Rail line upgrade will benefit travellers and business

Modernising a section of railway line between Septemvri and Plovdiv in Bulgaria will speed up journey times, increase safety and help the local economy.

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This project marks phase one of a scheme to improve the railway line between Sofia and Plovdiv. The other two sections (Sofia to Elin Pelin and Elin Pelin to Septemvri) have been delayed due to complex land acquisition procedures and the need to construct tunnels due to challenging mountainous terrain.

Work in phase one will modernise a 53.6 km long, double track section of railway line, which will increase speeds to 160 km/hour for conventional passenger trains and up to 200 km/hour for tilting trains. Rail safety will be improved thanks to the installation of a state-of-the-art signalling system and through the introduction of a new communications system, which harnesses sophisticated radio equipment and fibre optic cables. Replacing all four level crossings on the route with over/underpasses will also improve safety along the line.

Five stations on the route will be equipped with new signalling infrastructure. Other work will include rebuilding tracks within their original alignment, improving bridges (including the reconstruction of one bridge), rehabilitation of overhead lines and modernising passenger information systems at stations.

Big savings

Improving the Septemvri-Plovdiv line is expected to generate time savings of EUR 4.2 million/year. The regional population of 3.4 million can expect better, more efficient rail services, both for passengers and freight. In turn, this will provide a boost to the local economy, especially for Plovdiv and its important industrial base.

The National Railway Infrastructure Company (NRIC) will manage and operate the new line. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Transport, Information Technology and Communications will approve an annual programme and provide funding for the construction, maintenance, repair and operation of the rail infrastructure. During implementation, phase one is expected to provide 905 jobs.

The Sofia-Plovdiv railway line is part of the EU-funded trans-European transport network (the so-called TEN T programme), which aims to improve transport infrastructure so as to allow people and goods to move more efficiently and quickly between Member States. This project also forms part of the Bulgarian government’s overall strategy to refurbish and modernise the railway route which runs from the border with Serbia to the frontiers with Turkey and Greece at Svilengrad.

Total and EU funding

The project “Modernisation of the railway section between Septemvri and Plovdiv in Bulgaria” has a total eligible budget of EUR 266 475 718, with the EU’s Cohesion fund contributing EUR 202 215 017 for the 2007 to 2013 programming period.

Draft date