Port of Koper, source: Luka Koper

Port of Koper: the new line to Divaca will be a double-track

Image: Luka Koper

The new rail section connecting the Slovenian port of Koper with Divaca will have a double track. The new project is expected to divert significant volumes from the road to a new, modern rail connection that can provide shorter transit times and higher capacity on the route. The 27-kilometre Divača-Koper railway section will allow speeds of up to 160 kilometres per hour.

The Koper-Divaca line is quite important when it comes to the TEN-T project. The section is, in fact, part of not one, but two TEN-T corridors: The Baltic-Adriatic and the Mediterranean. The Slovenian government had to pick one out of three variants for the second track project presented by Luka Koper, the company managing the port of Koper. The three options were presented in 2021 and a decision was made at the end of January.

The port of Koper is the only Slovenian port and is one of the three most important ports on the Adriatic sea together with Trieste, in Italy, and Rijeka, in Croatia. All the port’s terminals are equipped with a rail connection. The port of Koper is also the first container terminal in the Adriatic with over one million TEUs handled in 2022.

Divača-Koper railway. Photo: Slovenian government
Image: © Slovenian Government

The government chose the greenest variant

The option selected by the government was the second variant proposed by Luka Koper. Despite being the most expensive of the three variants, according to the Slovenian government, this choice has the lowest environmental impact. As Luka Koper specified “an additional left track would be built next to the already installed second track, and the existing track between Koper and Prešnica would be discontinued”.

As the Slovenian Ministry of Environment and Space pointed out, this option would avoid interfering with the area of ​​the Rižana water source. Moreover, Luka Koper claimed this option would have a lower risk of fires and significantly reduce noise pollution. As part of the project, moreover, the current line between Koper and Presnica will be dismantled and replaced with a cycling path.

Modernising the rail infrastructure while refurbishing the old one for cycling seems to be the Slovenian modus operandi in recent times. A similar initiative was in fact launched for the construction of the Pekel Tunnel, between Maribor and Sentilj, near the border with Austria. One of the innovations of this tunnel will be the ballastless track, provided by Slab Track Austria; a company specialised in these kinds of projects. The Pekel Tunnel, which should be opened by the end of this year, will replace the Pocehova tunnel, which will be reserved for cycling.

The other two discarded options

The first variant presented by Luke Koper entailed a new second single track between Koper and Divaca as well as the upgrade of the section between Koper and Presnica. As the company underlined, this option would have relatively low costs and would not cause further invasion of the Rosandra valley on the border with Italy. However, this option presented high risks of water pollution. The third variant presented to the government would have ensured the building of a second track and an additional left track between Koper and Divaca. In addition, this option would include maintaining the section between Koper and Presnica. According to Luka Koper, “in terms of environmental impact, this would be the worst choice”.

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Author: Marco Raimondi

Marco Raimondi is an editor of RailFreight.com, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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