BGN 1.3 billion to be invested in Bulgarian railway infrastructure by 2014
Posted: 6 February 2012 | | No comments yet
The State Enterprise ‘National Railway Infrastructure Company’ (NRIC) has been established by the Law on Railway Transport – a law which came into force from 1 January 2002. The company is with a statute of a state-owned entity as per the meaning of the Trade Act. The company is registered in the Register of the Sofia City Court…
The State Enterprise ‘National Railway Infrastructure Company’ (NRIC) has been established by the Law on Railway Transport – a law which came into force from 1 January 2002. The company is with a statute of a state-owned entity as per the meaning of the Trade Act. The company is registered in the Register of the Sofia City Court...
The State Enterprise ‘National Railway Infrastructure Company’ (NRIC) has been established by the Law on Railway Transport – a law which came into force from 1 January 2002. The company is with a statute of a state-owned entity as per the meaning of the Trade Act. The company is registered in the Register of the Sofia City Court.
NRIC is the Infrastructure Manager of the railway infrastructure network of Republic of Bulgaria. The main activities of the company are:
- Ensuring the use of the railway infra – structure by licensed operators at uniform conditions
- Performing of activities for development, repair, maintenance and operation of the railway infrastructure
- Collecting of infrastructure access charges in amounts as defined by the Council of Ministers of Republic of Bulgaria
- Elaborating of the trains’ timetables in coordination with the operators, whereas for passenger trains – in coordination also with the municipalities
- Management of the trains operation on the railway infrastructure while observing the safety, reliability and security requirements
- Accepting and fulfilling of all orders result – ing from the obligations for public services
- Elaborating, maintaining and preserving of a register with data about the land and the objects of the railway infrastructure
NRIC is a holder of a safety certificate, confirming the implementation of the safety control system of the EU in accordance with Directive 2004/49/EC and the applicable national legislation. The certificate is with Identification Number BG2020080001 dated 15 December 2008, with a validity period of five years.
The railway infrastructure network of Republic of Bulgaria has the following characteristics:
- Total length of railway lines 3,973km (of which are 1,435mm gauge 3,848km; of which are 760mm gauge 125km)
- Electrified lines 2,871km
- Double-track lines 969km
- Number of railway stations 364
Current and future infrastructure projects
Within the framework of the current 2007–2013 programming period of the Operational Programme on Transport, the NRIC is implementing the following railway investment projects:
- The design-build project for the mod – ernisation of the railway section Septemvri–Plovdiv
- The project for the rehabilitation of the railway infrastructure along sections of Plovdiv–Burgas railway line
- The electrification and upgrading of the railway line Plovdiv–Svilengrad–Greek/ Turkish borders.
All application forms for financing of the works under the projects have been submitted to the European Commission in Brussels for approval. The application form for the Plovdiv–Burgas project was approved on 1 July 2011, while at the time of writing this article, it is expected that the application forms for the Septemvri– Plovdiv and Plovdiv–Svilengrad projects will be approved by the end of 2011.
Construction works for the section Mihaylovo–Kaloyanovets (part of the Plovdiv–Burgas project) were started on 14 September 2011. The start of the con struction works for the other sections of the project is imminent. The total value of the project is approximately BGN 317 million (VAT excluded). For the Septemvri–Plovdiv project, the 12-month design period is on-going. The total investment value is BGN 521 million (VAT excluded).
The Krumovo–Parvomai section of the Plovdiv–Svilengrad project has been 99% completed. For the Parvomai–Dimitrovgrad section of the same project the track works have been completed and some finishing works of the catenary system are being performed. At the time of writing this article, it is envisaged that both sections are to be completed and put into operation by the end of 2011. The works for the two sections are financed under the Programme ISPA and the total value is approximately BGN 313 million (VAT excluded).
The works along the Dimitrovgrad– Svilengrad–Greek border section of the same project are expected to start in the first quarter of 2012. This section will be financed under the Operational Programme on Transport and the total value is approximately BGN 406 million (VAT excluded).
The works along the Svilengrad–Turkish border section are being performed and it is expected that the section will be put into operation by the middle of 2012. Within this section a railway bridge is under construction over the Maritsa river with a length of 420m, thus being the second longest railway bridge under construction after the railway bridge over the Danube River at Vidin (Bulgaria)–Kalafat (Romania). The section is be financed under the Operational Programme on Transport and the total value is approximately BGN 70 million (VAT excluded).
For the projects that are implemented, NRIC is creating a new project management model. With reference to this a new project has been initiated with an initiative named ‘Jaspers’ and a consultant has been selected that is now elaborating the new model for management of infrastructure projects. The functional analysis of the current structure for management of the Operational Programme on Transport projects will be completed by the end of March 2012. In each application form there are envisaged to be up to 2% of the total investment for management and implementation of the relevant project.
At the time of writing this article, the ‘Strategic Development and Investment Projects Directorate’ at NRIC is dealing with both management of the Operational Programme on Transport at beneficiary level and the management of the projects themselves, which we consider inappropriate. Therefore it is envisaged to separate these two activities and the latter – the actual management and implementation of the projects will be distributed among Project Management and Implementation Units (PMIUs). Thus the decision making levels will be reduced – one project, one PMIU, one project manager, one team. The company’s expectations are that such a model will accelerate the activities for the projects and make them more precise. The PMIUs will act rather as business units that will be controlled by the administration. The remuneration level for the staff therein will be attractive with a view of including experienced experts. At the time of writing this article, the PMIUs will be established in November– December 2011. Six PMIUs in total will be established – each for one of the following projects: Plovdiv–Burgas, Septemvri–Plovdiv and Parvomai–Svilengrad–Greek/Turkish borders, that are at present under imple – mentation, and for the preparation of the Vidin–Sofia project, the remaining sections of Sofia–Plovdiv project and the sixth PMIU will be for the preparation of the projects Sofia–Dragoman, Sofia–Pernik–Radomir and part of Sofia railway junction, while we intend to complete the preparation until the end of this 2007–2013 programming period.
One of the main priorities for the next 2014–2020 programming period are the ‘green projects’ and ‘green transport’ projects – both include the railways. A totally new Connecting Europe Facility is being prepared, which will be for investments in infrastructure. It will include those ‘green projects’ that support the connecting of different countries with routes that are important for the European Union, that is, with top priority for the Community. It is possible for the Vidin–Sofia project to be implemented through the Connecting Europe Facility. It is now being discussed whether to include also road transport in this new programme, but in principle the main idea is to concentrate on ‘green transport’ to be included therein. The railway projects all over Europe do not have financial profitability (their internal rate of return is less than 5%). However, the economical rate of return that takes into consideration the preservation of human life, the reduction of accidents and the traffic jams and the protection of environment is high. The human life in Germany for example is valued at €6 million, while in Bulgaria this sum is equal to €600.000. If 30 big trucks travel across all of Europe they will cause higher indirect economical costs, but if the same journey is made on a block-train, the costs for the economy will be greatly minimised.
On the other hand, the accent in the new multi-year Programme TEN-T is the integration of different transport modes by combining of elements of road-rail, sea-rail or rail-air. In this respect, as part of the new transport policy of the European Union, it is envisaged to construct 10 intermodal terminals in Bulgaria: at Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna, Burgas, Russe, Lom, Gorna Oryahovitsa, Vidin, Dragoman and Svilengrad.
Taking into consideration the new elements in the European Union policy, the priority railway projects for which Bulgaria will apply for financing under the next 2014–2020 programming period are as follows: Vidin– Sofia, Sofia–Dragoman, Sofia–Pernik–Radomir, Sofia–Septemvri, as well as the construction of intermodal terminals in accordance with the strategy for development of the intermodal network in our country. The overall idea is by 2020 we are to have one completed direction towards the Serbian border– Sofia–Plovdiv–Svilengrad–Turkish/Greek border and Plovdiv–Burgas for a speed of 160km/h and fully compliant with the technical specifications for interoperability, i.e. with European parameters.
For the railway projects Vidin–Sofia and Sofia–Pernik–Radomir there are already feasibility studies, preliminary designs and a tender strategy. It is imminent to elaborate technical designs and to implement land acquisition procedures.
The technical specifications for the activities under the preparation of the Vidin–Sofia project are being elaborated, the same for the application form. The design activities are split into eight parts thus ensuring higher flexibility for decision-making. The real design activities for the project are forthcoming, therefore first a design manager will be selected, one of his tasks being to reduce the investment value of the project by 30% (the value now being €2.6 billion). The public procurement procedure for this consultant will be launched in early-2012.
Strategic development and investments
During 2012, the efforts of the company will be focused on activities for all the aforementioned projects. By the end of 2012, the construction of the intermodal terminal at Plovdiv will start at a value of approximately BGN 17 million.
The company’s intentions include for the present programming period feasibility studies, site selection and preliminary design for an intermodal terminal in Russe. The relevant application forms are now being prepared. The intermodal terminal of Russe will include three modes of transport – rail, road and river.
One of the priorities for the next year is to continue the preparation of the future projects, which are subject to negotiations for their inclusion in the financing framework of the European funds for the 2014–2020 programming period.
Our plans are for some BGN 1.3 billion to be invested in the railway infrastructure by 2014.
About the author
Milcho Lambrev has been General Director of NRIC since 2009. Prior to this, Milcho held numerous positions including Head of Capital Repairs Department, Director of Management of Property and Cadastre Directorate, Chief Engineer of Repair and Maintenance of the Railway Infrastructure Directorate, Head of Technical Servicing Directorate and Director of Railway Track Maintenance District. He is a member of the National Society of the Railway Track Engineers of Bulgaria, and a member of the Bulgarian Chamber of the Engineers in the Investment Designing.