From this 1948 steam engine in Čierny Balog to high speed tracks linking Bratislava with Vienna, Slovak Railways has come a long way.
Hujsy said the plan's goal is to "create a prosperous organization able to function in the European market." Toward that end, the state and ŽSR will contract with three Slovak companies-ZTS Dubnica and ZTS Martin, and ZOS Vrutky.
The three companies provide maintenance services and have produced a limited consignment of diesel and electric locomotives for ŽSR to manufacture a new fleet of mobile equipment which services the four main transport corridors in the country, the top priority being the route between Vienna and Budapest via Bratislava. "This route is one of the nine major transport corridors in eastern Europe," said Hujsy.
Hujsy added that the state's plan is to modernize one segment of that corridor, the part between Bratislava and Trnava, which will cost 4.8 billion Sk. On the way to Austria a high speed track will reduce travel or transport-time from Bratislava to Vienna to roughly 30 minutes, said Hujsy.
In addition, plans have been drafted to construct a large new combined passenger and freight transport terminal in the Bratislava suburb Petržalka, at a cost of 820 million Sk ($27 million) from the state budget. ŽSR plans to complete the project by October next year.
With the railway's freight capacity and cargo traffic expected to increase within the EU in the next five years, the state is already taking steps to upgrade ŽSR. "Last week we got three new, very high-quality cars from ZOS Vrutky," Hujsy told The Slovak Spectator. "By year's end there will be 26 more."
Last month, ŽSR brought on line Slovakia's first terminal connecting railway and road transportation in Čierna nad Tisou, near the Ukrainian border, at a cost to the state of 110 million Sk.
By the terms of an agreement reached with the EU and approved by the Slovak Parliament two years ago, Slovakia has to bring on line three more such reloading facilities, in Bratislava, Žilina, and Košice, by the millennium.
The average age of passenger cars on Slovak Railways, is estimated at an average of 10 years. "We are engaged in complete modernization of these vehicles, which means building new ones. For cars with sleeper-berths, we have signed a [production] contract with Siemens, so gradually we are modernizing," said Hujsy. "ZTS in Dubnica & Martin, and ZOS Vrutky will all participate in building passenger cars for the 21st century."
František Micuda, a spokesman for ZTS Dubnica, confirmed reports in the Slovak press that the company will establish a joint venture in December with the German manufacturer, Krauss Maffei Verkehrstechnik (KMV), to produce diesel locomotives and other engineering products for ZSR and "companies in other countries."
The joint venture should produce 6,000 locomotives in the next 10 years, of which 60 are slated for domestic use, with the remainder for export. KMV will help initially in setting up production in Slovakia, and later sell locomotives through its own network of trade representatives. As for new train cars, Hujsy said, production would commence "gradually next year, but the cars themselves won't be ready for another two years at least."
6. Nov 1996 at 0:00 | Tom Reynolds