STA, 5 December 2019 - The government adopted on Thursday a 2020-2025 plan of investments in transport and transport infrastructure. Investments totalling EUR 5.6 billion are planned in the next six years.
Under the plan, the funds will be spent on air and maritime transport, investments in and reconstruction of state roads and toll roads, modernisation of railways, sustainable measures and traffic control.
EUR 653 million will be earmarked next year, EUR 718 million in 2021 and EUR 1.1 billion in the following year.
The funding will drop somewhat, to EUR 992.5 million in 2023, and will be almost level in 2024 (EUR 997.5 million), while reaching the highest annual value in 2025, EUR 1.15 billion.
Between EUR 431.9 million and EUR 453 million will be available annually for regular maintenance of roads and railways, and public transportation subsidies.
While the funding of railways and sustainable mobility is increasing, the amount of planned funds for state roads and toll roads is lower than that planned in the resolution on the national transport development programme.
The biggest departure is observed in roads, where investments in construction and reconstruction are being delayed for the coming years.
While the Infrastructure Agency received EUR 260 million and EUR 280 million in 2018 and 2019, respectively, as planned in the resolution, the funds are being reduced to EUR 212 million and EUR 213 million in 2020 and 2021.
The government said it would start revising next year the resolution to take into account the national energy and climate plan and studies of regional railway lines, including the Ljubljana railway hub.
STA, 22 November 2019 - The national railway operator Slovenske Železnice has announced that wireless internet access will be enabled in a total of 29 of its trains by the end of November, and in another three by the end of the year.
The process of upgrading the company's services with wireless internet will be continued next year, when Slovenske Železnice are expected to introduce new passenger trains manufactured by the Swiss company Stadler Rail.
The company told the Uporabna Stran portal on Friday that wireless internet access would be introduced in its Siemens Desiro and Pendolino trains.
It added that the signals from the telcos Telekom Slovenije and A1 Slovenija would be used to ensure the best possible coverage and connection speed.
Slovenske Železnice is awaiting the delivery of passenger trains from Stadler Rail, with 26 trains commissioned last April and another 26 this May. In total, the price tag has reached EUR 320 million, VAT excluded.
According to the national railway operator, these trains will be equipped with wireless internet access technology. First Stadler trains in Slovenia are expected to hit the rails in the spring of 2020.
STA, 18 September 2019 - The Amber Rail Freight Corridor, which connects industrial centres and inter-modal terminals in Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia, was formally launched in a ceremony in Koper on Wednesday. It has been operational since January as the first rail freight corridor established on the initiative of member states.
The corridor connects the Adriatic Sea - with Koper being the only maritime port within the corridor - with the Poland-Belarus border, and its position represents an alternative to the transport routes between the north and south of Europe.
The name Amber Rail Freight Corridor refers to the name of an important ancient trade route, which broadly followed the same alignment.
Gerhard Troche, the managing director of the project, said at the ceremony that the corridor was a platform which enabled all stakeholders to address joint issues and challenges.
These include differences in work processes, technical differences or different transport rules in countries, which cause delays and problems in international rail freight transport, he added.
Its purpose is to improve cross-border rail freight transport, Troche said, adding that "we operate on several levels", including relevant ministries in individual countries, operators of rail networks and advisory groups for railway infrastructure users.
He believes that the Amber Rail Freight Corridor is a great advantage compared to practice in the past, when a certain rail operators needed to communicate separately with stakeholders in each individual country.
"Communication has thus become much easier," Troche said, adding that the project also offered a one-stop-shop service for regulating issues related to transport capacities and providing information to clients.
Andrea Mosoczi, the chair of the management board, added that a study would be carried out which would help recognise open administrative, infrastructural and operational issues and priorities.
You can learn more about the project here
STA, 22 August 2019 - The EU Cohesion Fund is to contribute EUR 101 million for the renovation of the 16-kilometre rail section between Maribor and Šentilj on the border without Austria, the European Commission confirmed on Thursday. The entire upgrade is valued at EUR 254 million.
The Commission wrote it had taken into account the projected increase in traffic on the Baltic-Adriatic corridor that the section is a part of. The upgrade, which will also have positive economic effects, will increase the daily capacity of the section from 67 to 84 trains.
The renovation will also increase safety and Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc expressed the "hope this will convince people to leave their car home an opt for a greener transport option".
Contractors for some of segments of the project have already been picked and some of the works are already nearing completion, while the deadlines for the renovation of two rail stations on the route and for the construction of noise barriers are set in 2020 and the end of 2021 respectively.
The Maribor-Šentilj rail link runs across the hilly terrain of Slovenske Gorice and through two tunnels. It was already built in 1846 as part of the Southern Railway between Vienna and Trieste.
The link however only has one set of rails and plans exist for a second one. The Slovenian Infrastructure Agency has told the STA the decision on this will be taken depending on the transport needs and will also have to taken in Austria, where one segment also only allows for a single train. The agency expects another set of rails will be needed by 2039 at the latest.
STA, 13 August 2019 - Nearly two months after almost 11,000 litres of kerosene leaked from a derailed cargo train near the village of Hrastovlje in the south-west, the national railways operator completed repair works on Tuesday.
The final stage of works saw one of Slovenia's busiest routes closed since last Saturday, reopening tonight, as Slovenske Železnice replaced 150 metres of tracks.
The track reopened already four days after the 25 June derailment, but there was a speed limit in place in the tunnel where the accident took place.
Apart from replacing the tracks, the railway operator has also installed additional tarps under the tracks and improved the drainage system in the tunnel.
Some 11,000 litres of kerosene leaked from two damaged cisterns after six cars derailed in the tunnel of Dol due to a broken rail switch.
Shutting down the only track connecting the port of Koper with the rest of the country, many believe the incident showed that Slovenia really needed an additional railway link between Koper and the railway hub of Divača, a project that is finally underway after decades of back and forth.
Moreover, the accident happened quite close to the main source of potable water for the entire coastal region, whose population soars from 90,000 to about 130,000 during the summer. The water source is being monitored closely and so far no kerosene has been found in water.
In total, the repair works cost the rail operator EUR 1.5 million, the public broadcaster TV Slovenija reported on Monday. Moreover, the company suffered a loss of more than EUR 1 million per each day the track was fully closed.
STA, 14 August 2019 - A train has derailed at the Rimske Toplice train station for a second time in just a few days, closing down the railway line between Zidani Most and Maribor, a major artery for international passenger and cargo traffic.
The national railway operator Slovenske Železnice confirmed media reports that the engine of an international freight train and one of the rail cars derailed on Wednesday afternoon.
Matjaž Kranjc, the boss of the operator's infrastructure division, told the public broadcaster TV Slovenija that the incident occurred at 5:20pm as the 21-car train travelling between Koper and Hodoš on the border with Hungry arrived at the station.
The incident occurred at almost exactly the same spot at which two Hungarian passenger train carriages derailed eight days ago. None of the 200 passengers aboard the international train at the time was injured. The station was also the site of an accident in 2012.
The CEO of Slovenske Železnice Dušan Mes told the press last week that the accident was most likely due to a train carriage malfunction rather than flawed infrastructure.
The section of the railway between Zidani Most and Rimske Toplice is currently undergoing an upgrade, including of the Rimske Toplice station.
Asked why accidents at this section of the railway, Kranjc said that all of them occurred at a side bend at very low speeds.
As part of a comprehensive overhaul of the railway between Zidani Most and Celje, construction work is under way on the left track between Rimske Toplice and Laško, so this section of the railway is closed.
All trains coming from the direction of Zidani Most thus need to cross over to the right track on arrival at the Rimske Toplice station.
Kranjc could not say yet what caused the derailment, but said that the switch and the entire track at the section was in good condition and had been repaired after last week's derailment.
Firefighters are on the site examining the fuel spill from the engine. Police and Infrastructure Ministry investigators are also at work on the site.
Once they have completed their job, the engine will be put back on the rails, which should be completed during the night so that the railway could reopen on Thursday.
The official also announced an independent investigation into the cause of the incident. Until the findings are produced, traffic on the section will be restricted or adjusted.
For the duration of the railway's closure, passenger services will be provided by coaches.
STA, 7 August 2019 - The company managing construction of the new Divača-Koper rail track has annulled a public tender for the first of several bridges on the new track after weeks of very public controversy that has renewed concern about the mega project going off the rails financially.
"It has turned out that the cheapest bidder was not the best," Dušan Zorko, the head of 2TDK, told the press on Wednesday after the company determined the selected bidder had apparently forged its prior experience with the construction of such infrastructure.
A consortium led by Markomark Nival was initially selected to build a 170-metre bridge over Glinščica Valley. Its price, EUR 8 million, was significantly lower than rival bids by consortia led by Kolektor CGP (EUR 13.5 million) and Godina (EUR 14.3 million), but both have now been ruled as invalid because of excessive price.
Zorko said the tender would now be repeated as soon as possible. It will not be changed much, but 2TDK plans to impose a price cap. It also expects more builders to bid. "We had expected more offers, domestic and international. Unfortunately, there were only three."
The winning bid for the Glinščica bridge had originally been selected in mid-June, but it quickly became apparent things would not run smoothly.
One of the failed bidders reported noticing that an Excel spreadsheet form used to submit the bids had errors resulting in an incorrect final price, and then unofficial sources started questioning whether Markomark Nival, a little known builder, had in fact sufficient prior experience to build the bridge.
In general, Slovenian public tenders for construction projects tend to get bogged down in appeals and accusations that can significantly delay the start of construction works. The Karavanke tunnel expansion, for example, has been delayed by more than a year already as bidders fight it out among each other.
The popular perception is that the biggest construction industry players are adept at turning tenders in their favour, especially when they are up against foreign bidders.
In recent years two subsidiaries of industrial conglomerate Kolektor and the Murska Sobota builder Pomgrad in particular have been in the spotlight, having grown from mid-sized company into market leaders after the financial crisis bankrupted almost all major industry players.
Infrastructure Minister Alenka Bratušek, a staunch advocate of the EUR 1 billion-plus rail project, said today she supported the decision of 2TDK to annul the tender.
"I stand firmly behind their decision not to succumb to the construction lobby," she said, adding: "I will not permit old practices of siphoning [taxpayer] funds."
Referring to the bid headlined by Kolektor CPG, Bratušek said three of the largest Slovenian builders had joined forces for the bid, which is "an indication of the creation of a monopoly and the desire to overcharge for construction services."
"Despite attacks targeting me, I will not let builders rig the system and offer prices up to 40% higher in public tenders. If necessary, tenders will be repeated."
All out stories on infrastructure in Slovenia are here
Update: The railway is expected to reopen at 17:00 today (Tuesday, 06 August, 2019)
Two or three (reports differ) passenger train cars derailed at the Rimske Toplice train station at around 10:00 Tuesday morning, closing the railway line between Zidani Most and Maribor, a major transport link for both international passenger and cargo traffic. Around 200 people are said to have been on the international train, which was traveling towards Celje, although no injuries have been reported. A shuttle bus service is now being offered to replace the scheduled trains.
Updates to this story may be posted on the railway operator’s twitter account.
STA, 26 June 2019 - Six wagons of a freight train derailed on Tuesday afternoon in a tunnel near Hrastovlje in SW Slovenia, with a large quantity of the jet fuel kerosene leaking out from two cisterns. Transport on the railway has been suspended and there are also concerns that the leak might contaminate the local water supply system.
The response teams immediately started pumping out the remaining kerosene from the cisterns to prevent further leakage and managed to almost completely stop it by the evening.
According to Srečko Šestan, the head of the Civil Protection and Disaster Relief Administration, the problem is that the derailed wagons stand very close to the tunnel wall, which prevents the teams from accessing all leakage points.
Dušan Mes, the head of the national rail operator Slovenske Železnice, said that after the kerosene is pumped from all six derailed wagons, the would be removed from the tunnel and the work on repairing some 150 to 200 metres of damaged tracks would start.
Mes said the pumping would conclude by 2pm today and that the railway would be reopened for traffic on Friday. In the course of the day, it became clear that the cleanup effort would take a few hours longer, but relevant authorities still insisted that the track would reopen Friday.
According to Mes, the most probable cause of the accident is a damaged switch, while a damaged wagon is the less likely option. The possibility of a human error has been eliminated.
The kerosene is being pumped out by teams from the energy company Petrol and Slovenske Železnice, while firefighters are also helping out. It is estimated that some 10,000 litres of kerosene have leaked out of the cisterns.
The tracks in the tunnel are heavily damaged, which makes it difficult to get the pumped kerosene out of the tunnel, he added.
According to Mes, no one has been injured in the accident, except for one firefighter, who has sustained a light injury during the intervention.
The site of the accident is very close to the source of Rižana River, one of the water sources for the only water supply system of the entire coastal area, servicing up to 130,000 people during the summer.
The regional water supply operator and experts share the view that the kerosene is certain to reach the water source, during the first strong rainfall at the latest.
Measures have been taken to prevent the worst, the source has been cut off and monitoring has been put in place. Nataša Viršek Ravbar, a Karst researcher, said that the water source may remain polluted for a long time.
The Environment Ministry said it was closely monitoring the situation, adding that Minister Simon Zajc would inspect the site on Thursday.
Zajc, who is currently attending an EU ministerial in Luxembourg, has already agreed with his Croatian counterpart Tomislav Ćorić to stay in touch in the case that Slovenia needed Croatia's aid in drinking water supply.
As the railway has been closed for traffic, freight trains have been piling up in the port of Koper, with a total of 35 trains currently waiting in the port, the port operator Luka Koper said today.
While the the rail operator is making an effort to open the railway as soon as possible, the Luka Koper said it had advised its business partners to use cargo transport on the road in the meantime.
Luka Koper will be loading and unloading lorries in the port terminals also over the night to compensate for the closure, which means that significantly heavier cargo transport on the motorway in the coming days.
The site of the accident was also inspected yesterday by criminal police officers and forensics, as well as Infrastructure Minister Alenka Bratušek.
Giving a statement for the press today, Bratušek praised the response teams and once again underlined the need for a second rail track connecting the port to the inland hub of Divača.
Preparatory works have been launched recently for the project estimated at just over EUR 1bn, after years of back and forth. The 2TDK, the special purpose vehicle established by the government to oversee the construction, also said that the accident showed how much a new track is needed.
It added that the new, state-of-the art-track would avoid almost entirely the sensitive water supply area and that the tunnels are all planned with oil catchers, which means that any waste water would be caught in waste holdup tanks.
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.