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Munich– Istanbul: a railway line of the future

“Munich–Istanbul: a railway line of the future”, an international conference organised by the Ministry of Transport at Brdo pri Kranju came to an end last week. Participants included ministers, state secretaries and other representatives of the ministries of the countries situated along this railway line, i.e. Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Serbia and Turkey.

A well-developed and interlinked transport network within the EU, also including its neighbouring countries and the countries clearly expressing their interest in approaching the EU, facilitates the implementation of development goals of economic, social and territorial cohesion. Among these, the movement of goods, accessibility of services, area interconnection and improved utilisation of regional potentials are of key importance.

Therefore, modernisation of the railway network in Slovenia, and consequently improved flow of railway traffic in the country are among the current priorities of the Ministry of Transport. The ministry would like to upgrade the discussion on the railway traffic on Munich–Istanbul transport axis and thus strengthen the basis of railway links and cooperation of all the countries situated along this transport connection, with the aim of rendering the linkage of two markets of almost 80 million people more efficient. According to the Minister of Transport, Patrick Vla čič, the host of the conference at Brdo pri Kranju, the very aim of this event was to seek solutions in terms of improving traffic flow, reducing the duration of transport, modernising infrastructure, increasing the efficiency of traffic management, eliminating administrative barriers and expediting customs procedures. 

Thus, yesterday, the railway line of the future, the current situation regarding the Munich–Istanbul railway axis and practical solutions regarding the improvement of traffic on that axis were discussed by our Minister of Transport with the following participants: the Turkish Minister of Transport Binali Yildirim, Bulgarian State Secretary at the Ministry of Transport Ivailo Moskovski, Assistant to the Serbian Minister of Railway and Intermodal Transport Dejan Lasica, and the Croatian Minister of Transport Božidar Kalmeta; the conference was also attended by Thomas Siegel from the Federal Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology of Austria, and by Jürgen Papajewski from the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development of the Federal Republic of Germany.

In his opening address, Minister Patrick Vlačič emphasised that ‘the transport axis has been gaining in importance in the context of EU TEN-T network renovation’, and added: ‘If we really wish to include the Western Balkan countries into common economic consolidation and integration, if we wish to strengthen the economic integration further to the East with the inclusion of Turkey, and if we wish to implement to the letter the cohesion policy among the EU Member States, EU candidate states, and the states clearly expressing their interest in EU membership, then we have to join forces to make the Munich–Salzburg–Ljubljana–Zagreb–Niš–Sofia–Istanbul axis part of the future EU priority network.’
The conference participants presented the current state of affairs and the plans that they have regarding the railway infrastructure in their respective territories, as well as the projects underway to increase the efficiency of railway transport. The participants agreed on their common key objective – reduction of time needed for the transport of goods on this axis. They also agreed upon the measures necessary to achieve this objective, i.e. the construction of appropriate infrastructure and the improvement of its management.

In his informal conclusion at the end of the conference, Minister Vlačič announced the setting up of three working groups consisting of senior representatives of the ministries of the countries along the railway axis. They will be in charge of three areas: infrastructure, where the objective is to coordinate plans for the acceleration of construction or modernisation; infrastructure management, which will focus on the elimination of administrative barriers and expediting of the necessary procedures; and promotion, which will contribute to greater visibility. All this should follow the track towards greater competitiveness with the reduction of (transport) times, correct pricing policy and effective promotion.