An amount of BGN 250-300 million (EUR 127 – 153 million) is planned to be invested this period in Bulgarian State Railways (BDZ), stated for local press the Bulgarian Minister of Transport, information Technology and Communications Ivaylo Moskovski.
“The source will be the state budget, but I have not crossed out the theme “loan” with which to refinance part of the debt and to invest in the company. Currently, however, no agreement with the Ministry of Finance has been reached for the State guarantee and without such we cannot arrange a loan the railways. We are last in the EU level of investment in railway transport based kilometres railway network. Just do not assume that the railroad is a priority. When we talk about state aid, it should be clear that against the money we get greener. Second – get safe transport. This money is not just a whim to have our trains. In Europe speed lines compete against airline transport over short distances. We hope that we can offer, when running the Sofia-Bourgas train with 160 km / h – a speed that will be competitive with bus transportation”, he added.
The ministry’s long-term strategy for Railways will be ready within a week or two and we be submitted to parliament. It will include a plan for investment and optimization “BDZ – Passenger Transport” that to ensure sustainability of the company in the next 7 or 10 years. According to Moskovski, the framework of the strategy is to fix a capital transfer from the state to the railroad to be observed for those 7 or 10 years. “The aim for this transfer is to allow the railroad to buy new trains. On the other hand, we will continue with our optimization plan. I will continue to insist that these loss making trains be withdrawn from circulation. Their place may be substituted with more economical rail buses. If the investment is not good, we will stop train transport to certain places and create bus company BDZ, which will provide transport needs of the people. We want to entrust The Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS) to update the mathematical model, which is based on the national transport scheme”, he added.
BDZ Freight unit should be privatised
“It is important that BDZ Freight should be privatized because at this time the market has eight private carriers that are extremely flexible and in this state the state company cannot compete with them. I have nothing against liberalization of the sector, but this is done after the restructure of the state-owned company to be competitive. Privatisation of state rail in our country has been handled badly. I do not know why the previous government stopped the privatization. The company each year has made losses. If you sell something so good, it should have a tail. I do not see one. Let the Privatization Agency decide, but we are most open for applicants. The company has 109 million lev in obligations that are secured by 100% of the assets”.