The Slovenia Times

Minister Promises Second Track Remains Priority


He said it was key for the planned second track between Koper and Divača to get as much EU funding as possible, which would also make it easier to find a private partner for the project, now estimated at EUR 1.4bn.

"We will therefore propose to the government that we compete with the project in calls for applications for the remaining cohesion envelope funds. This means it will be possible to get more than 30% for the project that is available in an open call."

The minister would not speculate on how much more EU funds could be obtained for the project. He merely explained that theoretically the cofunding threshold in calls for cohesion envelopes was up to 85%.

He announced that a public tender would be released later this month for an audit of the project's estimated value and an analysis of possible optimisations.

The potential for rationalisation exists, he said, referring to a recently released study by the OECD.

The second track is now planned for cargo and passenger transport, so train speeds of up to 160km an hour are planned, as is an evacuation tunnel.

If the second track was only built for freight trains, savings of up to EUR 100m could be made, Gašperšič said, adding that some other possibilities would have to be examined but there was little room for any major changes to the planned route.

Once the options for savings are examined, the interest of private partners would be tested. In the meantime, building permits for the track are being acquired with the final permit expected early in 2016.

Gašperšič underscored the importance of the project for the country's development prospects and for the planned development of Luka Koper. "But we need to carry out certain tasks to realise it."

Looking at other tasks ahead for his ministry, Gašperšič said the key job at hand was to secure adequate funds for the investment maintenance of the road and railway networks.

The priorities will be defined in an operative programme by the end of the year. The idea is to have "the critical situation of now virtually entire national road network reduced to 50% of the roads in six years".

Talks are under way with the Finance Ministry on the amount of funding, but Gašperšič said EUR 200m was needed a year for investment maintenance of state roads and a further EUR 100m for rail infrastructure.

The combined figure is much more than about EUR 150m raised through the annual levy for the use of roads.

For 2016 the ministry plans the establishment of a national traffic management centre. Another priority project is integrating public passenger transportation.

The minister also underscored the overhaul of buildings to increase their energy efficiency, which he said was a priority for the government and would get a new impetus in the EU's new financial perspective.


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