STA, 19 May 2020 - Plans have been set in motion to upgrade the railway network in the greater Ljubljana area, with the Infrastructure Ministry determining the existing railways leading from Ljubljana to Kamnik in the north and to the south-eastern border as priority.
The ministry said on Tuesday that Minister Jernej Vrtovec had tasked the public company for public railway infrastructure engineering to start siting the projects.
The task has been commissioned based on an ongoing feasibility study related to upgrades of regional railway lines in Slovenia and the railway network in the greater Ljubljana area, officially called the Ljubljana Urban Region.
"The results of the study suggests that siting activities for the existing Kamnik railway - expanding it to two tracks and electrifying it - should be initiated as soon as possible," the ministry said.
As for the south-eastern railway leading to the border town of Metlika, the ministry said that it should be electrified and gradually expanded to two tracks, depending on the needs.
When it comes to the railway between Ljubljana and Vrhnika, some 20 km south-west, the ministry said that synergies should be sought with the road infrastructure to secure sustainable mobility.
All activities are expected to be focused on developing infrastructure for integrated public passenger transport, with the main goal being to reduce travel times and to make passenger train schedules more attractive to users.
STA, 27 March 2020 - 2TDK, the state company managing the construction of the new railway between the port of Koper and Divača, has signed an EU 8.5 million contract with a consortium led by Markomark Nival on the construction of bridges across the Glinščica Valley, one of the first large structures on the new track.
The contract covers the construction of two bridges, which is expected to take 15 months. Under initial plans, the work should start in August and finish in November 2021.
The EU is to fund 85% of the Glinščica Valley project. However, missing the December 2021 deadline for the completion of the project would result in the European funding needing to be returned. To catch the deadline, work would need to begin in mid-2020 at the latest.
The contract was signed on Friday by 2TDK director general Dušan Zorko and director Marko Brezigar. Due to coronavirus measures, Markomark CEO Nival Marko Peter and Ekorel CEO Zoran Pogačar signed it separately.
The signing of the contract comes after the consortium, which won the public tender for the first of several bridges on the planned new Koper-Divača railway, was rejected over flawed documentation but was later successful with its appeal. Markomark Nival was asked to supplement its file.
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.