Prospects for the interaction between high-speed trains and urban transport

By Prof. Iordan TASSEV, Ph.D. and

Senior Assistant, Dimitar DICHEV, Ph.D

Sofia Technical University

Underground railways prove expensive for long-distance services and the journey times of trams are too long. Therefore, the solution to the transport problems of large cities is the construction of surface railways, crossing at different levels the other urban communication paths.

The main requirement is the reduction of journey times. This can be achieved by means of higher speeds and a higher frequency of train operations. In order to utilise rationally the advantages of high-speed trains, passengers should be able to reach their departure stations in a short time. To this end, many countries have introduced urban and regional express trains. The layout of stations, where urban and railway main-line vehicles interact, is of major importance as well.

The interaction between urban and railway transport in Sofia is performed by trams. Currently, there are eight tramway lines, which operate via the square in front of Sofia Central Station. The main boulevard, from the city centre to the station, has been transformed from a pedestrian area into a heavy traffic zone. Thus, the trams which operate via the centre move at a speed of 5-10 km/h. Furthermore, after 8 p.m., the tram operation frequency declines to intervals of 20-30 minutes. The fast and express trains from Varna, Bourgas, Vidin and Petrich arrive in Sofia in the time period between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. This is the reason why many passengers prefer to get back to the capital in the afternoon hours by bus.

The analysis, presented in the article, shows that the indicators, related to the interaction between the Bulgarian railway and urban transport, demand improvement. The increase in train speeds can become an actual benefit and can attract new customers only if passengers are able to reach railway stations in the shortest possible time. In other words, it is in the best interest of railways to improve their interaction with urban transport and to conduct a persistent policy for the improvement of urban transport links to railway stations.

The railway administration should not only rely upon the activity of urban transport companies, but should implement its own measures. Such measures should aim at the improvement of suburban services in order to synchronise them with fast and express train services. A particular measure in this respect could be the procurement of new EMUs to operate at a greater frequency along the suburban lines to Pernik, Bankya, Ihtiman and Lakatnik.

Further coherent measures would be the restoration of the urban railways in Plovdiv and the re-introduction of passenger services along the railway line in Rousse along the Danube. The concept for linking Obelya passenger station with the wagon depot in Nadejda should be implemented as well. Thus, Obelya station will become the entry point to and from the depot for passenger train compositions, which operate to Lyulin and Obelya residential areas and which could go via Sofia Central Station to other destinations as well.

.:: Home ::.