STA, 3 January 2020 - At 12.08pm on Sunday the first Kočevje-bound passenger train since 1971 departed from the Ljubljana Rail Terminal as passenger service on the route resumed, bringing much needed mass transit to south Slovenia.
One of the first passengers on the first train was Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec, who said the resumption of service would alleviate road congestion, improve traffic safety and contribute to a cleaner environment.
"I think that after 50 years, this is one of the most important days for Ribnica, Kočevje and these places... The economy and tourism of the Ribnica-Kočevje region will be able to develop faster, people will be more mobile," Vrtovec said.
Ten trains per day will run between Ljubljana and Kočevje on workdays and eleven in the opposite direction. The journey will last between an hour and ten minutes to an hour and 25 minutes.
The Ljubljana-Kočevje rail was conceived in 1887 and construction started in 1892. The railway The railway was officially opened on 27 September 1893.
The development boosted the exports of brown coal and wood from the Kočevje and Ribnica region. In its heyday, up to 170,000 tonnes of coal and more than 130,000 tonnes of wood was transported per year.
Passenger trains were introduced simultaneously with freight transport. As of 1968, passenger trains only ran to Velike Lašče and after 1970 the line was completely abandoned and trains ran only to Grosuplje.
The track was no longer suitable for heavier modern trains and speeds were capped at 50 km/h. There were 81 level crossings. Cargo transport continued but was greatly scaled down.
The first phase of the overhaul started in 2008 and the final phase, the installation of signalling and telecommunications equipment, wrapped up at the end of last year.
Infrastructure Ministry data show the entire project cost in excess of EUR 100 million. Minister Vrtovec is convinced the investment was worth it.