Bulgaria's Subway, Railway Expansions to Be Funded with EU Money

Business | December 8, 2011, Thursday // 15:45|  views

The metro link to Sofia Airport has trumped a Danube navigation project in the EU funding plans of the Bulgarian government. Photo by BGNES

Several major transport infrastructure projects in Bulgaria – including the expansion of the Sofia Metro to Sofia International Airport – will be funded with EU money from Operational Program Transport, the government announced.

Two of the other major projects include the rehabilitation of the Central Railway Station in Sofia and the construction of an intermodal transport terminal in Plovdiv, said Transport Minister Ivaylo Moskovski, after taking part in a meeting of the Bulgarian Committee for Supervision for implementation of Operational Program Transport in the town of Pravets.

The Committee sitting was also attended by Regional Development Minister Lilyana Pavlova, European Commission representatives, and officials from local authorities, project beneficiaries, NGOs, and syndicates.

The Committee decided to transfer EUR 110 M from Priority Axis 4 for improvement for navigation to Priority Axis 3 for improvement of intermodality of passenger and freight transport.

The funds in question were supposed to be used to expand the Danube waterway in a problematic spot between the islands of Batin and Belene.

However, Bulgaria and Romania have signed a joint declaration deciding to put off the Danube navigation improvement project in question for the next programming period (2014-2020), while still continuing to work on preliminary surveys.

Thus, Romania is going to keep up exploration works funded under the EU pre-accession program ISPA, and Bulgaria is setting aside EUR 10 M from Operational Program Transport to prepare the Danube waterway project for the next programming period.

At the same time, Bulgaria's National Company "Railway Infrastructure" has given up on the construction of an intermodal transport terminal in Sofia before 2013, and is leaving that project for the period after 2014.

Instead, it has decided to build an internmodal transport terminal in the southern city of Plovdiv.

The redirected funding will be used to finance the expansions of the Sofia Metro to Sofia International Airport (Metro Line 1), which is estimated to cost EUR 100 M, the rehabilitation of the Central Railway Station in Sofia – EUR 20 M, and the construction of the intermodal transport terminal in Plovdiv – EUR 7.5 M.

All of these projects are supposed to be completed by the end of 2014, according to the Bulgarian government.

Contracts for a total of EUR 1.7 B, or 87% of the budged of Operational Program Transport for Bulgaria for 2007-2013, have been made so far. The beneficiaries have been paid EUR 400 M, which is about 20% of the slated funding. The payment requests sent to the EC as of today provide for 23% of the programming period budget. Our balance shows that these requests in the past year are more than in all previous years of the current period," Transport Ministry Ivaylo Moskovski explained.

He pointed out that the Stara Zagora road junction funded by Operational Program Transport was completed in southern Bulgaria in October as part of the completion of Trakiya Highway.

"Over the summer of next year we will complete the projects for the modernization of the railway from Svilengrad to the border with Turkey, Lots 2 and 3 of Trakiya highway, and the new sections of the Sofia Metro," Moskovski said.

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Tags: Lilyana Pavlova, Regional Development Minister, European Commission, EC, operational program transport, Romania, waterway, navigation, danube, Stara Zagora, EU funds, Transport Ministry, Transport Minister, Central Railway Station, sofia, intermodal transport terminal, Plovdiv, Svilengrad, Trakiya Highway, Sofia International Airport, Sofia metro, Sofia Airport, Batin island, Belene island


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