The underground transport system is very important for the mobility of the citizens, for reducing congestion and pollution. In the countries of the Wider Black Sea Area, the past years have been focused on projects or project plans on the construction of metro networks, while public transport strategies included this transport option.
Included in strategies, the increase of urbanization and the need to provide efficient transport services are the main factors which determined the authorities to choose to implement projects. Despite high investments, the development and construction potential of metro networks is high as there will be several cities with a population exceeding 1 million citizens as of 2016. In this context, underground transport becomes a necessity.
One of the WBSA cities which have recently announced their intention to build a metro system is Ashgabat (Turkmenistan). The problem of building the system has been considered following the Parliament Resolution of 2013 according to which Ashgabat increased its metropolitan area by taking over Abadan and Rukhabad suburbs. The city is the largest political, administrative, commercial and transport hub centre, gathering 12% of the country’s population. Since the city has known a rapid development and the number of population will increase significantly, during a meeting between the Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and Vladimir Petruk, Manager of Interbudmontazh Company in Ukraine, the head of state has asked the company to consider the construction of Ashgabat metro system.
“During this meeting, the Turkmen President pointed out that Ashgabat was a city experiencing intense development with growing population which meant the authorities would build metro lines”, the local press informed. The company’s manager said experts would closely study the possibility to build the system. The project development had been brought to discussion in 2008, when the local municipality invited the Saint Petersburg-based company to bring its contribution.
Azerbaijan authorities also consider that a metro system has important positive effects for the society and the economic environment, saying many cities could rely on the new transport system in the future. Ganja, the second largest city in Azerbaijan, is on the list of cities which could have a metro network. European companies have already expressed interest in participating to the development of the system. “Next to other important projects on public transport in the cities of Azerbaijan, the city of Ganja is very interesting as it plans to build a metro line”, declared Alstom Bernard Gonnet, Senior Vice President for the CIS.
Currently, Baku is carrying out network development projects for which 6 new stations will be put in traffic by 2016, while the long-term strategy includes the construction of another three lines with the total length of the network amounting to 119 km (from the current 34).
Timişoara, a city in the west of Romania, with a population of around 304 thousand people, is a strong hub city for the entire western region of the country focusing over 80% of the county’s economy and over 30% of the regional economy. It is also the second economic centre (following Romania’s capital, Bucharest). Public transport development includes plans to build a metro line connecting Gara de Nord to Timişoara International Airport. The line will be 8 km-long and the project will be included in the portfolio of Timişoara municipality for 2014-2020. “This is the solution-the railways should be shifted in the underground and we will also develop a metro connection between several key points of the city: Gara de Nord, the mall area, Gara de Est, Airport. They can all be connected and fast. We have to find financing sources and then we can implement the project”, declared Mayor of Timişoara Nicolae Robu.
The project is considered as the authorities plan to move the railway currently in the middle of the city, outside the city, but in a few years “the transport problem will reappear, because of the expansion of the city, and it will be in the middle of the urban agglomeration again”, said Robu.
If the construction of the metro line is completed, Timişoara will be the second Romanian city to benefit from an underground transport network, after Bucharest.
At present, the Romanian capital prepares projects for the extension of the network. Metrorex elaborates foreign financing projects, currently in preliminary technical stages, on Drumul Taberei – Pantelimon line (Line5); for the 7.4km long Universitate – Pantelimon section (12 stations and a depot), works will begin in 2015 and commissioning is due in 2019. Another foreign financing project, proposed for financing within the Operational Programme Large Infrastructure 2014-2020, refers to the connection of the underground network with “Henri Coandă – Otopeni” International Airport (14.2 km of double track). The project is estimated at over EUR 1 Billion and works are due to being in 2015. The Operational Programme Large Infrastructure 2014-2020 also includes the project of the 11-km long Haşdeu – Universitate – Pantelimon section (17 stations), the current financing source being EIB and the state budget. The estimated deadline for the beginning of works is 2015 and commissioning is due in 2019.