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Russian Railways CEO pushes broad-gauge rail project

Vladimir Yakunin, the president of Russian Railways, has said he is convinced that the project to build a broad-gauge railway line to central Europe will be implemented and will be effective. He was speaking during a visit to Bratislava on Thursday, April 4.

Vladimir Yakunin, the president of Russian Railways, has said he is convinced that the project to build a broad-gauge railway line to central Europe will be implemented and will be effective. He was speaking during a visit to Bratislava on Thursday, April 4.

Yakunin also said he deemed the proposed route through Slovakia to be the most advantageous choice. It would include at least two reloading terminals in Slovakia, but is not the only option. At a press conference in Bratislava he said that the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary are also interested in the project. Yakunin said, as quoted by the SITA newswire, that a final decision will only be made after financial terms for the construction of the broad-gauge link are known. The estimated cost of the project, which is being considered by railway companies from Russia, Ukraine, Slovakia and Austria, could reach around €6 billion. Yakunin predicted that one year would be needed to reach a final decision on the project and that construction would take about three years.

The Sme daily quoted Yakunin as saying that if Slovakia has a problem with there being a reloading terminal only in Vienna, two such facilities could be placed in Slovakia, too – but did not specify the locations. He also spoke about a plan by Russian Railways to create a joint venture with Slovakia's ZSSK Cargo.

Ondrej Matej of the Institute of Transport and Economy, and previously to former prime minister Iveta Radičová, called the project a hidden privatisation, adding that even if reloading terminals are placed in Slovakia it would not help the broad-gauge railway concept. If there is a terminal in Vienna, most of the cargo will be trans-shipped there, he said.

Sources: SITA, Sme

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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