One of the main concerns of Romania’s rail infrastructure manager, CFR SA, is to meet the whole rail passenger transport demand. “We must always have a flawless wheel-rail contact. We must have normal travel conditions. For this to happen, beside the contracts with repair companies, Ateliere CFR Grivita, Astra Vagoane Calatori Arad, Electroputere VFU Pascani, starting this March and depending on notices, apart from the underground lathe in Brasov, there will also be a pressing machine and a balance machine, which will give independence to CFR. Over the last period, we have been content that we have been able to takeover the estimated passenger flow. Now, we make efforts to takeover the passenger flow of 2019, too”, said Iulian Bleotu, Director Contracts and Investements, CFR SA, while participating in the Conference “CEE rail infrastructure challenge” organised by Club Feroviar, with the support of the Romanian Railway Industry Association (AIF) in Poiana Brasov, on 5-6 March. However, to meet the objectives, the Romanian Ministry of Transport must also play its part, at least with respect to the rolling stock procurement. “We hope new rolling stock procurement contracts will be completed. We are trying to provide normal transport conditions for the transport of passengers”. Main projects follow the principles of the General Transport Master Plan. Thus, CFR’s development needs include increasing the accessibility of the regions, ensuring financial resources for investments and increasing railway transport competitiveness by improving rolling stock management.
- Rehabilitation of Corridor 4 from Simeria to km 614. “It is a section under construction. In 2019, we plan to complete at least 80 km of railway between Simeria and Sighisoara, while for km 614 – Simeria section, we want improved progress compared to previous years”.
- Brasov – Sighisoara. It is a big project worth EUR 2 billion. It is in the tender phase, both sections are in the evaluation phase or have been contested and we hope to complete this section. It is absolutely necessary to initiate these works because we have delays, including regarding financing relations”, pointed out Iulian Bleotu.
Projects in preparation at CFR SA
Iulian Bleotu also presented several projects that are in preparation. “For the sector from Arad to Caransebes, there is a feasibility study aimed to the duplication of the railway on a distance as longer as possible, as well as increasing the traffic speed to 120-140 km/h. We hope to obtain financing for the four lots towards the end of the year”. For the electrification of Cluj Napoca – Episcopia Bihor railway, the feasibility study is being updated. “At the end of the year, we have to launch the tender for design and execution. It is a project fully financed in the current programming period of POIM (Operational Programme Large Infrastructure)”, he said.
Gradistea Bridge could also have another route, because of environmental grounds. “The financing source is also POIM. The project is being reviewed by CFR. There are also other alternatives, resulted following the environmental assessment, because the current route passes through Comana Natural Park”, explained the CFR representative. The environment documentation has been submitted for Craiova – Calafat feasibility study because this section crosses 4 km of protected area. Another feasibility study launched in 2018 is Caransebes – Craiova, a very interesting project. The project is special because there is an area with the second steepest declivity in Romania. We estimate that in 2020, depending on the environment approval, we would also initiate the project and have a financing source. It is a long section, of 200 km”, said Bleotu. Last but not least, the company signed the contract to duplicate Mogosoaia – Balotesti railway. This project is fully financed from the state budget. Other projects are those financed mostly through the POIM or CEF (cohesion funds). “Predeal – Brasov sector is the only sector that has not been proposed as financing objective. There will be a feasibility study that will tell us which the best solution is for approaching this section. There is a black hole on Corridor 4 (the current Rhine-Danube Corridor). Another project of major interest is the modernisation of rail infrastructure in Constanta Port”, explained Bleotu. Moreover, in 2019, CFR plans to upgrade at least 150 level crossings. “At the end of the year, we hope we will have a final feasibility study to further launch the procurement and execution procedure”, said Iulian Bleotu. A project of major interest is the modernisation/repair of black holes and elimination of restrictions. “It is a challenge for us. There are 1,000 km of railways undergoing repair works”, he added.