Bulgaria's Ailing Railways Get Tough, Raise RevenuesBusiness | August 19, 2011, Friday // 18:26| views
Bulgaria's railways have seen a growth in ticket revenues thanks to vigorous on board inspections targetting free-riders. Photo by BGNES
Bulgaria's troubled state railway company BDZ has managed to increase its revenues from ticket sales by boosting its travel inspections and policing.
In January-July 2011, BDZ's revenues from the sale of tickets on board of trains grew by almost 11% compared with the same period of 2010, while in July alone, the respective revenues rose by 14%, the company announced Friday.
"As a result of the constant measures that the BDZ EAD Holding is implementing in order to reduce to the minimum the free-riding, we have registered a decline in the number of free-riders," BDZ said.
The measures in question feature primarily surprise inspections and policing campaigns on board of trains. In the first 7 months of 2011, a total of 8 873 trains were inspected all over the country, while in July alone the inspections were 1 178. The company has punished 117 of its conductors and other staff for failing to exert control on free-riding passengers.
"BDZ Holding will continue its uncompromising actions to restrict free-riding as much as possible. Free-riding passengers who subsequently refuse to pay their fines will not be allowed to board trains any more," the state company has vowed.
Bulgaria's state-owned passenger railway operator BDZ has been traditionally in a horrendous financial condition in the past 20 years. At present, it hopes to get a loan of BGN 460 M, together with a loan of BGN 160 M for the National Company "Railway Infrastructure", from the World Bank for badly needed reforms.
However, the reform attempts have been countered by the trade unions as they threatened to lead to massive layoffs of the state-employed railway workers. Thus, in March 2011, the government was forced by an imminent railway strike to back out of some of its reform plans.
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