Croatia’s railway infrastructure continues to remain behind the railway networks of other member states of the European Union, at least from the point of view of investments. And things don’t seem to get any better. The Croatian railway industry says the rail infrastructure condition is worse than 50 years ago, so that investments are a must. Over the next 20 years, necessary investments were estimated at HRK 50 billion (EUR 6.7 billion). One of the main reasons for the current state of the railway infrastructure is the lack of a strategy.
“The Railway Company, HŽ Infrastruktura, is registered as a public company, but between 50% and 80% of annual funds necessary for the operation of this company and of its subsidiaries come from the state budget. We are talking about billions of Kuna and, after the Government dissolved HŽ Holding in 2013, we don’t know exactly which of these subsidiaries use these funds or how much they get from the state budget”, said Ante Bajo, representative of Croatia’s Institute of Public Finances.
The declaration was made during an event organised by Croatia’s Association for Railways, Croatia’s Chamber of Commerce and the Association of Employers. The absence of a common direction for the Railway Company, after the dissolution of HŽ Holding, has also been emphasised by Nikolina Brnjac, Secretary of State within the Croatian Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure.
Brnjac warns about the low level of investments in railways and underlines that, in the previous period, 85% of investments targeted the construction of roads, while less than 10% of investments went to railways. All these problems have led to an extremely reduced traffic speed. For example, Zagreb – Vinkovci section used to be covered in two hours in the ’90s, but now the travel time is four hours. That is why railways become less and less popular in Croatia, although it has been the safest transport mode in the past 10 years. Official statistics show that a total of 28.2% of freight is shipped by rail in the European Union. In Austria and Switzerland, 50% of freight is shipped by railways. In Croatia, this share is of 17.3%.
Regarding the number of passengers, the situation is even worse, as only 3% of passengers choose railways, while the EU share is 8.4%. In Switzerland, 17.3% of passengers choose trains, while in Austria the rail transport share is of 12.1%. In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, rail passenger transport share is 8%.