The European Commission has approved a three-year Bulgarian state aid scheme worth EUR 32 million to support ETCS on board and the increased use of the railway for freight and passenger transport.
The funding, to be provided under the country’s Recovery and Resilience Plan, will take the form of direct grants to railway companies to enable them to integrate the European Train Control System (ETCS) Level 2, the central signalling and train control component of the common European rail traffic management system, into Bulgaria‘s existing rolling stock, the Commission said in a press release published the other day.
The state aid scheme consists of grants awarded until 30 April 2026. The aim is to increase rail interoperability across EU member state borders, improve the competitiveness of rail transport and shift more traffic from road to rail so as to reduce congestion and pollution, in line with Green Deal and sustainable mobility objectives.
ETCS on board for 108 electric locomotives
Bulgaria’s transport connectivity programme, the first approved last year in the new 2021-2027 operating period, includes projects such as the construction and repair of railway sections along the East/East-Mediterranean corridor, including a rail connection between Bulgaria and Northern Macedonia, and the rehabilitation of railway lines connecting Sofia to the Serbian border.
Last month, the Bulgarian Ministry of Transport launched public consultations on a 126 million leva (EUR 64.4 million) project by the National Railway Infrastructure Company to purchase and install ETCS on board 108 electric locomotives and wagons. Up to 50% of the project cost will be financed by state subsidies.