Bulgaria tenders hub terminal construction on shared corridor with Greece

Image: Flickr. Konstantin Planinski

The Bulgarian National Railway Infrastructure Company (NRIC) has launched a tender for the technical design and construction of an intermodal terminal in Ruse. The tender amounts to approximately 27 million euros, and the new terminal will have a key role in a developing rail freight corridor with Greece.

Ruse is located in the Bulgarian north, on the bank of the river Danube and the border with Romania. The city is home to a riverport – the largest Danube port in Bulgaria- serving both river and sea vessels. The port’s east terminal also has a railway connection to the main Bulgarian railway network.

The port of Ruse is basically a port complex, including other locations along the Danube river. The site is generally attractive in terms of logistics since it is next to Romania and can become a border crossing hub while also bringing three transport modes together: rail, sea and road.

However, most importantly, the site and the new intermodal rail terminal will not only contribute to cross-border rail between Bulgaria and Romania. In fact, they will be part of a larger project.

Aerial view of part of Ruse’s port complex. Image: © Пристанищен комплекс – Русе ЕАД.

Greece-Bulgaria freight corridor

A joint railway project between Greece and Bulgaria that surfaced in April 2022 seems to be the primary motive for building an intermodal terminal in Ruse, considering that the port’s terminals are already served by rail.

Specifically, the Sea2Sea project aims to build a railway line between the Greek port of Thessaloniki and Ruse in Bulgaria. The line will pass through the greek ports of Kavala and Alexandroupolis before crossing the border with Bulgaria to reach the ports of Burgas and Varna and, finally, Ruse. Greece is currently investing roughly three billion euros to complete the needed railway infrastructure leading to Bulgaria.

The proposed railway line between Greece -Bulgaria. Image: © GoogleMaps.

On the Bulgarian side, constructing the intermodal terminal in Ruse is a top priority. The country is also streamlining other infrastructure investments, pointing towards the country’s west in the direction of Serbia. At the same time, NRIC and Turkish Railways have agreed to double the freight volumes transiting via rail between the two, showcasing that Bulgaria’s rail logistic potential is growing.

However, the joint project with Greece is about bypassing Turkey and the Bosporus strait. “This is a project of geostrategic importance”, stressed Greek transport minister Konstantinos Karamanlis a few months ago, “since it will boost rail freight traffic and volumes in the region”.

“With these rail developments, Thessaloniki will become a gateway for transport through Southeastern Europe, while the port of Alexandroupolis will become increasingly important. There are possibilities to even extend this line towards North Sea ports,” he added.

Finally, ERGOSE, a subsidiary of Hellenic Railways, stressed the geostrategic and logistical value of the Sea2Sea mega project. “By the time the project is delivered, it could draw a considerable percentage of containerised cargo traditionally transiting via Bosporus. The shift from sea to rail could amount to 650 million euros with of cargo per year,” highlighted the company.

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Author: Nikos Papatolios

Nikos Papatolios is the Chief Editor of RailFreight.com, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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