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High level of agreement noted for further railway infrastructure development

Koper, Borovnica, 14 November 2014 – the Minister of Infrastructure, Peter Gašperšič, President of the Management Board of the Port of Koper, Dragomir Matić, General Manager of DRI Investment Management Ltd, Jurij Kač, and Director General of the Slovenian Railways, Dušan Mes, accompanied by their staff, joined a freight train demonstration journey between Koper and Borovnica.

The purpose of the journey was to show the current conditions on the Koper–Ljubljana railway line, the scope of damage caused by glaze ice in February, and reconstruction works on the railway track. A working meeting between the management of the three companies and the Ministry of Infrastructure was also held on the train.
Before the train ride, the participants made a tour of the port; at Koper Freight Station, they boarded a train carrying 1,500 tons of freight headed for Ljubljana. During the journey they viewed the reconstruction works, watched the switch from an electric to a diesel locomotive and observed the general traffic flow at this section of the railway line that was severely damaged by this year’s glaze. The ride took three hours because of the slow travelling speed, trains passing and the scope of reconstruction works on the line; the Minister and the heads of the three companies took the opportunity to spend some time in the electric train driver’s cabin.
Minister Gašperšič said that he was given the opportunity to get thoroughly acquainted with two infrastructure systems of vital importance for the country, namely the Port of Koper and the “first track” of the Koper–Ljubljana railway line. The working meeting held on the train was primarily focused on the options to increase the line’s capacity and on views, opinions and opportunities concerning implementation of the second track project. Most attention was devoted to seeking an appropriate funding structure; the participants agreed on the necessity to also attract funding outside the budget, i.e. in public–private partnership. Minister Gašperšič was primarily interested in the views of the two directors about possible ways of funding the project; a high level of agreement was found among the participants on harmonising and exploring together in more detail the various aspects of funding in the near future. The participants of the meeting will therefore expand their discussion in this direction.
As President of the Management Board of the Port of Koper, Mr Matić expected an increasing trend in transhipment, rendering the existing track a bottleneck in 2018: “The experts believe this to be the critical point when the existing track will become saturated. Our customers have already voiced their concerns, particularly those that plan to increase railway transhipment.”
Mention must be made in this context that over 56% of the total freight trans-shipping from the harbour at Koper is handled through the railway – approximately 10.1 million tons of goods in the last year. Last year, as much as 432,634 wagons were loaded and unloaded in Koper and 54 trains arrived to and departed from the port per day.
At the working meeting the representatives of the Ministry, the Port of Koper, DRI and Slovenian Railways also discussed future plans and urgent investments in railway infrastructure. Foreign analyses and examples show that one euro invested in infrastructure construction generates multiplier effects in the economy and one billion euros of investments in infrastructure construction will create or preserve over 17,000 jobs. High-quality infrastructure significantly increases accessibility and facilitates economic development.
The Director General of Slovenian Railways, Mr Mes, said that the meeting was very productive and positive and added: “The quantity of freight at this section has been increasing; we know the infrastructure situation, and the fact is that all goods must be transported while the track is being completed and reconstructed. Despite all the difficulties, we are, together with the Port of Koper, highly competitive, which is also shown by the growing number of contracts.
Slovenian Railways have been constantly increasing the volume of transported freight and the scope of work. Despite infrastructure limitations and bottlenecks on the railway network between Ljubljana and Koper, rail freight services and infrastructure maintenance have been running smoothly and safely. On several sections the tracks in Slovenia are run almost to their maximum capacity. This year Slovenian Railways and the Port of Koper are planning for further growth in terms of scope of work and income, and this must be followed by upgrading the rail lines and investing in them if Slovenia wishes to continue to provide transport services of high quality to its business partners.
With today’s demonstration journey and the closer links forged between key Slovenian logistics players and the Ministry of Infrastructure, a big step forward has been made, from understanding the problems that the bottlenecks on certain railway sections create for the Slovenian economy towards creating concrete plans for the future.