EPPO searches in probe for two Bulgarian rail projects

Bulgarian rail projectsThe European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) in Sofia has carried out searches at numerous locations, in an investigation into two Bulgarian rail projects, worth over EUR 241 million in EU financing.

According to the institution, more than 100 police officers and agents from Bulgaria’s National Police General Directorate and Bulgaria’s State Agency for National Security participated in the searches, carried out at 28 locations in the districts of Sofia, Burgas, Varna, Stara Zagora, Smolyan and Pazardzhik.

The two Bulgarian rail projects are located on Sofia – Burgas rail corridor and includes the railway section between Kostenets and Septemvri (on Sofia – Plovdiv mainline) and the section connecting Orizovo and Mihaylovo on Plovdiv – Burgas mainline.

The Kostenets – Septemvri rail modernisation project obtained a European co-financing of EUR 130 million from the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA), previously INEA, through the Connecting Europe Facility.

In 2019, the rail infrastructure manager NRIC signed a contract worth BGN 380 million (EUR 190.8 million, in current prices) with a consortium comprising Trans Logistika, Contratas Iglesias and Arcada Company. EUR 154 million is the total value of the project, out of which EUR 130.5 million was provided through the CEF 2015 Transport call, while EUR 23 million is the funding covered by the government.

The project covers the modernisation and reconstruction of a 24.4 km double track line, including the construction of three tunnels totaling 4.6 km and 23 bridges with a total length of 2.5 km. The completion of the project will remove a major bottleneck on this section as well as on the Sofia – Plovdiv line, part of the Orient-East Med core network corridor. The project will also contribute to the interoperability of the corridor, consequently increasing service quality and safety.

The modernisation of the 37 km Orizovo – Mihaylovo railway, part of the second phase of the rehabilitation of the 293 km Plovdiv – Burgas, received a more than EUR 111 million financing from the Cohesion Fund, under the Operational Programme Transport and Transport Infrastructure. The contract for the modernisation of this line has been signed with the consortium SEZP “Euro Railway Infrastructure” comprising “Infrastructural Construction” AD and “Marco Obra Publica” AD.

The contract had a value of BGN 218 million (EUR 109.47 million, in current prices). The project covers the renewal and construction of the tracks and catenary system, the reconstruction of bridges, the construction of an 863m tunnel, modernisation of track substation Chirpan, and the removal of level crossing which will be replaced by the new overpasses underpasses.

In 2021, NRIC has launched the installation of the signalling and telecommunication systems along the Plovdiv – Burgas railway line (Phase II) and at 18 stations, the installation of the ETCS Level 1, system for centralized train dispatcher`s office in the section Manole – Burgas and the train communication system GSM-R and optic cable. BGN 185 million (EUR 92.9 million, in current prices) was the value of the contract signed in 2019 with the Plobur consortium, comprising GP Group, Marmet, Bombardier Transportation Italy and Bombardier Transportation Poland (now Alstom).

These both projects also cover the renewal of the signalling system.

Laura Codruța Kövesi is the European Chief Prosecutor, the former chief prosecutor of Romania’s National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA), a position she held from 2013 to 9 July 2018. Prior to this, between 2006 and 2012 Laura Kövesi was the Prosecutor General of Romania, attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice. She was the first woman and the youngest Prosecutor General in Romania’s history.

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