THE SLOVAK transport minister has said that a broad-gauge railway linking the Ukrainian border with Vienna might be completed within 10 years. Ľubomír Vážny was speaking on November 25 after signing a memorandum between Slovakia, Ukraine and Russia on construction of a broad-gauge link in the village of Dobrá in eastern Slovakia, the Sme daily wrote. The president of Russian Railways, Vladimir I. Yakunin, also signed the memorandum.
Vážny estimated that construction costs will be Sk122 billion (over €4 billion), adding that the project will not be financed from the state budget. Russian, Ukrainian as well as Japanese investors are said to be interested in financing it.
The broad-gauge railway through Slovakia should enable faster transport of goods from Asia to Europe, the Czech news television channel ČT24 quoted Yakunin as saying.
Trains in the former Soviet Union operate on rails 85 millimetres wider than those in the rest of Europe, and currently need to have their wheel assemblies changed to continue west of Ukraine.
Thanks to the new railway, cargo rail times from Asia will be shortened by four days, Yakunin added.
On November 25, Trans Container, a subsidiary of Russian Railways, and Cargo Slovakia also signed a contract on the long-term rental of a combined container transport terminal in Dobrá. The Russian company will rent the terminal for 15 years, paying €500,000 in the first year.
1. Dec 2008 at 0:00 | Compiled by the Spectator staff from press reports