Railways in the focus of the transport and logistics forum

 

The first international “Transport and logistics” exhibition was organised by the Bulgarreklama Agency and Bulgarian Transport Press Ltd. under the aegis of the Ministry of Transport. The exhibition took place on 13th-17th February 2007 in Sofia’s Inter Expo and Congress Centre. In an area of 3 000 sq.m. over 120 direct participants and representatives of well-known Bulgarian and foreign companies came together from 18 countries, such as France, Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, the USA, Italy, the Netherlands, Japan, Spain, Great Britain, Greece, Finland, Turkey, Russia, Poland, etc. They presented the latest developments in forwarding and logistic services, international and domestic transport, warehouse equipment, specialised transport means and transport informatics.

 

In parallel to the exhibition a scientific conference on “Transport infrastructure and transport-logistic systems” was held. The Minister of Transport, Petar Mutafchiev, who was the patron of the conference, delivered a report on the priorities of transport infrastructure and transport-logistic systems in Bulgaria. According to him, the future development of the intermodal transport system and the quality enhancement of freight transport-logistic services call for improvements in the technical, technological and operational parameters of terminal facilities, construction of new and reconstruction of existing infrastructure for intermodal terminals, as well as the modernisation and electrification of railway links to sea and inland port terminals. Minister Mutafchiev paid special attention to the prospects for the future intermodal terminal in Sofia and the construction of such facilities in Plovdiv, Dimitrovgrad and Rousse, as well as to the railway link between Rousse and Varna.

 

In his turn, the President of the Bulgarian Industrial Association, Bozhidar Danev, pointed out that if no radical measures for the improvement of transport infrastructure condition are taken, national economy development will be hindered. Among the major problems in the sectors he highlighted the poor condition of the railway network, as well as the desperate need for rolling stock with a view to the implementation of already-signed contracts for freight transport.

 

Even stronger in his criticism of the current condition of the railways was the Chairman of the National Association of Bulgarian Forwarders, Georgi Minchev, according to whom the transport system in our country as a whole is outdated by dozens of years, while the railway sector itself is “utterly degraded”. He considers the literal translation of regulatory documents of EU member countries and their automatic implementation in our country as a serious problem for Bulgaria.

 

Maria Chakarova, who is a Director in NRIC and responsible for the company’s strategy, addressed the two topmost priorities of the company. One of these is the development of the railway infrastructure as a modal part of the European infrastructure and the rendering of rail highways in our country in compliance with EU technical requirements. The sector development programme envisages the implementation of a project for the construction and upgrading of the railway infrastructure in the period 2007-2013. The project costs EUR988 million and covers six main lines. The funding will come from EU Cohesion funds. The second main priority of NRIC is the construction of intermodal terminals. The key locations for such facilities were defined in January, and priority will be given to those in Sofia, Varna, Bourgas, Rousse and Plovdiv.

 

Particularly interesting was the report, delivered by Pencho Popov, Director of the Central Freight Service Division in BDZ EAD. He pointed out that the development of combined services is a priority task of the national railway carrier. According to him, the high volume of road services via Bulgaria implies a significant potential for the development of combined road-rail services. In order to promote the latter, a special infrastructure charge is applied as of 1st January and block-trains with container wagons are charged at preferential rates. Popov emphasised the fact that BDZ can actually utilise only half of the containers it owns. He stated that BDZ cannot offer to its customers door-to-door services because of problems with the terminal facilities. Currently, the company performs domestic combined transport of limestone from Asparuhovo to Radnevo. BDZ expects much from the transport flows between the ports and the inland destinations in the country (e.g. Bourgas-Philipovo, where an intermodal facility is located). Number one priority for the company is transit traffics, although due to current problems some customers prefer routes via Serbia to routes via Bulgaria.


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