Christmas address of the Executive Director of BDZ EAD
The most cherished time of the year draws near when each of us looks into himself to sum up what he has done, to rationalise what he experienced and to look ahead with hope and confidence!
The year, which is now in its last days, was difficult for “Bulgarian State Railways” EAD. The national railway carrier is suffering from the heavy consequences of the economic and financial crises. The drastic drop in transport volumes is only one of the external manifestations of the painful processes which ail the railways.
When a living body is ill, it can and must be cured. Healing comes with neither the groundless optimism of empty words, nor with the resignation to circumstances. Healing is creation. The drive to create the railways, that all of us have been dreaming of and have seen as possible, will give us the confidence to take good care of the process of change and make our best efforts to make it happen.
In spite of hardships, Bulgarian railway workers persevere in their courage, responsibility and professionalism. The trains of “Bulgarian State Railways” EAD continue to jingle their melody on the railway lines of our country thanks to the diligence and persistent labour of its thousands of workers and employees. Tough and strenuous is the soul of the railwayman; it overcomes collapses and mishaps and musters up all its internal strength to set out again with dignity. The period of crisis is a challenge which I am convinced we can meet with courage and responsibility. The initiation of purposeful and carefully considered actions will guarantee the stability, efficiency and competitiveness of the company. The way in which we shall overcome the difficulties will be the measure of our ability as professionals and human beings to give out the best of ourselves in the name of the railways, which is not just a profession, but a lifetime dedication.
The process of change does not come down to a mere structural reform. The change, which all of us in the railway system implement, is above all a change in our own attitudes to work, responsibilities and enterprise. As all of us know on the basis of our personal experience, when man is in the greatest difficulties he should concentrate all his powers on the identification of solutions, because only a constructive approach to the problem can help us overcome any critical situation.
I have faith in the great professional and personal qualities of railway workers and employees. The authority of Bulgarian railway personnel is manifested again and again every minute of our working days. We know we can work well – let’s proudly lift up our heads and do it!
I wish to all of you in the Bulgarian state railways system, good health, assurance and the will to work so that we can respond successfully to the requirements of Bulgarian society and earn the trust of our customers and partners!
Merry Christmas and a Happy 2010!
Eng. Pencho Popov
MTITC reports on its first 100 days and presents strategy till 2020
The Minister of Transport, Information Ttechnologies and Communications, Aleksandar Tsvetkov and his three Deputy Ministers – Kamen Kichev, Ivaylo Moskovski and Parvan Rusinov – reported on the results of the first 100 days of their mandate at a press conference held on 8th November. Among the main achievements in this period is the fact that BDZ EAD and NRIC are now implementing anti-crisis plans. Minister Tsvetkov pointed out that by end-2009, structural changes should be implemented in both State-owned companies. He said that among the most important things which he managed to achieve during the first 100 days is the provision of an additional subsidy of BGN23.555 million for the infrastructure manager. The restriction of unfair competition in transport and the accelerated development of combined (Ro-La) transport are an exceptionally important task with a view to the establishment of a normally functioning business environment for both companies. Therefore, the preparation for the construction of the Sofia intermodal terminal facility will be accelerated in parallel with the elaboration of analyses of putting into operation the first routes for combined transport. As main priorities of the Ministry in the coming four years the team of Minister Tsvetkov outlined the following: successful integration of the Bulgarian transport system into the European one and the strengthening of its priority role in the region; provision of easily- accessible and safe transport in all regions of the country; maintenance, modernisation and construction of transport infrastructure; the enhancement of project management and implementation, including funding through EU funds and public-private partnerships and the establishment of conditions for effective counteraction to unfair competition in the transport sector.
On 12th November, the management team of MTITC presented to the Parliament Transport Committee the Strategy for the development of the transport system until 2020. Among the strategic priorities in the railway sector are the efficient maintenance, modernisation and construction of transport infrastructure; the integration of the Bulgarian transport system into the European one; the provision of transparent and harmonised conditions for competition in the transport market and a favourable business environment; adequate funding for the functioning and development of the sector and the efficient utilisation of European funding; development of the railways as an environmentally-friendly transport mode; the development of intermodal transport. With a view to the achievement of these objectives, the following measures will be undertaken:
- the acceleration of infrastructure project implementation in railway transport;
- the development of infrastructure for high-speed transport;
- the operation and maintenance of railway infrastructure in accordance with technical regulations and standards;
- the development of intermodal transport;
- the wider implementation of public-private partnership and concession models;
- the development of logistics infrastructure, including the construction of intermodal terminals in Sofia and Plovdiv and container terminals in Varna and Burgas, as well as the design of new intermodal terminals;
- the enhancement of railway competitiveness and increase of its transport market share.
Railway construction forum in Plovdiv
The National Association Railway Track Engineer Society (NARTES) in cooperation with the Scientific and Technical Transport Council (STTC) and the Bulgarian Association of Railway Construction Consultants (BARCC) organised on 13th and 14th November in Plovdiv a national conference with international participation on “European railway corridors and strategic axes – implementation of the projects in Bulgaria”.
Among the participants were the Executive Director of the Railway Administration Executive Agency, Simeon Ananiev and the Director of the State enterprise “Transport Construction and Reconstruction”, Valery Vasilev.
Moderators of the three conference panels were the chairmen of STTC, BARCC and NARTES – Kiril Ermenkov, Ilia Iliev and Ivo Yanakiev.
In his presentation, NRIC Director General Milcho Lambrev analysed the degree of preparation of the company for the implementation of large-scale infrastructure projects. The project for the Plovdiv-Svilengrad railway line was the focus of presentations by Assoc. Prof. Stoyo Todorov and eng. Margarit Zheponov, as well as by Richard Kerry who represents the Supervisory team for the Danube Bridge 2 project. The “Svilengrad-Turkish border” project was presented by the Executive Director of OHL ZS – Bulgaria, Lubomir Polak. The national policy and priorities for the development of railway transport in 2010-2013 were highlighted in the report by Dimitar Savov, Director of the National Transport Policy Directorate in MTITC.
Interesting reports on new technologies for track and adjacent facility construction were presented by Manfred Schater and Tomas Schlender from ThyssenKrupp Gleistechnik, Vasil Lazov from HF-Wiebe and Kosta Kostov from T. Kableshkov Transport High School. In his turn, Vincent Lorenz from Ingerop reviewed the main criteria for the identification of cost-efficient solutions for new railway projects as well as the options for the optimisation of current railway lines and stations. The presentation by Biser Minchev from EARA considered the procedures for the putting into operation of railway infrastructure subsystems.
XIXth conference “Transport 2009”
The Todor Kableshkov Transport High School organised for the nineteenth time the international scientific conference “Transport 2009”, held on 6th and 7th November in the HTS meeting and lecture halls. The conference was attended by scientists from Bulgaria, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, France, Turkey, Serbia, Russia and Hungary. The Chairman of the Programme Committee and Rector of HTS, Prof. Petar Kolev, highlighted the fact that the gathering of so many experts in Sofia allows the representatives of Bulgarian transport institutions to establish valuable contacts, thus facilitating the involvement of our country in European projects and programmes. The participants in the conference were welcomed by the Deputy Minister of Transport, Kamen Kichev, the Chairman of the Scientific and Technical Transport Council, Kiril Ermenkov, and representatives of a number of foreign universities.
In her presentation at the conference, Daniela Todorova from HTS pointed out the consequences from the financial crisis for railway services. In his turn, the Director of “Metropoliten” AD, Stoyan Bratoev, presented the audience with the pending extension of the Sofia Undergroud. The presentation of Valko Stanev made it clear in its turn that railway level-crossings are among the bottlenecks in the unified transport system. Quality control over pre-stressed concrete sleepers during the production process was the topic of the report presented by Hasan Guller from the University of Sakarya (Turkey). Kristiano Fragasa from the University of Bologna analysed the methods for the enhancement of safety and reliability in the transport sector and Zlatin Krumov from HTS presented the issues concerning the implementation of projects during the times of financial crisis.
The presentations of the other speakers concerned topical issues from the sphere of engineering logistics and construction equipment: safety, electrical energy systems and facilities, transport infrastructure, innovative approaches in transport education, communication and signalling equipment.
All reports, presented at the conference, were put together in a special book, published by the T. Kableshkov HTS.
Minister Tsvetkov takes part in the annual meeting with the business sector
The Minister of Transport, Information Technologies and Communications, Aleksandar Tsvetkov, took part in the Fourth annual meeting of the business sector with the Government, held on 3rd November. At the meeting he presented the main objectives and priorities of the Ministry in the sphere of transport policy and analysed the results of anti-crisis measures adopted hitherto by the transport companies within the Ministry, the efficient utilisation of European funding (as well as funding from international financial institutions), the improvement of the safety level and the quality of transport services and the provision of a favourable environment for the function of transport logistics and the business sector.
Sofia Central Station up for concession
According to the Deputy Minister of Transport, Kamen Kichev, it is possible that Sofia Central Station may be offered for concession. He considers concessioning as the only development option for large railway stations. The Deputy Minister announced that MTITC is going to change the current practice for attracting investors. Therefore, the Calls for Bids for larger projects will be published in foreign media as well.
NRIC prepares the railway network for the winter season
In the beginning of November, expert groups of NRIC completed the regular annual revision of railway infrastructure facilities and their reliability in the context of the forthcoming winter season. The Energy Division performed a large-scale check up of the conditions of catenary lines in the country in order to guarantee its failure-proof performance during the winter cold. The expert groups checked the heating installations at work premises and administrative buildings. Following a decision of the Management Board of NRIC, the company launched a procedure for the procurement of coal and briquettes for heating purposes.
Better passenger connections in Berkovitsa and Montana
As of 30th October, BDZ EAD introduced a new organisation for track allocation at Boichinovtsi station which will improve the transport services for passengers from Berkovitsa and Montana, travelling to Sofia and Vidin. The new track allocation scheme allows passengers to transfer quickly and conveniently from one train to another. Furthermore, the timetables of four regional trains between Berkovitsa, Montana and Boichinovtsi have been changed in such a way as to facilitate connections with fast trains to Sofia and Vidin.
International train journeys made easier
BDZ EAD and German railways (DB) have agreed on the provision of access to the German system for seat reservation and ticketing in international passenger trains. Thus, BDZ will provide its customers with seat reservations and tickets in the high quality trains in European as well, including the French TGV, the Spanish Talgo, the German ICE and the Eurostar trains. Bulgarian passengers will also benefit from the low-cost offers of Railteam, which include discounts for travel between the main European cities. Three of the offices of the “Rila” Railway ticket agency – in Sofia, Ruse and Burgas – function as agencies of DB and will make reservations for international trains in Europe.
Ambassadors meet about Danube Bridge 2
On 2nd November, the Deputy Minister of Transport, Information Technologies and Communications Ivaylo Moskovski, met the ambassadors of Spain and Romania, Jorge Fuentes and Anton Pacuretu and discussed with them the progress of Danube Bridge 2 construction works at Vidin-Kalafat. The meeting was attended by the representative of the Spanish contractor for the project FCC Construccion, Alberto Vergada. Deputy Minister Moskovski announced that Bulgaria has approached the European Commission with the request for an extension of the term for the memorandum under ISPA, according to which the final deadline for the construction of the bridge is 2010. Advance agreement has been reached to extend this deadline by one year.
Ivaylo Moskovski receives TRACECA Secretary General
The Deputy Minister of Transport, Information Technologies and Communications Ivaylo Moskovski (who is also National Secretary for TRACECA in Bulgaria) met the Secretary General of the Permanent Secretariat of TRACECA Intergovernmental Commission, Jotoro Satibaldiev, and discussed with him the development of the organisation and the pending reforms (changes in the mandate term of the Secretary General and in the structure of the Permanent Secretariat).
PTC with a project under Leonardo da Vinci Programme
The Professional Training Centre (PTC) of BDZ EAD has become the first division of the company to successfully implement a project under the international Leonardo da Vinci programme. The project theme is “The harmonization of professional training in railway transport with European standards”. The project is implemented in partnership with the relevant structures of the German railways and several Bulgarian educational institutions in the transport sphere.
Deputy Minister Kichev opens the common border station at Dimitrovgrad
On 4th November, the Deputy Minister of Transport, Kamen Kichev, opened the reconstructed common border station Dimitrovgrad (Serbia). The project, funded with EU funds, is part of Trans-European Corridor X and is a priority project for both Bulgaria and Serbia. The Deputy Minister pointed out that Bulgaria and Serbia are working for the establishment of the Corridor as one of the most important transit axes for the transport of freight from Central Asia via Bulgaria and Serbia to Central and Western Europe. In order to achieve this aim, it is necessary to reach the full capacity and speed of the railway route. The opening ceremony was attended by the Serbian Deputy Minister of Infrastructure, Dejan Lasica, and the EU representative in Belgrade, Vincent Degert.
Modernisation of infrastructure as guarantee for prosperity
The University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy (UACEG) hosted the annual international scientific conference. It was held on 29th-31st October under the motto “We build the infrastructure of Bulgaria”. The participants were welcomed by the Minister of Regional Development and Public Works, Rosen Plevneliev, the Rector of UACEG, Assoc. Prof. Dobrin Denev, the Chairman of the UACEG Board of Trustees Pavel Dikovski, the Director of the Gradat Media Group (media partner of the conference), Veneta Krasteva and the Chairman of the Investment Project Engineers, Stefan Kenarev. The main topics of discussion at the conference were “Transport construction and geo-engineering”, “Infrastructure projects and the regulatory framework”, “Construction”, “Architecture and urban planning”, “Water engineering”, “Geodesy, cartography and remote control methods”, “Mathematics and physics”.
Minister Tsvetkov participates in a railway exhibition in Germany
Minister Aleksandar Tsvetkov participated in the international exhibition for railway transport “Rail 2009”, held on 10th November in Dortmund. The exhibition, which is held every two years, is of particular importance for the economic development of the railways and the outlining of transport policy in Europe. This year the motto was “Transport. Traffic. Talks”. Among the topics of discussion were the implementation of innovative transport concepts, the development of the potential for the launch of new technologies, current market trends. Within the framework of the exhibition, the Seventh International summit of European Ministers of Transport and the managers of the European railway companies was held. Among the main issues under discussion were “Comparison between European Metropolitan cities – the role of public transport”, “Sea ports as the gate to Europe”, “Mobile Europe”, etc. Minister Tsvetkov met the State Secretary for Transport, Prof. Klaus-Dieter Scheurle, and discussed with him bilateral cooperation in the sphere of railway transport. Together with the Minister of Construction and Transport of North Rhine-Westphalia, Lutz Lienenkämper, perspectives for bilateral relations in the sphere of combined services and logistics were discussed.
The first large project under OPT launched
The Minister of Transport, Information Technologies and Communications, Aleksandar Tsvetkov, has announced the launch of the tender procedure for the selection of a contractor for the “Rehabilitation of railway infrastructure along the sections of Plovdiv-Burgas railway line” project. This is the first large-scale project under the Operational Programme “Transport” which has now begun. Its tentative budget is BGN366.45 million, 64% of which is funded with grant funding from the EU Cohesion Fund and 36% is funded by the national budget. This line section is part of Trans-European Corridor VIII. The project implementation will improve the development of the main line infrastructure and will enhance the integration of the national transport network with the European one. After the project’s completion, trains will operate at speeds of 130/160 km/h, while the average speed at the moment is 80 km/h. Journey times between Plovdiv and Burgas will be reduced by more than an hour. The effect of external economic benefits from the project implementation is BGN1. 529 billion.
OHL ZS to construct noise-protection barriers
The Czech company OHL ZS, which is building the Svilengrad-Turkish border line section under the project for the reconstruction and electrification of the Plovdiv-Svilengrad line, plans to erect noise-protection walls in the Svilengrad region. These barriers will be combined with rows of vegetation under the so-called “whispering train” programme which will reduce the noise from the trains, operating at 160 km/h. Special underpasses and overpasses will be constructed as well to facilitate line crossing.
TIR trucks to be transported by trains?
According to NRIC Director General, Milcho Lambrev, some of the Turkish TIR trucks, which operate transit via Bulgarian territory along the Svilengrad-Dragoman route, will be transported by trains. The necessary terminal facility for the loading and unloading of trucks to and from trains at Svilengrad is in place. By December, the project for such a terminal in Dragoman will be ready, while the construction works themselves should be completed by mid-2010. According to Lambrev, BDZ has two platforms for mounting the trucks on to wagons and is preparing to rent the special Ro-La wagons.
Work design for Svilengrad-Turkish border to be finalised
The work design, on the basis of which will be issued the construction permit for the 17-kilometre-long section between Svilengrad and the Turkish border (part of the project for reconstruction and electrification of the Plovdiv-Svilengrad line) will be ready by end-2009. Contractor for this project (which costs BGN70 million and should be complete by end-2011) is the Czech company OHL ZS AD. The concept design was elaborated in cooperation with Sudop Prague.
Projects for over EUR1 billion under OPT in 2010
At the seventh meeting of the Monitoring Committee of Operational Programme “Transport”, the Deputy Minister of Transport, Ivaylo Moskovski, stated that in the first half of 2010 it is expected that transport projects for over EUR1 billion will be prepared. The application forms for the design of the Vidin-Sofia line, the modernisation of the Sofia-Plovdiv line, the renovation of railway infrastructure along the Sofia-Burgas line and the construction of an intermodal terminal facility in Sofia should be submitted by June.
Freight volumes go up, passenger numbers drop
According to the National Statistics Institute, freight volumes by train in October are 20% more in comparison with September, reaching 1.203 million tons. The increase is due to the more intensive domestic traffic. In comparison with the same period in 2008, freight volumes have dropped by 30.7 % of which the drop in domestic transports is by 410 thousand tons. Passenger numbers in October were 2.707 million, i.e. 0.5% less than in September and by 8.6 % less than in the same period in 2008.