STA, 27 July 2019 - The value of construction works in Slovenia carried out last year amounted to EUR 2.57 billion, which is 29% more than in the year before, the Statistics Office has reported. It was the second time in a row that the value increased on the annual basis, and it was also 1% above the amount from 2010.
The works that construction companies carried out on buildings last year are valued at EUR 1.35 billion, which is 35% more than in 2017.
The value of works on engineering structures was meanwhile up by 23% to EUR 1.22 billion, show the final data from the Statistics Office.
The growth in value was the most prominent in non-residential buildings, being up by 38% to EUR 906 million.
The value of works on residential and non-residential buildings combined was up by 35% compared to 2017. It was up by 28% for the former and by 38% for the latter.
When it comes to non-residential buildings, the value of construction works was up the most in the industrial and warehouse buildings segment (up by 59% to EUR 318 million).
This segment was followed by office and administrative buildings, and by commercial and service buildings, up by 42% to EUR 165 million and by 23% to EUR 160 million, respectively.
The value of works on transport infrastructure was up by 38% to EUR 770 million.
The value was meanwhile down for works on pipelines, communication networks and electricity transmission networks (-0.3% to EUR 333 million) and for works on industrial complexed (-9% to EUR 46 million).
STA, 25 July 2019 - DARS, the national motorway company, has received five fresh bids in what is the latest chapter in the construction of Slovenia's half of the second tube of the Karavanke tunnel to Austria. Turkish builder Cengiz, already picked in a procedure last year that was subsequently quashed, is the cheapest bidder again.
Cengiz Insaat, which had promised to execute the project for EUR 89.3 million in 2018, now issued a bid worth EUR 99.6 million, DARS announced after opening the bids on Thursday.
Cengiz is followed by Greek J&P Avax with EUR 115 million, and Slovenia's Kolektor CGP, which has partnered with Slovenian engineering company Riko and Turkish company Yapi Merkezi to offer to build the tube for EUR 121 million.
The fourth lowest bid, worth EUR 121.5 million, was submitted by Implenia Österreich in partnership with Implenia Switzerland and Slovenia's CGP Novo Mesto, and the fifth, worth EUR 122.2 million by Slovenia's Gorenjska Gradbena Družba in cooperation with Czech builder Metrostav, which had been the second lowest among nine bidders in 2018.
Bosnia's Euroasfalt and its Slovenian partner Cestno Podjetje Ptujm, which had been among the six bidders invited by DARS into the new round of talks and bids, has not submitted a bid this time.
The bids are now to be examined and the procedure is continuing after the National Review Commission - which annulled the original awarding of the deal to Cengiz with the argument the Turkish company had made subsequent changes to their offer - rejected the call by Kolektor CPG, Yapi Merkezi and Riko to halt the new stage of the procedure.
While Austria is already in the midst of building its portion of the 8-kilometre tunnel, the project has been stuck in the tender stage in Slovenia since it began in 2017, having seen a number of appeals processed by DARS as well as the National Review Commission.
STA, 18 July 2019 - Contractors have completed works on a major logistics centre adjacent to Ljubljana Airport that will be operated by Austrian logistics giant Cargo Partner. Spanning over almost 30,000 square metres, the new facility is expected to help turn the airport area in a major logistics hub.
Engineering company Protim Ržišnik Perc, which oversaw the project, said on Thursday the new facility would have 25,000 square metres of warehousing areas capable of storing 20,000 palettes, plus 4,000 square metres of office space.
It is located right next to a major centre run by Kuehne + Nagel which serves as the biggest logistics facility for Swiss drug maker Novartis in Europe.
When Cargo Partner broke ground on the project at the end of August 2018, the company said it opted for the airport area because of its excellent location and proximity to the seaports in Koper and Trieste.
Several other smaller logistics projects are also in development around the airport, Zmago Skobir, the head of airport operator Fraport Slovenija, said today as work started on a new passenger terminal at the airport
"It all started with the new bypass road. Since then development around the airport has been very fast," he said.
STASTA, 18 July 2019 - A cornerstone ceremony marked the start of construction of a passenger terminal extension at the Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport on Thursday. The expansion will boost the terminal's capacities considerably and improve the airport's services. The works are expected to take two years, with the total cost of investment exceeding EUR 21 million.
Steps in preparing construction site have already been taken by builders GIC Gradnje and Elcom with whom airport operator Fraport Slovenija signed a EUR 17.3 million construction contract at the end of June.
At the ceremony, Fraport Slovenija director Zmago Skobir said that the journey towards modernising the passenger terminal was a long one, but the German company had started delivering on the promises it gave when it became the airport's operator in 2015.
The terminal extension is necessary due to an increase in the number of passengers in the recent years. The trend is expected to continue in the future - in the next 20 years, the Ljubljana airport is expected to register a 3-4% increase of annual traffic growth.
The airport welcomed a record number of 1.8 million passengers last year and has been struggling with lack of space for a while.
Skobir said he was not concerned over the future of Slovenian air carrier Adria Airways since he was sure that it would adapt to growing passenger traffic rates, which are increasing in line with the Slovenian economy and tourism.
The current capacities of the terminal provide service to 500 passengers per hour, while the new terminal will cater to 1,250 passengers per hour. This will prevent bottle neck at the terminal, including during rush hours in peak summer season.
The terminal will thus get 10,000 square metres of new space, including new retail and restaurant facilities as well as additional 14 check-in desks, two security control points and a new departure lounge.
The extension will delight passengers and ensure long-term development and competitiveness for Fraport Slovenija, said Skobir.
Apart from the expansion, the operator also plans to modernise airport logistics and IT. According to Skobir, Fraport Slovenija is currently in a long-term investment cycle that amounts to more than EUR 40 million.
The German-owned operator will supervise and manage the investment with a team of ten engineers. According to engineering manager Andrej Tominec, the operator aims to open the new terminal in summer 2021 before Slovenia takes the EU Council presidency in July 2021.
The airport will stay open during the whole construction process. The new facility will be a separate unit connected to the existing terminal, located on the site of a former car park.
The building will be a spacious fusion of concrete, wood and glass, reflecting the nearby Kamnik-Savinja Alps, getting a lot of natural light and blending in with its environment, said the Plan B architecture firm, which has designed blueprints.
There will also be a park outside the new facility, envisaged as a refreshing shelter for passengers. A vision of turning the airport into a small airport city is thus coming to fruition, said Skobir.
Fraport Slovenija also plans to renovate the old terminal after completing the extension project.
STA, 15 July 2019 - In the next three years, some EUR 200 million will be invested in the building of broadband optical networks in rural parts of Slovenia as part of the RUNE project, co-funded by the EU and the European Investment Bank (EIB).
The Rural Network Project will be launched this year and will bring internet speeds of up to 10Gb/s to rural households, according to RUNE Enia, the company in charge of the investment in Slovenia.
The project, which is also being launched in Croatia, is co-funded by the Connecting Europe Broadband Fund (CEBF) set up by the EU and the EIB in order to help fund commercial investments. RUNE investment in Croatia is somewhat lower than in Slovenia, at EUR 50 million.
According to the European Commission's web site, the goal is to generate between EUR 1 billion and EUR 1.7 billion investments by providing EUR 500 million in incentives.
STA, 9 July 2019 - Telecoms operator Telemach, which holds about a fifth of the country's mobile telephony market, is on track to losing a portion of wireless spectrum that had been awarded free of charge in 2008 to a company it acquired almost five years ago.
The Agency for Communication Networks and Services (AKOS) has decided to take back two 5 MHz slices of spectrum in the 2100 MHz band, which amounts to less than a tenth of total spectrum that Telemach has at its disposal.
The decision will be effective on 30 September, until which time a public call for bids for the spectrum will be issued. Telemach will be allowed to bid, AKOS said on Tuesday.
Telemach told the STA the move would not affect its users since they have enough spectrum, and it said it would mount a challenge at the Administrative Court.
As for participating in the announced tender, the company said this would "depend on the tender conditions and the company's assessment as to whether the acquisition of additional frequency under the tender conditions is technically and economically justified."
The decision is based on an ruling by the Administrative Court, which examined the awarding of the spectrum to Tušmobil free of charge in 2008 and decided the agency needed to make a new decision.
The awarding of the spectrum is also the subject of a criminal trial, with former AKOS director Tomaž Simonič charged with abuse of office for giving the spectrum to Tušmobil in exchange for an apartment provided by Mirko Tuš, at the time the owner of Tušmobil.
Telemach acquired Tušmobil in 2014 in a move that bolstered its mobile offerings and made it the number 3 wireless operator in Slovenia.
STA, 2 July 2019 - The share of electricity from renewable sources in gross end use in Slovenia in 2018 rose by 3.4 percentage points to 21.8% from 2005, the Energy Agency, the national regulator, says in its 2018 report.
This was facilitated by a support scheme which has since 2009 involved more than 2,500 producers with almost 3,860 production facilities running on renewables.
But in line with national goals stemming from the EU's climate and energy package, the share of renewables in gross end use will have to be raised to 25% by 2020.
To achieve this goal, progress will have to be made in transport and in power production, the agency says in the report, which has been sent to the National Assembly.
In transport, Slovenia was by 4.7 percentage points behind the target 10.5% share in 2018, while the gap for electricity output to the 39.3% goal was over 7 points.
Renewables-based power was generated mostly by hydro plants and other plants running on renewables, reaching 34.5% of the country's total power output in 2018, up almost 5 points annually.
The rest of Slovenia's power output came from coal-fired power stations (29%) and the Krško Nuclear Power Plant, the country's only nuclear power station (36.5%).
Domestic electricity production covered almost 85% of domestic electricity consumption, up 1.7 points from 2017.
However, the agency said the output did not reflect the actual potential of the country's electricity production facilities.
It was rather a result of the structure of production facilities, their competitiveness and the emerging electricity market target model, says the report.
For instance, hydro power stations' output depends on water levels, while coal-fired power stations and plants running on liquid and gas fuels strongly depend on daily power consumption as well as on market variables such as the prices of emission coupons, fuel or wholesale.
The agency also says market concentration in the retail market somewhat decreased last year, which shows there is more competition among electricity suppliers.
However, the end price of electricity for an average household edged up 0.3%, while it rose by more than 8% for other users.
While there is still much room to save on electricity bills by changing suppliers, the number of those did so in 2018 dropped by one point to 5.7% over 2017, a second consecutive annual drop.
The Energy Agency is the country's national regulatory authority which directs and supervises electricity and gas energy operators.
Its mission is to act in the interest of all market stakeholders, so it is not financed from the state budget but from network charges.
STA, 23 June - The government is drafting legislative changes legalising the increasingly popular electric scooters and the testing of autonomous cars.
E-scooters are currently unregulated and exist in a grey zone, but under changes proposed by the Infrastructure Ministry their use will be allowed in pedestrian areas and on bicycle lanes.
The maximum speed will be restricted to 25 km/h, but in pedestrian areas e-scooter riders will have to keep the speed at walking pace.
Where there are no pavements or bicycle lanes, e-scooters will be allowed on the edge of roads.
In general, e-scooters will be subject to rules on bicyclists, which means they have to have lights. Helmets will be mandatory for underage riders.
A second set of rules deals with autonomous cars, whose testing will be permitted on Slovenian roads provided they are marked as autonomous vehicles.
Drivers will nevertheless have to be present in the vehicle at all times to take over if necessary, and systems must be put in place to record data in real time and hand over that data to law enforcement in the event of an accident.
All autonomous vehicles will have to be insured and their owners will have to notify the police in advance of testing.
The changes are a part of a broader reform law on traffic regulations that has been drawn up by the Infrastructure Ministry and submitted for interdepartmental consultation.
Some of the other changes involve higher fines for using mobile devices while driving, new rules on mixed areas shared by vehicles and pedestrians, and stricter rules on where lorry drivers may park.
In a change that will be welcomed by cyclists, the legislation will eliminate an unintended loophole under which bicyclists had to be completely sober; like drivers of cars, they will be allowed to have a blood alcohol content of 0.5 grams of alcohol per litre of blood.
STA, 18 June 2019 - A deal was signed in Novo Mesto on Tuesday that is to pave the way for revitalisation of a hundred-year-old cross-border railway infrastructure connecting Ljubljana with Slovenian border towns and further with Croatia.
The agreement on cooperation was signed by representatives of nine Slovenian municipalities, including Ljubljana, and Croatia's Karlovac. The project will be coordinated by the Novo Mesto Development Centre.
According to the head of the centre, Franc Bratkovič, the municipalities will contribute more than EUR 100,000 for the project in the next couple of years. "We will do everything we can to have the project included in national and European documents," he said.
The goal of the initiative to revive the hundred-year-old cross border railway infrastructure connecting Ljubljana with the border towns and further with Croatia's Karlovac and later Zagreb, is to make the Slovenian railway network and the towns along the railway competitive, said Novo Mesto Mayor Gregor Macedoni.
The modernisation of the railway is to boost connectivity, international cooperation and regional development.
One of the initiators of the project that was conceived a year ago, Grosuplje Mayor Peter Verlič, said that it was a precondition for the setting up of the European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation, which will enable the drawing of EU funds.
The modernisation of the railway, which is expected to be finalised in about ten years, will be funded from various sources.
In the initial phase, the railway track is to be modernised to allow for higher travelling speeds and heavier trains, train stations renovated and dangerous level crossings eliminated.
The next phase is to include electrification of the track and the purchase of ten modern trains.
The costs of the project have not been estimated yet, but Verlič said they would probably be similar to the costs of the modernisation of the Grosuplje-Kočevje railway.
Those costs reached almost EUR 100m.
STA, 14 June 2019 - Infrastructure Minister Alenka Bratušek said on Friday she was working on the idea to connect Maribor and Ljubljana with express trains, a demand presented by a civil initiative earlier this week. Bratušek said she would push for connecting several European cities with fast trains to be one of Slovenia's priorities during the EU presidency.
"I believe Slovenia should be the initiator of express trains between Vienna, Ljubljana and Venice, and the first fast connection we need to introduce would be between Ljubljana and Maribor, two biggest Slovenian cities," the minister said.
The Infrastructure Ministry said it was working on a transport policy that is in line with the demands of the group of academics commuting from Maribor to Ljubljana on a daily basis who started the campaign for better transport connection between the two cities on Monday.
The initiative would like to cut the commuting time between the two cities to 50 minutes, while the train ride currently takes from two to three hours.
The head of the initiative, Mateja Ratej, noted that the Maribor-Ljubljana motorway, being a part of the transport corridor between eastern and western Europe, was heavily burdened, especially during holidays and in the summer.
"Traffic accidents are becoming increasingly frequent, causing tailbacks of several kilometres, which extend the 133-kilometre journey to several hours," she said.
The ministry said today it had already introduced a single integrated pass for public transport and additional fast routes. "We are modernising the existing and building new railway connections to have more cargo transported on rail and make the connections between cities faster, more cost-efficient, and more environment- and user-friendly."
According to the ministry, a task force will be set up to look into the possibilities for express trains between Ljubljana and Maribor and other cities, and estimate the costs of such a project.
The 50 Minutes Between Maribor and Ljubljana initiative was backed by the Maribor municipality and the List of Cyclists and Pedestrians.
"The situation has been causing discontent for a while and things get much worse in the summer months," Ratej said, calling for an action plan before the end of the year.
The initiative is now collecting signatures for its petition.
All our stories on railways in Slovenia are here
STA, 13 June 2019 - As the number of tourists visiting Slovenia with camper vans grows, so is the number of places where they can stop for rest. Since a project encouraging municipalities to provide rest stops was launched in 2014, their number has risen to 160 rest stops.
As part of the Network of Rest Stops for Camper Vans, a project launched by the the Mirna municipality in the south-east, 90 of Slovenia's 212 municipalities have various types of rest stops, ranging from places offering only water and electricity to full-fledged camping sites.
The idea is to get all Slovenian municipalities on board to construct another 40 new rest stops to get to 200, project coordinator Petra Krnc Laznik told the STA on Thursday, as representatives of the participating municipalities met in Mirna.
The local communities which have already provided some infrastructure for camper vans should now more actively attract guests and adjust their offerings to camper van tourists. "They should try to keep them in their area, offering them unique adventures and memorable moments," she said.
"There are 212 municipalities in Slovenia and each of them could have at least one place where camper vans are welcome and where tourists can experience something nice," said project manager Dušan Skerbiš, the mayor of Mirna. In this way Slovenia would get "212 interesting tourist destinations".
Krnc Laznik added that Slovenia was becoming increasingly popular among foreign camper van tourists who also seemed to be very happy with the rest places here.
The map of rest stops, and more details about them, can be found here