The new policy of OSJD is for proactive cooperation with Europe


The jubilee 34th session of the Meeting of ministers from OSJD member countries outlined an ambitious programme for the forthcoming year, when the 35th session will be hosted by the Ukraine. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the organisation, all participants in the international forum, held in our country, expressed the uniform opinion that the future policy of the organisation should aim at the continuation of close cooperation with the other large European organisation – the UIC.


This position was confirmed by the Chairman of the OSJD Committee, Tadeusz Szozda, who pointed out the documents under revision – the Agreement for International Railway Freight Services (SMGS) and the Agreement for International Railway Passenger Services (SMPS), the harmonisation of the two legislative transport systems – the Uniform Rules for the Contract for International Railway Freight Services (CIM) and the SMGS, as well as the Uniform Rules for the Contract for International Railway Passenger Services (CIV) and SMPS.


The underlying reason for the initiated revision of the regulatory basis is the liberalisation of European railways and the need for close coordination between the two systems, which will enable their efficient and synchronised functioning and will facilitate transport services between the two continents.


In his welcoming address, sent to the session, the Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev, highlighted the fact that Government policy is directed towards the establishment of Bulgaria’s image as a country with an economy which is open to the world. Therefore, the efforts aim at the elimination of existing barriers for the development of business, investment, trade and tourism. A necessary precondition for the accomplishment of this objective is the establishment of convenient, fast and safe transport communications. The establishment of a modern transport infrastructure is among the main Governmental priorities. Some of the measures to be adopted are the construction of new railway infrastructure and the reconstruction of the existing one, the construction and reconstruction of roads and highways, the concessioning of airports and ports, infrastructure enhancement and the organisation of work at border control points.


The large-scale restructuring and liberalisation of the railway sector made it necessary to introduce radical changes in Bulgaria, as was underlined by Minister, Petar Mutafchiev, in his opening speech. The ultimate objective is the enhancement of competitiveness, liberalisation of the market and its opening-up for private operators, which will improve service quality. The main priorities are the modernisation of railway infrastructure along the most important European and national lines, as well as the development of infrastructure for intermodal services, modernisation of rolling stock, enhancement of railway transport safety and security, establishment of an updated model for economic relations, improvement of the professional and administrative capacity of railway employees. The management team of the Transport Ministry takes clear account of the need for serious investment in the above. This requires a further concentration of efforts in the establishment of an updated model for economic relations in the sector, and active implementation of the public-private partnership with a view to attracting non-budget investment capital, as stated by Petar Mutafchiev in the context of further plans of our country. One of the PPP instruments is concessioning. It is envisaged that this will be applied to railway stations, terminals and other railway infrastructure facilities. The Railway Transport Act and the related secondary regulatory basis will be amended and further developed. New options to attract private capital will also be considered. Among them are the establishment of joint ventures with state participation in the spheres of infrastructure, transport and forwarding services.


In accordance with the validated ‘Scheme of main OSJD Corridors for Europe – Asia traffic’ the improvement of railway services along the Corridors becomes more and more important. Bulgaria is actively involved in this scheme – our country participates in three out of thirteen OSJD Corridors altogether. Thus, OSJD Corridor 6 coincides with Trans-European corridor IV with continuation to Asia via Turkey, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and China. Our country plays a vital role in Corridor 10 – TRACECA, which, via the Bulgarian ports of Varna and Bourgas, is linked with Trans-European Corridors IV, VII and VIII. On the territory of our country, OSJD Corridor 12, which goes via Moldova and Romania, coincides with the route Rousse-Bourgas, which is part of Trans-European Corridor IX, including its branches to Rousse and Varna.


Currently, the OSJD is concentrating its efforts upon the development of a number of corridors – 1, 9 and 11 – for which it has elaborated a detailed concept. The longest of these corridors – Corridor 1 – goes across 11 countries: Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Byelorussia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, China, Mongolia and the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea. Along the route of Corridor 1 there are 38 terminals and the tendency is for an increase in their number by 2010, when the already-elaborated strategy for the development of the above corridors should be implemented. The shortest corridor – Corridor 9 – is 845 km long and goes via three countries: Byelorussia, Lithuania and Russia. This is the shortcut between the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, the port of Klaipeda and one of the most developed regions of the Russian Federation – the region of Kalinin. Only on Lithuanian territory there are four container terminals. The General Technical-Economic Plan till 2010 envisages that transport will increase by several times. Similar is the trend for Corridor 11 – between Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran. In the future, it is planned to modernise electrified sections, develop container services and telecommunications, enhance border control procedures and improve the technologies for the transport of dangerous goods.

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