In Brief

 

The Parliament ratifies an Agreement on cross-border railway traffi

The National Assembly has ratified the Agreement between the Governments of Bulgaria and Serbia & Montenegro on border controls and relevant procedures in railway traffic. The Agreement brings these procedures in unison with the current regulatory basis of the EU.

 

Alctatel safety system is in operation

On 20th March, the Minister of Transport, Petar Mutafchiev, and the Executive Director of BDZ EAD, Oleg Petkov, attended the official commissioning of the European Train Control System, provided by the Austrian company Alcatel. This project was funded under PHARE programme and its price is EUR10.15 million. The project includes the delivery, installation and putting into operation of the system in Plovdiv railway junction and the railway section Stara Zagora-Bourgas. According to Alcatel representative, Alfred Veider, Bulgaria is the first country where the company will have deployed its super-computer. The system will warn locomotive drivers if their actions create the risk of a dangerous situation and can automatically activate the operational and emergency brakes irrespective of the driver’s actions. Along the track special balises are installed which transmit information to the on-board equipment in the locomotive.

 

Workshop on railway border crossings

A workshop on issues related to railway border crossings in South-Eastern Europe was held on 21st and 22nd March in the City Hotel in Sofia. The workshop was chaired by Ad Toet, Advisor for Central and Eastern Europe in the Community of European Railways (CER). The meeting was attended by the Executive Director of BDZ EAD, Oleg Petkov, as well as by experts from Balkan and some European railways, representatives of the World Bank and of the UIC. During the discussions, experts from BDZ and the Serbian railways presented the successful project for the establishment of the common border station at Dimitrovgrad.

 

Minister Mutafchiev inspects Sofia - Lom line

At the end of February, the Minister of Transport, Petar Mutafchiev, inspected the Sofia-Lom railway line (which is part of the Pan-European Corridor IV) and visited Mezdra, Vratsa and Lom stations. His visit was related to the implementation of rehabilitation works of the station buildings at Mezdra and Vratsa. After his meeting with the Mayor of Mezdra, the Minister declared that an EMU will be commissioned between Vratsa and Mezdra, and that at Beli izvor station two more freight tracks will be opened which will ensure the transport of further 100 thousand tons of cargo for the “Holsim” cement works. He pointed out that there have been delays in the reconstruction of 2,400 km (out of 7,200 km) of railway network, as well as in the reconstruction of station infrastructure. Meanwhile, BDZ has commissioned a daily express train between Vratsa and Plovdiv.

 

Coordination centre for combating natural disasters

By order of the Minister of Transport, Petar Mutafchiev, a coordination centre for the synchronisation of measures for overcoming the consequences from natural disasters, large-scale technical incidents and crises in the transport sphere was established on 14th March. The centre is headed by the Deputy Minister, Georgi Petarneichev, and members are the Director of Crisis Management, the Heads of Executive agencies within the ministry, the Executive Director of BDZ EAD, Oleg Petkov, the Director General of NRIC, Dimitar Gaidarov, and the Executive Director of the state enterprise “Transport construction and reconstruction”, Tsvetan Gogov. Secretary of the Coordination Centre is the Head of “Railway inspection” Directorate within the Executive agency “Railway administration”, Anton Burov.

 

More passengers in suburban trains around Sofia

The analysis of passenger flows in the trains operating in the region of the capital city for the period of the first two months after the introduction of zone fares shows that along some of the routes the number of passengers has increased. Thus, journeys along the line Sofia-Svoge-Sofia have increased by 30%. There is a 20% increase of the number of passengers along the routes Sofia-Pernik, Zaharna fabrika-Pernik and Sofia-Vlado Trichkov. Another positive result is the enhancement of control over passengers without tickets.

 

Transport ministers discuss the future of Corridor VIII

On 8th March, the Prime Minister, Sergei Stanishev, discussed the acceleration of construction works on Pan-European Corridor VIII with the Minister of Public Works, Transport and Telecommunications of Albania, Lulzim Basha, the Minister of Transport and Communications of Macedonia, Xhemali Mehazi, and the Minister of Infrastructure and Transport of Italy, Pietro Lunardi, who visited our country by invitation of the Bulgarian Transport Minister, Petar Mutafchiev. The Prime Minister and the foreign guests confirmed the willingness of their respective governments to establish an efficient transport system, integrated railways and highways and ports of Corridor VIII member-countries. Sergei Stanishev underlined the need for practical steps to the construction of the Corridor, the successful completion of which will ensure further cooperation and improve integration both between Corridor member-countries and within the whole region of South-Eastern Europe. Later, the four Transport Ministers met in Plovdiv, where they signed a joint declaration for the construction of the Corridor. They approved of the progress, achieved for some sections along Corridor VIII and stated that they will encourage the relevant institutions to continue their work till the final completion of the project. A large-scale information campaign is envisaged with a view to attracting future investors in the construction of the Corridor. The ministers expressed their approval for the Bulgarian initiative for the holding of this important meeting and underlined that such meetings at ministerial level should convened on a regular basis. According to Minister Mutafchiev, Bulgaria needs EUR350 million for the completion of construction works of road, rail and seaway infrastructure, related to Corridor VIII. Still pending is the construction of the railway link between Gueshsevo and Macedonia (Belyakovtsi).

 

Foreign interest in railway infrastructure projects

The Danish company Maersk Sealand, which specialises in maritime container transport, has expressed interest in the construction of the terminal for intermodal transport in Kazichene. This company is a division of A.P. MOller Group and is among the largest in the world. Meanwhile, the German concern Siemens has confirmed its intention to participate in future projects for the modernisation of railway infrastructure in Bulgaria.

 

Meetings of the Committee for TRACECA

On 1st March, a meeting was held in the Ministry of Transport of the Governmental-Public Advisory Committee (GPAC) for TRACECA (the transport corridor Europe-the Caucasus-Asia), headed by the Deputy Minister Georgi Petarneichev. Committee members, experts from the transport ministry and a representative of the “International Legislation” directorate with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs participated in the meeting. At the meeting, the Activity Report of the GPAC for TRACECA and the implementation of decisions adopted by the 4th annual session of TRACECA (Baku, April 2005) was presented. It was reported that Bulgaria is prepared to adopt the Strategy of the Inter-Governmental Committee for TRACECA for the period till 2015 during the annual session, which will be held in Sofia in May this year. Information was presented on the proceedings of the Inter-Ministerial working group for the compilation of a data base on transport flows along TRACECA. The representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs presented the concept for the transformation of TRACECA from an international body into an international organisation.

 

BDZ adopts extra measures against floods

As a result of bad weather conditions on 13th March, BDZ cancelled train traffic on the railway section between Vakarel and Kostenets. The melting of snow and heavy rainfall flooded the tracks at Ihtiman station. The express and fast trains, scheduled to run via the flooded section were redirected to a roundabout route via Karlovo. BDZ provided buses for the transport of passengers from five fast and nine regional trains in the section between Vakarel and Ihtiman. The railways established immediately a crisis centre to monitor the situation closely and to undertake immediate and adequate measures.

 

Primastroi 21” will reinforce a railway section near Kostenets

NRIC has selected a Sofia-based company, Primastroi 21 Ltd. as Contractor for the reinforcement works on weaker terrains on the line sections Kostenets-Sestrimo and Sestrimo-Belovo. The Contract price is BGN1.27 million (including VAT). The Contract was concluded on 6th March after evaluation of the two bids submitted to the bidding procedure. The selection criteria of NRIC were the financial offer, the term and implementation scheme of the assignment.

 

Conference on transport infrastructure

On 14th March in Sofia, a conference was held on “European funds and infrastructure projects in Bulgaria”, which was attended by representatives of the European Commission, the ministries of finance and regional development, the Agency for Economic Analyses and Forecasts, the Bulgarian Branch Chamber for Roads, etc. The Ministry of Transport was represented by the Deputy Minister, Vessela Gospodinova, who confirmed that infrastructure development is a major priority of the Bulgarian Government, which has decided that by end-March a Strategy for infrastructure development will be elaborated. Vessela Gospodinova delivered a presentation on “Transport infrastructure development in Bulgaria. Preparation and utilisation of EU funds”.

 

EUR 800 million for the railways for the period 2007-2013

According to the Minister of Transport, Petar Mutafchiev, EUR800 million have been allocated for Bulgarian railway transport by a number of European funds for the period 2007-2013. The actual provision of this amount calls for accelerated project development. Hitherto, funds for the preparation of three projects have been allocated under ISPA and funds for three further projects have been applied for. State budget funding will be given for the modernisation of the railway lines Karnobat-Sindel, Rousse-Varna, Gorna Oryahovitsa-Ksapichan and Sofia-Karlovo-Zimnitsa. The necessary funding amounts to EUR44.3 million.


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