EU invests in key Eastern Europe rail projects

Students from the Luben Karavelov School in Vidin celebrate the Vidin-Calafat Danube Bridge on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, on the border between Bulgaria and Romania. They wave three flags that symbolise the connections that link Bulgaria, Romania and the European Community who assisted in funding it's construction four years ago. The waters of the Danube separate Romania and Bulgaria by almost 500km at its widest point yet only one bridge crossed the river to connect the two countries until four years ago. It was in 2013 that a second bridge was opened between Calafat (Romania) and Vidin (Bulgaria), replacing the ferry-boats that used to link the two cities. Funded with a 70 million euro grant from the Cohesion Fund; the bridge was the fruition of a project between the two countries dating from 1925. The bridge provides a timely road and rail connection between the two member states, as well as an alternative to the bridge between Giurgiu (Romania) and Ruse (Bulgaria). The 2 km bridge is part of the Pan-European Transport Corridor IV, allowing for a drive to Greece without leaving the European Union. The project has stimulated the collaboration between the two countries, paving the way for further infrastructure projects over the Danube. The students are Darina Dimitrova, Alexandra Angelova, Ilia Iliev, Slavyani Hristov, Alex Ivanov, Vanina Dancheva, Georgy Vladimirov, Nikolay Milenov, Silvia Slaveykova, Yoanna Kamenova, Vanessa Borissova. (Valentina Petrova/AP Images for ESN)Students from the Luben Karavelov School in Vidin celebrate the Vidin-Calafat Danube Bridge on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, on the border between Bulgaria and Romania. They wave three flags that symbolise the connections that link Bulgaria, Romania and the European Community who assisted in funding it's construction four years ago. The waters of the Danube separate Romania and Bulgaria by almost 500km at its widest point yet only one bridge crossed the river to connect the two countries until four yea

Rail freight will be the beneficiary of nearly two billion Euros of funding into strategic rail links in Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania.

The first project will see the European Union’s Cohesion Fund provide 1.3 billion Euros for the modernisation of the rail corridor from Curtici, on the border between Romania and Hungary, and Constanța, by the Black Sea.

Infrastructure

Works will focus on significantly increasing speed and safety on the section between Curtici and Simeria, upgrading 13 train stations on the line, improving signalling and information systems and building key infrastructure like tunnels and bridges.

Corina Cretu, European Commissioner for Regional policy Corina Crețu said: Each euro from the EU budget invested in this railway enhances territorial cohesion and economic competitiveness in Romania, further connects the country with Hungary and the rest of Europe and ensures clean, fast and safe mobility. That’s a project with 65 per cent EU co-financing and 100 per cent EU value added.”

TEN-T corridors

The connection is part of both the Orient-East Med and Rhine-Danube corridors of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T), crossing Romania from West to East. Several sections have been or are currently being financed with other EU funds, such as the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) and European Investment Bank funding.

A further 471.5 million Euros is also being spent on the section of line between Elin Pelin and Kostenets in western Bulgaria. Crucially, it is part of the high speed line between the capital Sofia and Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s second biggest city, and also on the Orient-East Med TEN-T corridor.

Seamless

“Seamless railway connections for passengers and freight will boost regional development in Bulgaria, and contribute to building a competitive and low-carbon economy in the country for the next generations. I’m glad that the EU Cohesion Fund can be a part of it,” added Corina Cretu.

More than 100 million Euros has already been invested by the Cohesion Fund in the Sofia-Plovdiv line in the 2007-2013 funding period, to build the rail infrastructure between Septemvri and Plovdiv. The Kostenets-Septemvri section is currently being financed by up to 151.5 million Euros from the CEF.

Author: Simon Weedy

Simon is a journalist for RailFreight.com - a dedicated online platform for all the news about the rail freight sector

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