In Brief


Retro train for International Children’s Day

On 1st June – International Children’s Day – BDZ EAD provided two hundred children from several primary schools with an attraction journey round Sofia with a steam locomotive and three retro coaches. The steam locomotive, adorned with the Bulgarian national flag and numerous flowers, was a source of sheer joy to the little passengers, who received special presents as well.


Railways need market-oriented behaviour

At the end of May, the Deputy Minister of Transport, Krassimira Martinova, presented to the Parliamentary transport commission the European Commission report on Bulgaria. The report points to the need of restructuring in railway transport and to the fact the BDZ EAD and NRIC have accumulated significant debts. In the course of discussion, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Transport Commission, Prof. Iordan Mirchev, stated that a new Railway Transport Act is necessary as it will regulate the further development of BDZ and will make the company more attractive for investors. According to the Deputy Minister Martinova, the attraction of investments depends largely on the extent to which business-oriented attitudes have been developed within BDZ. She supported the initiative of the company to launch an advertising campaign to attract more passengers.


The President to follow closely the construction of Danube bridge 2

During his visit to Vidin at the end of May, President Georgi Parvanov underlined that he personally undertakes the commitment to follow closely the implementation of infrastructure projects in North-West Bulgaria, including the construction of Danube bridge 2, the accelerated reconstruction and modernisation of the railway line Vidin-Sofia, as well as the port of Vidin.


Comfortable transport for disabled people

The Minister of Transport, Petar Mutafchiev, announced that this year will see the implementation of a programme for facilitating access for disabled people to all transport modes. Among the objectives of the programme is the construction of special facilities in the railway stations of Plovdiv, Varna and Bourgas.


Minister Mutafchiev to discuss transport issues in Luxembourg

On 9th June, the Minister of Transport, Petar Mutafchiev, took part in the session of the EU Council on “Transport, telecommunications and energy”, held in Luxembourg. The session discussed issues of rail, road, sea and air transport modes, as well as intermodal services. Among the topics for discussion was the revised draft Regulations of the European Parliament and the Council for Public Transport of Passengers in rail and road modes. In Luxembourg Minister Mutafchiev signed on behalf of Bulgaria the Agreement on common European aviation space.


International travel agency “Rila” launches new services

As of 1st June, Bulgarian State Railways through their subdivision – International travel agency “Rila” (“ITA Rila”) launched new services, including sales of bus tickets and the reservation of airline tickets, as well as the electronic issuing of railway tickets for international journeys. The first electronic ticket was issued by ITA “Rila” to the Minister of Transport, Petar Mutafchiev, during the official presentation of the new services of the agency in the presence of the Deputy Minister of Transport, Georgi Petarneichev, and the Executive Director of BDZ EAD, Oleg Petkov.


At the end of 2005, ITA “Rila” applied for licensing under the Tourism Law, and in February 2006 BDZ EAD received a Certificate for its registration as a travel agent. This enables “Rila” to offer transport services for road and air carriers, as well as tourist packages. Contracts have been concluded with a number of large road and air carriers for the sale of their tickets. Thanks to the information and ticketing system, developed jointly by the IT subdivision of BDZ EAD, the “Passenger services” division and ITA “Rila”, the agency is the first institution in Bulgaria which can issue electronic tickets in compliance with European RCT standards.


More passengers in BDZ’s new trains

In the first quarter of 2006 the number of BDZ passengers along the lines, operated by new Desiros has grown by 30% on average. The largest growth was seen in the suburban services on the Varna-Dobrich-Kardam line. Currently, 16 new diesel trainsets operate on the national railway network and serve 55 trains on seven line sections, which resulted in a 12% increase of company’s revenues.


BDZ EAD strives to renew rolling stock

Following the recommendation of the Minister of Transport, Petar Mutafchiev, BDZ EAD sent an enquiry to the railways of Germany, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria and Italy for the possibility to be included in their aid programmes or for the provision against payment under alleviated conditions and payment in arrears of second-hand or recycled passenger coaches. In Europe, there is such a practice to support railway companies in difficult financial situations.


Internet portal for visually-impaired users

On 4th June, the Transport Minister, Petar Mutafchiev, launched the Internet portal for visually-impaired users in the presence of the Executive Director of the Agency for Disabled People, Mincho Koralski. This is the first webpage of its kind in the state administration. It presents information on services, provided by the companies within the Ministry of Transport (including the railways), thereby facilitating the access of visually-impaired people to these services.


BDZ to lease 100 coaches

BDZ EAD is about to procure via leasing 100 second-class passenger coaches. These will be second-hand coaches, most of which (90%) will be without compartments. The delivery shall be effected in batches, while the final delivery term is ten years. The bidders can be both Bulgarian and foreign companies. Bids can be submitted as of 17th July, while the term for procurement of tender documentation is 6th July. The bids will be opened on 19th July and evaluated by a commission. Price will be regarded as one of the key factors.


A tunnel under Shipka – after 2012?

According to the Transport Minister, Petar Mutafchiev, the construction of a tunnel under Shipka peak has not been included in the European projects by 2012, as Trans-European Corridor IX is not considered as a priority by the EU. According to the Minister, this tunnel can be constructed if there is some solid public-private partnership and only after an in-depth analysis of its economic efficiency. Hitherto, the ministry has received no information about any serious investment interest in this project.


Discussion on the Montana - Berkovitsa railway line

The Deputy Minister of Transport, the Executive Director of BDZ EAD, Oleg Petkov, and the Director General of NRIC, Dimitar Gaidarov, took part in the public discussion under the motto “Should the Montana-Berkovitsa railway line be closed down?” held on 9th June in Montana. It is a well-known fact that the line is included in the list of those line sections of the Bulgarian railway network which incur the greatest losses to NRIC. Nevertheless, the Director General of NRIC undertook the commitment to provide BGN800,000 for the renovation of the line by mid-2007. In his turn, Oleg Petkov declared that after the renovation of the line, BDZ will commission new Desiros to operate along it.


NRIC will select a company to clean Central Station

NRIC launched a tender for the cleaning of Sofia Central Station. The assignment includes the cleaning of 42,000 of platforms, 8,824 of facades and 50,000 of tracks. The contractor will have to clean regularly the outside staircases, escalators, the pedestrian underpass, windows and WC facilities in the station. The contract term will be three years.


Legislative changes in the railways under discussion

On 29th June, the Parliamentary Transport and Telecommunications Committee organised a public discussion on “Legislative changes in the railways”. Among the attendants were the Minister of Transport, the general managers of BDZ EAD and NRIC, the state-owned company “Transport Construction and Reconstruction”, the Scientific and Technical Transport Union, the High Transport School “T. Kableshkov”, as well as representatives of the trade unions, the Association of Forwarders and Foreign Transport Enterprises in our country.


The presentation, delivered by the Committee Chairman, Prof. Iordan Mirchev, was entitled “Bulgarian railways – between survival and European perspectives”.


The House of Railway Workers in Plovdiv to be rebuilt

BDZ EAD launched a tender for the assignment of reconstruction work on the administrative building and the House of Railway workers in Plovdiv. The project is within the programme “Beautiful Bulgaria” and includes the renovation and repainting of facades as well as the replacement of the roof lining of drainage installation.


Environmental assessment for “Transport” Programme

The Ministry of Transport will perform environmental assessment of the Sector Operational Programme “Transport 2007-2013”. The Programme priorities are related to the development of the national transport infrastructure, including the construction of large-scale infrastructure projects. The implementation of the Programme will have a certain environmental impact. Therefore, the priorities and tasks, envisaged under the Programme, will be assessed with a view to the objectives of the National Environmental Strategy, the requirements for environmental protection and sustainable development.


Will capital city waste be transported by train?

The President Georgi Parvanov, the ministers of the Economy, Rumen Ovcharov; of the Environment, Dzhevdet Chakarov and of Transport, Petar Mutafchiev, as well as the Mayor of Sofia, Boiko Borissov, discussed the possibility of storing the waste of Sofia in an open mine in the region of Pernik. The mine is located at 50-60 km from Sofia and at a sufficient distance from any town or village. In the proximity of the mine there is a railway line. Therefore, the baled waste may be transported by trains and in the last section (6.5 km long), by trucks.


Special summer offers by BDZ

Bulgarian State Railways has introduced a 20% discount off the ordinary return fare for fast and express trains from Blagoevgrad, Kiustendil, Pernik, Sandanski, etc. to Varna and Bourgas. The offer is valid for the summer season – between 15th June and 30th September 2006. There are fifteen new routes, for which the railways offer the discount. With a view to enhancing service quality, BDZ has introduced a twenty-day advance sale of tickets and seat reservation for nine express and 32 fast trains to the Black Sea.


Incident with a freight train

A wagon from a freight train composition derailed on the line section between Gabarevo and Tuzha on 15th June. Train traffic between Karlovo and Tulovo was temporarily cancelled and the fast and express trains from Sofia via Karlovo to Bourgas were redirected via Plovdiv. BDZ provided buses for the transport of passengers in this line section for the whole period while train traffic was cancelled.


Corridor X is discussed in Greece

The Minister of Transport, Petar Mutafchiev, will take part in the meeting of transport ministers on cross-border cooperation within Pan-European Corridor X. The forum will take place on 15th-16th July on the Greek island of Corfu. It is expected that the meeting will adopt documents, facilitating the crossing of border control points of the countries located along Corridor X.


Stations along the Sofia-Kiustendil line to be rebuilt

According to the deputy Nenko Temelkov, four railway stations along the line between Sofia and Kiustendil will be reconstructed on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the line. The Ministry of Transport will allocate BGN200,000 for reconstruction works.


Half of this amount will be used for the renovation of stations at the villages of Dolni Rakovets and Galabnik, and the rest of the funding will cover reconstruction costs for the central station and the marshalling yard in Pernik.


Retro train for tourists in Rousse?

The Director of the National Centre for Museums, Galleries and Fine Arts within the Ministry of Culture, Rumen Ganchev, announced the concept for a retro train, which will transport tourists, visiting Rousse, from the port to the Museum of Transport in the city and then to rock-face monasteries in Ivanovo. At the end of June, the Museum of Transport will celebrate its 40th anniversary.


The Director General of AZD – Prague visited Sofia

The Director General of the Czech company AZD, Mr Zdenek Chrdle, visited Sofia at the end of June to meet the Chairman of the Parliamentary Transport and Telecommunications Committee, Prof. Iordan Mirchev, and the Minister of Transport, Petar Mutafchiev, and discussed with them possible new investments in Bulgarian transport. Mr Chrdle was accompanied by Mr Ivan Kovachev, Governor of the AZD’s subsidiary in our country – Balkant SAST. AZD is among the leading providers of signalling and telecommunication equipment for road and rail transport.

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