SLOVAKIA will join Russia, Ukraine and Austria in a project to prepare and construct a broad-gauge railway linking Košice, Bratislava and Vienna. The government approved a proposal to this effect, prepared by Transport Minister Ľubomír Vážny, on February 18.
State-owned Slovak Railways (ŽSR) will form a joint-stock company with railway companies from Russia, Ukraine and Austria with a contribution of €25,000. The state will also increase the property holdings of ŽSR by €1.5 million, which will also be contributed to the joint-stock company.
In the initial part of the project, a feasibilty study will be carried out to show whether the construction of a broad-gauge link will be effective. Work on the study will start this March.
“Our aim is to realise the project of broad-gauge construction across Slovakia,” Vážny was quoted by SITA as saying. “If the feasibility study of June 2009 is convincing enough for us to see that it is the right project to do … the Slovak party will support the realisation of the broad-gauge [railway] through regional tracks in Slovakia,” he concluded.
The projected flow of goods on the new railway and the price of transportation by the railroad are among four basic issues which are to be addressed. The state also needs to decide about investors in construction; and the international obligations of all the partners, including Ukraine, have to be settled in order to avoid problems of the kind Slovakia experienced during the gas crisis at the beginning of 2009, Vážny said.
After the four countries decided to join forces in the project to build a broad-gauge track through Slovakia, Hungary immediately proposed to Russia that a similar line could be built through Hungary. This convinced Vážny that the project was a good step, despite the negative reactions from opposition parties, SITA reported.