Modernisation of Bulgaria’s rail infrastructure 18/06/21

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Driving forward the modernisation of Bulgaria’s rail infrastructure

Krasimir Papukchiyski, Director General of Bulgaria’s National Railway Infrastructure Company (NRIC), tells Global Railway Review about how it is driving forward upgrades and modernisation in its rail infrastructure in order to restore Bulgaria’s railway to the level of its European counterparts.

The bridge over the Maritsa River is 433m-long, making it the longest railway bridge in Bulgaria. Its construction is part of the project to reconstruct and electrify the Plovdiv–Svilengrad–Turkish/Greek borders railway line along the IV and IX corridors.

The National Railway Infrastructure Company (NRIC) was formed in January 2002 following the division of the Bulgarian State Railways National Company (NC BDZ) into an infrastructure manager – the NRIC – and a railway carrier – BDZ EAD (now Holding BDZ EAD) – in response to European requirements and in accordance with the Railway Transport Act.

The total length of Bulgaria’s railway infrastructure is 6,454km. There are 186 railway tunnels with a total length of 47.9km; 995 railway bridges with a total length of 43.1km; and 757 level crossings. The average density of our railway network is in the scope of 59km per 1,000km2 of territory.

Yet, behind these figures, there is a remarkable history extending a period of more than 150 years, rich in construction and operation-related events, alternating between periods of technological downturn and significant upturn.

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The Bulgarian railway began to take shape in 1864, when English engineer Henry Berkeley drew the route of the first railway line between Ruse and Varna – a length of 225km, which was put into operation just two years later. The first large railway station was also built in the vilayet town of Ruschuk at this time. At the end of the 1930s, the technological distance between the Bulgarian railway and the most developed railway system at that time – the German DR – was around only seven to eight years.

Prioritising modern infrastructure

Today, the NRIC’s efforts are directed towards a programme of large infrastructure projects intended to reunite us with the family of high-tech European railway networks.