Road and Railway Infrastructure

Road and Railway Infrastructure
Countries

A network of international highways connects Bulgaria to Western Europe, Russia, Asia Minor, the Adriatic, the Aegean, and the Black Sea.

The European corridors No. 4 (from Germany to Istanbul), No. 7 (Rhine, Main, and Danube), No. 8 (from Durres, Albania to Varna), No. 9 (from Helsinki, Finland to Alexandropoulos, Greece) and No. 10 (from Salzburg, Austria to Thessaloniki, Greece) pass through the territory of Bulgaria.

According to the 2013 annual statistics published by the National Statistical Institute, the total length of the country’s road network managed by the Road Infrastructure Agency is 19,678 km, which includes 605 km of designated motorways, 2,975 km of category I roads, 4,035 km of category II roads, and 12,063 km of category III roads. In addition, there are approximately 20,000 km of category IV roads, which are managed by the respective municipalities. Road transportation across most of the country relies primarily on two-lane roads. The main transport corridors are Corridor No. 10 Kalotina-Svilengrad linking Serbia to Turkey, Corridor No. 4 Vidin-Sofia-Kulata linking Romania to Greece, Corridor No. 9 Ruse-Kazanlak-Kardzhali linking Romania to Greece and Turkey and Corridor No. 8 Kyustendil-Burgas-Varna linking Macedonia to the port of Varna.

Development plans focus on upgrades and investments, particularly of motorways, to further integrate the country’s road system into the international network. According to data from the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works, priority road infrastructure projects in Bulgaria until 2020 include construction of 620 km of motorways (Maritsa, Struma, Kalotina, Hemus and Black Sea motorways) and construction/rehabilitation of speedways, two new bridges over the Danube River and the construction of Shipka Tunnel. The total budget for the planned road infrastructure projects listed above (excluding the two bridges) is estimated to amount to EUR 5,209 million until 2020. Financing sources for the planned infrastructure projects include Operational Program Transport and Operational Program Regional Development (European Union (EU) financing), the state budget, state investment loans, financing from the European Investment Bank and the World Bank.

In 2013, the second bridge on the Danube River at Vidin – Kalafat and the last section of the Trakia motorway were completed. The Trakia motorway is the first entirely completed motorway in Bulgaria with a total length of 360 km.

The motorway network continued to develop in 2015 with the completion of Lot 2 and Lot 4 of Struma motorway and Lot 1 and Lot 2 of Maritsa motorway. In addition, the construction of Sofia’s northern bypass highway commenced in early 2015. The bypass is expected to cost EUR 120 million and will connect four motorways – Trakia, Hemus, Lyulin and Kalotina, and three pan-European corridors – No. 4, No. 8 and No. 10.

Bulgaria’s railroad network includes about 4,070 km of railway lines. Some 71.2% of them are electrified and 24.5% are double-track. The majority of the network is designed to support a running speed of up to 100 km per hour, with only 150 km supporting a speed of up to 130 km per hour.

Following the failed attempt for privatization of the state owned rail company BDZ Tovarni prevozi EOOD in 2013, the newly elected government announced in November 2014 its intentions to launch another process for the sale of the company.

Priority railway infrastructure projects in the country until 2020 include rehabilitation, overhaul and modernization works of more than 400 km of the existing railway infrastructure and construction of new high-speed railroads in the following directions – Sofia-Plovdiv-Burgas, Sofia-Vidin, Plovdiv-Svilengrad-Turkish border, Sofia-Dragoman, Sofia-Pernik-Radomir, Mezdra-Gorna Oryahovitsa, Sofia intermodal terminal and railroad junction and others. The total budget for the planned railroad infrastructure projects as listed above is estimated to amount to EUR 4,671 million, which will be financed mainly by EU funds and the state budget. The majority of the planned works on the Sofia-Plovdiv-Burgas and Plovdiv-Svilengrad-Turkish border high-speed railroad lines were completed in 2014 and 2015.

In August 2013, Sofia Municipality presented a draft of the third metro diameter project which is expected to cost EUR 680 million. According to Sofia Municipality, currently 280,000 people use the subway network daily and their number is expected to increase up to 550,000 people daily by 2020. The last sections of the Sofia first and second metro diameter were completed in 2015, while the construction of the third metro diameter started in 2015.

The Croatian authorities have invested heavily in developing the country’s pan-European transport network. This has been achieved primarily through public funding, focusing mainly on roads/motorways and ports. With the construction of 670 kilometres of new motorways between 2001 and 2009, the motorway network is now almost complete and in line with EU standards. The port sector has also been a focus of policy makers, with investments to upgrade port capacities in the two main international ports of Rijeka and Ploce, as well as in the smaller ports of Dubrovnik, Zadar, and Sibenik. Prior to the global financial crisis, freight volumes almost doubled, with international transport representing half of total freight traffic. This was followed by a sharp decline, since 2008, due to the global economic uncertainties

  • 221 km mature new priority road building projects at around EUR 2.9 bn
  • Corridor Vc Bosanski Samac (BA) – Doboj (BA) – Sarajewo (BA) – Mostar(BA) – Bijaca (HR-border)
  • Vukoslavlje -Karuse – Banlozi  (BA)
  • Corridor VIII Tirana/Durres (AL) – Elbasan (AL) – Struga (MK) – Tetovo (MK) -Skopje (MK) – Deve Bair (BG-border)
  • Corridor X Batrovci (HR-border) – Belgrade (RS) – Niš (RS) – Skopje (MK)- Bogorodica (GR-border)
  • Strazevica -Bubanj Potok (Belgrade bypass, RS)
  • Corridor Xb Subotica (HU-border) – Novi Sad (RS) – Belgrade (RS)
  • Corridor Xc Niš (RS) – Gradina (BG-border)
  • Route 1 Debeli Brijeg (HR-border) – Bar (ME)
  • Route 2 Podgorica (ME) – Durres (AL) – Fier (AL) – Tepelena (AL) – QafëBotë (GR-border)
  • Route 2a Gradiska (HR-border) – Banja Lika (BA) – Lašva-Travnik (BA)
  • Route 4 Vršac (RO-border) – Belgrade (RS) – Podgorica (ME) – Bar (ME) Podgorica -Mateševo (ME)
  • Route 6 Pristina (XK) – Skopje (MK)
  • Route 7 Lezhë (AL) – Pristina (XK) – Doljevac/Niš (RS) Pristina-Merdare (XK)
  • 189 km mature new priority rail building projects at around EUR 1.1 bn
  • Corridor Vc Bosanski Samac (BA) – Sarajewo – Mostar – Caplijina (BA)
  • Corridor VIII Skopje (MK) – Deve Bair (BG-border) Beljakovce-BGborder – KicevoAL-border(MK)
  • Corridor X Sid (RS) – Belgrade – Niš – Skopje (MK) – Gevgelija (GR-border)
  • Corridor Xb Kelebija (HU-border) – Novi Sad (RS) – Stara Pazova/Belgrade(RS)
  • Corridor Xc Niš (RS) – Dimitrovgrad (BG-border)
  • Route 2 Podgorica (ME) – Durres/Tirana (AL)
  • Route 4 Vrsac (RO-border) – Belgrade (RS) – Podgorica (ME) – Bar (ME)
  • Route 10 Krusevac (RS) – Kraljevo (RS) – Pristina (XK) – Skopje (MK) Fushe Kosove (XK) – MK-border

Motorway expansion in Albania and Kosovo was mainly financed by the state but also benefited from relatively strong economic growth and the corresponding inflows into the public budget. Both countries also withstood the international financial crisis and avoided recession due to their low dependence on exports. An additional growth factor was the low initial level of GDP per capita before the recovery process started. Currently, this is still up to one-third lower than in the other countries of the region. A substantial, not negligible, factor which has contributed to robust growth in Albania and Kosovo is actually the infrastructure-building activity itself. This is also reflected in a significantly higher investment share. The gross capital formation in relation to GDP in Albania and Kosovo was close to 30% over the last decade while it was closer to 20% in the other countries of the region. Finally, it can be stated that it has been conducive to the development of infrastructure in the Balkans so far when stable governments have actively pursued a cross-border agenda within the framework of a central state structure. In order to have similar success, even in those countries of the Western Balkans which have only weak governments and complex state structures, even more regional cooperation under the aegis of the EU will be required. The primary goal must be to overcome both national administrative borders as well as those between countries in terms of infrastructure.

The reconstruction of the section of the railway towards Bar in Montenegro through Serbia will begin by the end of the year and it will be funded from the Russian loan worth USD 200 million. A total of 200 kilometres of the road through Serbia will be repaired and this will require at least a year-long work. Planned speeds for the railway range from 80 to 100 kilometres per hour, which is much faster than the current average train speed which totals around 40 kilometres per hour.

Over the next four years some 1100 km of roads should be reconstructed, as part of the Project of Rehabilitation and safety improvement on the roads in Serbia. The project envisages that 55 sections of the traffic infrastructure be rehabilitated by 2019, mostly the parts destroyed in last year’s floods. According to government sources, in the first year 260km should be reconstructed, and the works are expected to start at the end of this month. In the first public call the national companies have got the job, and the main contractor is the company “Serbian roads”.

The Serbian Government has provided 116 million euro for this project; the World Bank has granted the credit of 74 million; while the EIB and EBRD have granted 100 million each. The government stands behind this endeavor, because the rehabilitation of the roads also entails the higher level of safety in traffic. In that regard, the expectation is that by 2019 the number of traffic accidents with lethal outcomes be reduced by 10%.

In the next ten days the public call will be published for the construction of another section of the Corridor 10 in the length of eight kilometers.

Among 140 countries, Serbia is ranked 114th for the competitiveness of its road infrastructure, because 75% of the network is in bad shape. The announced project envisages the annual rehabilitation of some 200 km, which is barely 10% of the entire infrastructure. In order to bring the whole network up to the European standard, the investment of 900 million euro is required.

Motorway expansion in Albania and Kosovo was mainly financed by the state but also benefited from relatively strong economic growth and the corresponding inflows into the public budget. Both countries also withstood the international financial crisis and avoided recession due to their low dependence on exports. An additional growth factor was the low initial level of GDP per capita before the recovery process started. Currently, this is still up to one-third lower than in the other countries of the region. A substantial, not negligible, factor which has contributed to robust growth in Albania and Kosovo is actually the infrastructure-building activity itself. This is also reflected in a significantly higher investment share. The gross capital formation in relation to GDP in Albania and Kosovo was close to 30% over the last decade while it was closer to 20% in the other countries of the region. Finally, it can be stated that it has been conducive to the development of infrastructure in the Balkans so far when stable governments have actively pursued a cross-border agenda within the framework of a central state structure. In order to have similar success, even in those countries of the Western Balkans which have only weak governments and complex state structures, even more regional cooperation under the aegis of the EU will be required. The primary goal must be to overcome both national administrative borders as well as those between countries in terms of infrastructure.

Bar – Boljare Highway Project is a key infrastructure highway project led by the Ministry of Transportation and Maritime Affairs. After its construction, the highway shall become incorporated into international road network, connecting several countries in Central Europe. According to the plan of the Government of Montenegro, the most difficult section Smokovac-Matesevo will be constructed first. The length of the route of the highway is 40.871 km, and national road standards of Montenegro are adopted, with reference to the European specifications as well. These construction standards will be applied for the two-way four-lane highway, with the speed of 100km/h according to the design, and the construction period of 4 years. The highway stretches from south to the north across the mountains. In technical terms it is very demanding, and the construction is very challenging. Bridges and tunnels make up to about 60% of the entire route. In recent years, it is the largest infrastructure project in Montenegro, and the implementation of the project is very challenging.

Smokovac-Matesevo Highway project is another successful example of cooperation between China and Eastern Europe, and it has strong support from the leaders of the two countries and their governments, so that Chinese Exim Bank provided an excellent loan for the project. The highway is expected to be opened for traffic in 2019, after that, travel time from the capital city Podgorica to the northern city of Kolasin will be shortened to about 30 minutes, which will make the half hour ride away towns enter the capital city’s economic circle. For the development of tourism, travel and other transportation of Montenegrin people, the highway will play a very important role, driving overall economic development of the entire country of Montenegro.