In Brief


The Danube Bridge 2 project is launched

On 31st January the contracts were signed for the independent project management of the construction works and design control, as well as for the design and construction of Danube Bridge 2. The ceremony was attended by the Minister of Transport, Petar Mutafchiev, the Head of EC delegation to Bulgaria, Michael Humphreys, the Ambassadors of France and Spain – Yves Saint-Geours and Fernando Arias. The independent supervision will be performed by a consortium linking the French company INGEROP and the British High-Point Rendel. The Spanish company FCC CONSTRUCCION S.A. was appointed as contractor for the construction works. The contracts for the supervision and construction works were signed by the Deputy Minister, Vessela Gospodinova, the Chairman of INGEROP Executive Board Christian Delage and FCC Regional Director Ignacio Ruiz-Larrea Arranda. The Danube Bridge 2 will be competed in the spring of 2010.


Railways need public-private partnerships

According to the Chairman of the Parliamentary Transport Committee, Prof. Iordan Mirchev, the railway sector needs a long-term state policy based on tangible actions. He considers it necessary that the Government or the Parliament should elaborate as soon as possible a document formulating this policy. The document should indicate the technical infrastructure parameters and the requirements for a high level of rail service safety. Prof. Mirchev sees a clash between the interests of the railway carrier and the infrastructure manager and he also considers that economic levers and mechanisms should be sought within the railways themselves. According to him, 80% of the funding for railway rolling stock can be provided under public-private partnerships.


High-speed line Thessaloniki - Sofia?

According to the Bulgarian deputy in the European Parliament, Philip Dimitrov, the other Bulgarian deputies in the European Parliament, who are members of the European People’s Party, will propose to the transport committee the construction of a high-speed line between Sofia and Thessaloniki. He considers that the upgrading of this railway line on Bulgarian territory will attract significant investment in the region and will result in increased employment rates. This proposal will be elaborated in conjunction with the Greek European deputies from the EPP.


BDZ updated some passenger fares

As of 8th February, BDZ EAD has updated some passenger fares. The arguments goes that fares for short-distance trips have not been changed since August 2004 in spite of the increase in fuel prices, as well as the strong competition on the part of road carriers.


Within the limits of greater Sofia, the ticket will cost BGN0.70 and within the greater limits of other cities BGN0.60. Zone fares, which were introduced in 2006 for travel in some routes in the regions of Sofia and Plovdiv, will be changed as well – the zone fare for travel within one zone will be BGN1.00; for two zones – BGN1.80. The passenger fares for travel in the new diesel Desiros will go up by about 5%.


The prices of the “Youth” and “Classic” railway passes will also go up – to BGN30 and BGN45 respectively. The privilege for discounts to which the holders of these two passes are entitled will not be changed (a 50% discount off ordinary passenger fares and a 25% discount off the price of subscription passes).


BDZ EAD will keep unchanged the prices of all other railway passes and the relevant discounts for their holders, as well as the privilege for free travel for certain social groups. A new offer for the so-called “travel in small groups” is introduced – the discount for such trips will be 15% off the ordinary passenger fare.


Plovdiv - Svilengrad line construction go-ahead

On 5th February, the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works granted permission for the implementation of the first phase of construction works under the project for “the reconstruction and electrification of Plovdiv-Svilengrad-Turkish/Greek border and optimisation of the line alignment for speeds of 160 km/h”. It is a well-known fact that the Greek company TERNA S.A. is Contractor under this project. This phase of the project includes the design, construction and electrification of the line section between Krumovo and Parvomai. The permission for construction was issued on the basis of the conceptual design, reviewed by the National Expert Council for territory management and regional policy in December 2006 and validated in January 2007. 


Bulgarian and Romanian Transport ministers meet

On 9th February, the Bulgarian Minister of Transport, Petar Mutafchiev, and the Romanian Minister of Transport, Construction and Tourism, Radu Bercheanu, met in Rousse. During the meeting, the two ministers signed an agreement for the operations at Bulgarian-Romanian railway border crossings. They also agreed upon the commissioning of a joint bus line between Rousse and Giurgiu, which will be exempted from toll charges for the crossing of the Danube Bridge. A regular train between Rousse and Giurgiu will also be commissioned and Desiro train-sets will operate along this section. The meeting was also attended by representatives of the Bulgarian and Romanian railway administrations.


Changes in some train schedules

With a view to the improvement of passenger services, as of 19th February BDZ EAD extended the route of two commuting trains, which have hitherto run only between Koprivshtitsa and Sofia. Now they will serve passengers in the section Karlovo-Sofia-Karlovo, thus providing transport to passengers from more railway stations to and from their working places.


At the same time, marketing studies of BDZ show that there is minimal use of some other regional trains, which makes their operation inefficient. Therefore, the regional trains 42271 from Gabrovo to Tsareva livada and 42272 from Tsareva livada to Gabrovo have been withdrawn. The operational route of regional trains 30211 and 30212, which have hitherto run between Zlatitsa and Karlovo, will be shortened and from now on they will operate only between Klisura and Karlovo.


A direct Rousse - Bucharest service?

The regional railway centre for passenger services in Rousse and the local Municipality have come up with the proposal to commission a direct train between Rousse and Bucharest, 70 km away. According to the envisaged timetable, the train will depart from Rousse at 06:30 hrs and come back from Bucharest at 17:00 hrs.


Rousse expects to receive EUR70 million for a railway line

During his visit to Rousse on 20th February, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ivaylo Kalfin, discussed with the local authorities the possible doubling of the cross-town railway line between the Danube Bridge and the Dolapite residential area. It is expected that the project will be ready by end-2007 and EUR70 million are to be allocated by EU Cohesion funds, while co-funding will be provided by the State.


Trapezitsa halt is pending reconstruction

In the summer of 2007, the halt at Trapezitsa will be rebuilt. Currently, it is unmanned, but trains from and to Veliko Turnovo stop there as it is convenient for passengers. The list of necessary reconstruction works, as well as the funding options thereof, is pending validation.


Level crossings in Blagoevgrad rebuilt

Three railway level crossings, located at some of the streets in Blagoevgrad where traffic is the busiest – Kl, Ochridski Str., Vasil Levski Str. and Osvobozhdenie Str. – have been rebuilt. The owner of these level crossings is NRIC, Doupnitsa section.


BDZ in “You are not alone” campaign

On 9th February, BDZ EAD took an active part in the national campaign in support of the Bulgarian nurses unjustly accused in Libya. At 12:00 o’clock sharp, 365 locomotives in the whole country blew their whistles for 2 minutes and in 62 railway stations the clients of the company received the paper ribbons of the “You are not alone” campaign when buying train tickets.


Shortlist for Vidin - Sofia project approved

The shortlist of bidders for the “Technical assistance for the upgrading of Vidin-Sofia railway line” project has been approved. On 16th February, it was published on the Internet site of the European Commission. From a total of 19 bidders, seven companies were short-listed. These are IBERINSA from Spain, SCETAUROUTE from France, Ingenieurburo Dipl.-Ing. H. Vossing GmbH  from Germany, GPO Ingeneria from Spain, Parsons Brinckerhoff Ltd from Great Britain, TRANSURB TECHNIRAIL SA from Belgium and SYSTRA from France. The deadline for the submission of documents elapses at the end of June 2007. The project includes a feasibility study and upgrading options, traffic analyses and forecasts, a selection of scenarios for the upgrading works, financial analysis and report on operational compatibility, as well as a detailed programme for the upgrading works and the strategy of its implementation.


The maximum project budget amounts to EUR3.8 million, 85% of which are provided under ISPA program, and 15% are provided by the State.


Gastrade to build a port

“Gastrade” S.A., which is said to be applying for a licence for a private railway operator, launches the building of a port and storage facilities for liquid fuels at Beloslav lake this April. The project costs will exceed EUR25 million. The company has already bought a land lot of 100 decares, as well as 6 km of adjacent railway infrastructure.


Initiative for cross-border railway connections

During the meeting of 12 mayors and representatives of municipalities from Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia held on 15th February, the participants requested the modernisation of railway connections and the construction of a railway line via Jerdap II. Among those who signed the resolution are the mayors of Vidin (Ivan Tsenov), of Kalafat (Petre Traistaru) and of Zaicar (Bosko Nicic).


EUR120 million needed for Belyakovtsi - Gueshevo section

According to the Minister of Transport and Communications of Macedonia, Mile Janakieski, Bulgaria and Macedonia will together turn to the European funds for the construction of the railway line section between Belyakovtsi and Gueshevo, which is part of Sofia-Skopje line, which on its part lies along Trans-European transport corridor VIII. The amount required is EUR120 million.

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