. After the commissioning of the electrified line, the maximum speed of trains along it will reach 160 km/h.

Session of the Bulgarian-Turkish transport committee

On 27th and 28th October, the Joint Bulgarian-Turkish transport committee held its 21st session. The event took place in the Ministry of Transport in Sofia. The session was opened by Minister Mutafchiev. Co-chairman on Bulgarian side was the Deputy Minister Petarneichev, and on Turkish side, the Deputy Secretary of State of the Ministry of Transport and Communications, Barish Tozar.

Minister Mutafchiev participated in the 7th Economic Forum

On 1st November, the Minister of Transport, Petar Mutafchiev, opened the discussion panel on ‘Transport network development in South Eastern Europe’ within the seventh Economic Forum for South-Eastern Europe.

In this discussion, the Minister of Transport and Communications of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Prof. Branko Dokic took part.

In his report Minister Mutafchiev outlined the transport strategy of Bulgaria and highlighted the main infrastructure projects under way, such as the accomplishment of construction works at Sofia airport, the construction of Danube bridge 2, the reconstruction and electrification of Plovdiv-Svilengrad railway line, the construction of a new pier and terminal for loose goods at the port of Bourgas, as well as the construction of a winter quay facility for 39 ships, operating along the Danube.

Infrastructure development strategy

By order of the Minister of Transport, Petar Mutafchiev, in the beginning of November a working party was established, the aim of which is to elaborate a proposal for the structure and contents of the draft text of the National Strategy for Infrastructure Development in the Republic of Bulgaria by 2015. The reason for the establishment of this party is the lack of an all-embracing and logically consistent concept in this sphere. The working party is presided over by the Deputy Minister of Transport, Vessela Gospodinova, and two of the party members are also Deputy Ministers of Transport – Georgi Petarneichev and Daniela Nikiforova. The working party shall present its proposal to the Minister by the begining of December.

EU Ministers of transport met in Verona

The Minister of Transport, Petar Mutafchiev, took part in the conference of Ministers of transport of EU member and associated countries in Verona, held on 4th-5th November. The Deputy Minister, Krasimira Martinova, also attended the conference. Among the highlights of the summit, convened for the third year running, were the security enhancement of European road traffic, as well as the financial mechanisms for safety-related projects. In addition to the British EU presidency, the main topic discussed at the summit was ‘Lifelong learning for road safety’. At the conference, the pilot project “EU Measures for the enhancement of children’s safety in road traffic’ was presented. The conference was presided over by the Italian Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Pietro Lunardi, the UK Minister of State for Transport, Stephen Ladyman, and the Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Transport, Jacques Barrot. According to Minister Mutafchiev, Bulgaria has undertaken the commitment to introduce such measures for traffic safety, which would result in double reduction of traffic incidents.

The Steering Committee for Danube Bridge 2 held a meeting

After a two-year break, the Steering Committee for Danube Bridge 2 resumed its meetings. This Committee is the topmost body within the project management structure and is directly subordinated to the Council of Ministers. Chairperson of the Steering Committee is the Deputy Minister of Transport, Vessela Gospodinova, and its members are the Deputy Ministers for regional development and public works, foreign affairs, finance, environment and water, labour and social policy; the Secretary General of the Ministry of the Interior, the Executive director of Executive Agency ‘Roads’, the District Governor and the Mayor of Vidin, the Director General of NRIC, the Executive Director of BDZ EAD and the Director of ‘Economic policy’ Department in the Ministry of Transport.

The Committee meeting was opened by the Minister of Transport, Petar Mutafchiev, and the participants were informed about the project implementation progress and the problems, related to land acquisition procedures. The Steering Committee nominated Simeon Evtimov, M.Eng.Sc., for the position of Head of Project Implementation and Management Unit. His assignment will be coordinated with the European Investment Bank, which is among the main financial sponsors of Danube Bridge 2.

BDZ will construct its own optic fibre network?

According to the Minister of Transport, Petar Mutafchiev, it is possible that BDZ establish a joint venture with a private partner in order to construct its own optic fibre network. Both State funds and EU funds will be considered as financial sources. After the joint venture starts providing services to outside customers as well, BDZ will apply to the Committee for communication regulation for the issuing of a licence for the construction of a communications network. According to Minister Mutafchiev, the private business sector is very interested in the railway project for the construction of an optic fibre network.

Project for a faster train between Sofia and Plovdiv

A group in the Ministry of Transport is working upon a project for a faster train, which will run the distance between Sofia and Plovdiv in an hour and a half, reaching the speed of 135 km/h. According to the transport minister, Petar Mutafchiev, a number of banks have expressed interest in providing credits for the railway line reconstruction. The ministry considers the option for a speed of 160 km/h, which will necessitate changes to the line alignment and the procurement of tilting trains. Under this option, the journey time between Sofia and Plovdiv will drop down to less than an hour.

New design of the station square in Kazanlak

The implementation of the project for a new design of the station square in Kazanlak will present a new solution for the traffic of transport flows. The overall price of the project is BGN249 500, of which BGN92 500 will be utilised by the end of 2005 for the reconstruction of road surface and underground infrastructure. The implementation of this phase is carried out jointly by the regional administrative authorities, BDZ EAD (as owner of the ground lot) and the company ‘Kumax-Invest’, which manages the bus station. The station square will be the entrance point to the pedestrian zone along the North-South axis, which links the railway station with the city-centre area and continues to the ‘Tiulbeto’ park where the Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak is situated.

BDZ resumed the operation of the direct sleeping-car to Vienna

On 16th November, the operation of the direct sleeping-car of Bulgarian railways between Sofia and Vienna was resumed. We can recall that on 1st September, this sleeping-car was temporarily cancelled because of reconstruction works on the railway infrastructure on Serbian territory between Novi Sad and Belgrade. Till Belgrade, the direct sleeping-car runs in the composition of the international train from Istanbul to Belgrade and departs from Sofia at 12.40. From Belgrade to Vienna, the sleeping-car runs in the compositions of other international trains and arrives in the Austrian capital at 09.04.

NRIC announced Call for Bids for an Auditor

NRIC announced an open Call for Bids for the selection of a company, which is to perform the audit of the annual financial reports of the company for 2005 and 2006. The Auditor should comply with the International standards for financial reports and the provisions of the Law for independent financial audit. The deadline for submission of the bids is 19th December 2005, while the term for the assignment accomplishment is 31st March 2007.

The Regional enterprise for railway infrastructure operation and maintenance launched negotiations on the urgent and lasting reconstruction of the railway line section between Svoge and Bov, which was seriously damaged by the summer floods. Seven companies have been invited to take part in the negotiations.

Advisory Council within the Ministry of Transport

An Advisory Council, including 16 popular citizens, will assist the Minister of Transport and his deputies in the process regarding decisions which are important for society, and the discussion of significant transport projects. Members of the Council are: the Rector of the ‘Todor Kableshkov’ High Transport School, Assistant Professor Nencho Nenov, the Dean of the Transport Department of Sofia Technical University, Assistant Professor Borislav Traikov; the Dean of the Transport Construction Department of the University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy, Assistant Professor Dobrin Denev; the Head of Transport Economy Department of the Univerity for National and World Economy, Assistant Professor Hristo Parvanov; the Dean of the Economy Department of the Blagoevgrad University, Assistant Professor Chavdar Nikolov; the expert in international maritime legislation, Professor Alexandar Yankov; the geo-politician and architect Hristo Genchev; the expert in international matters Chavdar Minchev; the Chairman of the Scientific and Technical Transport Union, Kiril Ermenkov M.Eng.Sc.; the Head of the National Transport Chamber, Koicho Rusev M. Eng. Sc.; the Chairman of the National Association of Bulgarian Forwarders, Ivan Petrov; the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Association of Bulgarian Enterprises for International Transports and Roads, Georgi Petrov; the pilots Valeri Doganov and Valentina Tsvetkova; the Director of the Transport and Communications Institute, Christo Chakarov and an ex-Director General of BDZ, Atanas Tonev M.Eng.Sc.

BDZ EAD adopted its new tariff policy

On 18th November 2005, the Board of Directors of BDZ EAD discussed and adopted the tariff policy of the company for 2006. During the discussion, the following circumstances were considered: the extra costs the company incurred due to the floods in the summer; the lower quality of the transport services provided by BDZ EAD as a result of the natural disaster; the 30% rise of petrol prices and the 16% rise of the prices of industrial electricity. The new tariff policy of BDZ EAD aims at: better travelling conditions in passenger railcars by guaranteeing the necessary comfort, extra services, keeping to the train timetable; cutting the journey time of some trains down by 5%; better compatibility of train and bus timetables at the main railway stations so that passenger waiting time can be reduced; passenger fare reductions for elderly people and students from 30% to 50%; higher revenue from transport services; reasonable increase of passenger fares by 8% on the average, differentiated as follows: suburban railway transport services at distances up to 60 km – the average increase is up to 5%; railway transport services at distances up to 100 km – the increase is up to 4%; railway transport services at medium distances – the increase is from 7 to 10%; and railway transport services at distances above 550 km – the increase is about 13%; introduction of zone fares for distances up to 60 km – prices, ranging from 0.80 lv to 2.00 lv; complying with the international freight services regulations and implementation of new freight transport technologies; freight tariffs and discounts that guarantee higher revenue and competitive power of railway transport.

The new passenger fare of BDZ EAD is coming into force on 11th December 2005 along with the new train timetable.

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