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Broad-gauge project presented

PRESIDENT of Russian Railways Vladimir Yakunin spoke in Bratislava recently about the yet-to-be approved investment project to extend a broad-gauge railway line from Košice to Bratislava and on to Vienna. Yakunin was a member of the delegation accompanying Russian President Dmitry Medvedev during his visit to Slovakia in early April, the SITA newswire wrote.

PRESIDENT of Russian Railways Vladimir Yakunin spoke in Bratislava recently about the yet-to-be approved investment project to extend a broad-gauge railway line from Košice to Bratislava and on to Vienna. Yakunin was a member of the delegation accompanying Russian President Dmitry Medvedev during his visit to Slovakia in early April, the SITA newswire wrote.

The estimated cost of the project is €4.7 billion, but could rise higher. Of the overall 565-km length, 505 kilometres of track should lead through Slovakia and 60 kilometres would be built in Austria.

According to Yakunin, experts believe Slovakia could become a transit country thanks to the project, which would be competitive with other modes of cargo transport. A feasibility study will evaluate the potential implementation of the broad-gauge line; the contract to conduct the study has been awarded to a consortium led by German consulting company Roland Berger. The deadline for its completion has been set for October 15.

According to Russian Railways, the construction of the line might start in 2013 and be completed in 2015, with transportation of commercial cargo starting in 2016.

Ondrej Matej, a former director general of ZSSK Slovensko, said he sees neither benefits nor advantages for Slovakia from the project, arguing that the project is of interest only to the Russian Federation and Austria. According to him, the main aim of the project is to move a strategic trans-shipment centre in eastern Slovakia to Austria in order for Russia to get a stronger partner than Slovakia, as well as a direct connection to western Europe’s transport infrastructure and thus also control over trans-shipped goods.

Matej estimates construction of a broad-gauge link would mean a reduction in cargo volumes of 12-15 percent for ZSSK Cargo. This would in turn reduce the charges collected for the usage of railways in Slovakia by the railway operator ŽSR, meaning that demands on the state budget to maintain the Slovak railway network would increase.

"By building this railroad we will lose the advantage of the trans-shipment centre in Čierna nad Tisou," he said.


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