STA, 3 November 2021 - The upgrade of a 26-kilometre railway section between Zidani Most and Celje in eastern Slovenia was declared completed at a ceremony on Wednesday which heard the project cost EUR 230 million, which is about EUR 50 million less that the initial cost estimate.
Addressing the ceremony in Celje, Aleš Mihelič, a state secretary at the Infrastructure Ministry, said the investment tackled one of the weak points on the national rail network that had not been able to support heavy and long train compositions.
"The upgrade has increased the throughput, shortened travel times and made railway transport more comfortable and, above all, safer," the official said.
As a result, the capacity of what this section of the main railway between the Zidani Most junction and the Šentilj crossing with Austria has increased from 328 to 354 trains per day.
The project, for which Slovenia obtained EUR 90 million in EU funds, also involved modernisation of related infrastructure, including bridges, grade-separated crossings, and renovation of railway stations in Celje, Laško and Rimske Toplice.
Mihelič also noted the EUR 90 million EU-subsidised project underway to upgrade the Pragersko rail junction, one of the main rail hubs in the country.
He said the government was intent on investing a great deal of attention and money to make the railways more competitive with the motorway and road network.
As soon as the core rail network is modernised up to the standard seen in advanced countries, the government is also planning to focus on regional railways and new competitive rail links.
The Infrastructure Ministry has been working on a "visionary and ambitious" plan of investment into rail infrastructure for the next 30 years, which Mihelič indicated would cost about EUR 12 billion. Half a million euro has been ringfenced for the purpose in each of the budgets for the next two years.