Thursday, 30 April 2020

EU Ministers Discuss Impact of Coronavirus Crisis on Transport Sector

ZAGREB, April 30, 2020 - EU transport ministers on Wednesday discussed the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the transport sector, with emphasis on challenges to arise with the relaxation of restrictions in member-states, the Croatian Sea, Transport and Infrastructure Ministry said.

This was the second video-conference of EU transport ministers on the impact of the coronavirus on the transport sector, organised by the Croatian EU presidency.

The meeting was chaired by Minister Oleg Butković and it was also attended by European Transport Commissioner Adina Valean.

The ministers expressed satisfaction with the measures introduced so far but also underlined the need to continue cooperation with the aim of alleviating the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Butković said that in preparing an exit strategy one should consider coordinated measures that are proportionate and non-discriminatory and take into account possible risks as well as find solutions for the financial obligations of businesses and hauliers affected by the crisis in the transport sector.

Also discussed at the meeting were current measures such as the impact of green corridors on maintaining supply chains. The ministers also called for caution given the expected increase in traffic in the coming period.

Commissioner Valean presented a set of additional measures adopted by the European Commission Wednesday to alleviate the impact of the crisis on the transport sector, and the ministers agreed about the need to adopt a coordinated approach in restoring connectivity and mobility and asked for the immediate implementation of sectoral guidelines for the gradual relaxation and lifting of restrictions.

Also participating in the conference, at Croatia's invitation, were Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

More news about Croatia and the EU can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Construction of A5 Motorway Within European Corridor Vc Continues

ZAGREB, April 28, 2020 - A HRK 443 million agreement for the construction of the A5 motorway subsection "Beli Manastir - Halašica Bridge" within the pan-European Vc transport corridor was signed on Tuesday in east Croatia.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, who attended the contract-signing ceremony at the Drava Bridge at Petrijevci, underlined that the strategic importance of the construction of the full-profile 17.5 -kilometre-long section of the motorway.

Plenković expressed his satisfaction because the financing from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Croatian Bank for Reconstruction and Development (HBOR) had been secured for the project.

The project is expected to be implemented over the next two years.

He thanked Osijek-Baranja County Prefect Ivan Anušić who had been persistent in highlighting the importance of the project for his county. Furthermore, the route will connect Croatia with Hungary and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"I think that investment will contribute to Slavonia's economic growth. It fits in with this government's intention through the Slavonia, Baranja and Srijem project to extend a hand of development to Slavonia and to take a step that will enable Slavonia to develop equally as fast as other area of Croatia," Plenković said.

Transport and Infrastructure Minister Oleg Butković assessed that it was good that works on the Vc corridor were advancing even during the crisis caused by the coronavirus.

That shows, Butković underscored, that the government has not backed down from large infrastructure projects including the continuation of works on Peljesac Bridge, the Istria Y motorway, the Vc corridor but also large railway projects with a total value of HRK 20 billion.

Butković assessed that today's agreement is a step toward Croatia's aim of building its section of the Vc corridor as soon as possible which extended for 702 kilometres from the Hungarian capital of Budapest to the southern Croatian seaport of Ploče. According to Butković, the construction of the pan-European motorway through Croatia, will be completed by the end of 2023.

Butković rejected the idea that the continuation of construction of the corridor was part of an election campaign, saying that the project had been prepared for some time and that it was necessary to obtain all the relevant permits and financial construction.

The CEO of the Croatian motorways operator HAC, Boris Huzjan announced that the project of constructing the final five kilometres of the motorway from Beli Manastir to the Hungarian border is being prepared.

He informed that the Svilaj Bridge across the Sava River connecting Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina has been completed thus completing the 85 kilometres of full profile motorway between the eastern Croatian city of Beli Manastir and the Bosnian border.

More transport news can be found in the Business section.

Friday, 24 April 2020

Butković Rules Out Seasonal Increase in Motorway Toll Prices

ZAGREB, April 24, 2020 - Transport and Infrastructure Minister Oleg Butković said on Friday that this summer there would be no seasonal increase in motorway toll prices.

While touring the construction works at a section of the Istrian Y motorway, Butković also hinted at the possibility of lowering the motorway toll tariffs for Croatian nationals.

"We are considering a model whereby we and the tourist sector could encourage local people to go on holidays this summer. Therefore, the price of motorway tolls could be lower. However, we will decide on that in due course," said Butković.

Commenting on the government's plan to phase out the coronavirus containment measures, which would include the gradual restoration of public transport services, Butković said that epidemiologists would define rules for passengers using public transport.

Wearing protective masks will be obligatory and social distancing measures will have to be obeyed. Buses and trains will probably allow a smaller number of passengers.

Butković announced the reintroduction of flight services twice a day between Zagreb and Split and Zagreb and Dubrovnik as of 11 May.

The question mark remains over the re-establishment of international air transport, according to the minister.

More transport news can be found in the Travel section.

Friday, 17 April 2020

Certain Restrictions in Transport Sector Should Be Relaxed

ZAGREB, April 17, 2020 - Transport Minister Oleg Butković said on Thursday that certain coronavirus-related restrictions in the transport sector should be relaxed, proposing the gradual restoration of public city and suburban rail transport.

"As for public transport, we believe that it should be restored gradually, and public city transport should operate according to the Sunday timetable," Butković told the commercial RTL television channel when asked what measures he would propose to the prime minister to help life get back to normal.

He said that they were also proposing gradual restoration of suburban rail transport in the Zagreb area according to the Sunday timetable.

In maritime transport, the ministry will propose restoration of the line between Zadar and Ancona for cargo transport and some catamaran routes. Butković said that this would be done in line with social distancing rules and all the recommendations made by epidemiologists.

As for the organisation of truck convoys through Croatia, Butković pointed out the need for such convoys no longer to be conducted under police escort but to designate the places where the drivers would be allowed to stop over.

Asked about possible arrivals of foreign tourists, Butković said that as far as air transport and possible arrivals of Czech tourists were concerned, this should not be a problem operationally. However, he stressed that this would depend on the epidemiological situation both in the Czech Republic and in Croatia.

He said that opening road corridors was not possible for now, but that they would continue to monitor the situation. "We will monitor the situation, and if there is a drop in the number of coronavirus cases for six or seven days in a row, we will be ready for such scenarios as well," he said.

Butković also announced the possibility of motorway tolls being reduced by 10-20 percent for Croatian citizens during the summer months.

He said that the government would do all in its power to save transport companies, adding that this was also a problem at EU level and that they would seek a solution at the level of all EU countries as to how to help the transport sector.

More coronavirus news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Thursday, 5 March 2020

GLAS Urges Government to Regulate Electric Scooters

ZAGREB, March 5, 2020 - The leader of the opposition liberal party GLAS, Anka Mrak Taritaš, on Thursday again urged the government to regulate electric scooters so as to prevent possible road accidents.

"Amend the Road Safety Act as urgently as possible before something serious happens," Mrak Taritaš said at a press conference after the government rejected the amendments to that effect put forward by GLAS.

GLAS proposed that electric scooter drivers, who are still treated as pedestrians under the law, should be required to wear high-visibility vests and helmets and to have appropriate lights on their vehicles.

The parliamentary Committee on Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure today rejected our proposal by five votes against, although it includes concrete and well-balanced solutions for all road users concerned, GLAS MP Nada Turina Đurić said.

"It is intolerable that in a law-governed country in the 21st century the driving of thousands of electric scooters is not regulated, and risks are great," she said.

More politics news can be found in the dedicated section.

Sunday, 5 January 2020

Meeting Held on Construction of New Bypass, Bridge in Northern Croatia

ZAGREB, January 5, 2020 - A meeting was held in Mursko Središće on Saturday on transport investment aimed at relieving traffic through Croatia's northernmost border town, attended by Croatia's foreign and economy ministers, the mayor and the heads of neighbouring Slovenian and Hungarian municipalities.

The meeting focused on the construction of a bypass and a bridge across the Mura river, which requires the construction of a junction in Slovenia.

Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said the meeting was an "excellent example which fits into the priorities of a Europe that connects."

"The bypass in Croatia's northernmost town will resolve citizens' problems, but it's necessary to agree a junction with Slovenia," he said, adding that this problem must be resolved as soon as possible not only because of Mursko Središće but also because of the cross-border aspect as it concerned Croatia, Slovenia and Hungary and nearby Austria.

Economy Minister Darko Horvat said this was a direct contribution of a government meeting that was held in Čakovec.

"Since the government meeting, Croatian Roads has conducted certain studies and this project has been given full justification both from Croatia and the European Commission," he said, adding that in order for the project to continue, Croatia and Slovenia should agree on a junction.

Horvat said the Foreign Ministry would organise a meeting on January 8 concerning the junction so that Croatian Roads could continue to work on the project documentation. He said the project was estimated at 150 million kuna and that funding was expected as part of the EU's 2021-27 budget.

Mursko Središće mayor Drazen Srpak said he was pleased the meeting was attended by the head of the neighbouring Slovenian municipality of Lendava, Janez Magyar, who supported the project.

More transport news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

More than 2.7 Billion Euro Being Invested in Croatia's Transport System

ZAGREB, December 18, 2019 - Transport and Infrastructure Minister Oleg Butković said on Tuesday that currently investments worth more than 20 billion kuna were being implemented in Croatian transport infrastructure.

Asked to comment on the suggestion by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to Croatia to increase investments in the railway sector, Minister Butković said that a lot of investment were being made in the transport infrastructure.

He announced that on Friday a 500 million kuna contract on works on the Vukovar-Vinkovci railway would be signed. Also, on 27 December, a contract worth 311 million euro to upgrade the Hrvatski Leskovac-Karlovac railway would be signed. The latter agreement ensues after on 12 December the European Commission approved an investment of more than 311 million euro from the Cohesion Fund to upgrade the 44-km Hrvatski Leskovac-Karlovac section of the Zagreb-Rijeka railway, which is a highly populated area and one of Croatia's main logistics centres.

According to a report made by the IMF mission, in order to achieve higher living standards, in terms of transportation infrastructure, the country "already has a good network of roads."

"Investment in ports on the coast are also underway. However, to make these ports fully productive, investment in railways—particularly for freight purposes—also needs to occur." Investments in both solid waste and waste-water treatment are also high priority areas, reads the report issued on Monday.

Considering this suggestion, Finance Minister Zdravko Marić said in his response to reporters that the roads and motorways sector had been successfully overhauled.

As far as the Croatian railways are concerned, a good model should be conceived to spur investments in the infrastructure and enhance the quality of services and competitiveness, and all this on a viable financial basis, said Marić.

More transport news can be found in the Travel section.

Friday, 13 December 2019

GLAS Wants to Regulate Electric Scooters

ZAGREB, December 13, 2019 - The GLAS opposition party has sent to parliament a bill of amendments to the law on road traffic safety to regulate electric scooters, which the current law list among pedestrians, and prevent accidents.

GLAS warns that for driving an electric scooter, some of which can reach a speed of 40/h, it is not required to have a driver's licence, helmet or high visibility vest, and that they drive without restrictions on the pavement, bike paths, roads and motorways.

GLAS proposes introducing the name "small electric vehicle" for electric scooters, and welcomes their use as they do not pollute the environment or congest traffic.

"Some countries have noticed in time the increase in the number of these vehicles and have regulated them by law. Given the trends, there will be more and more of them here as well, so it's better to immediately regulate them and prevent possible accidents, instead of changing the law in fast track procedure," MP Anka Mrak Taritaš told the press on Thursday.

MP Nada Turina Đurić said having a completely unregulated area was worse than having a poor law.

"With the amendments, we wish to restrict the behaviour of these new participants in traffic because in Zagreb there are already thousands of them. We propose that they must use existing bike paths, so we call on cities to designate more bike paths. Where there are no bike paths, they should use the pavement, and only when neither is available, they would be allowed to use roads, but only in urban areas, definitely not in long-distance traffic. That's why we call on local governments to take a more active part in regulating this type of traffic," she said.

The bill bans electric scooter drivers from consuming alcohol, obliges them to wear high visibility vests and helmets and to light their vehicles.

"We wish to limit the speed and increase safety, we wish to legalise all that because now, if an accident happens, it's not clear how to treat scooter drivers," Turina Đurić said.

More transportation news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Monday, 25 November 2019

Investments in Transport Infrastructure Worth More Than 2.7 Billion Euro

ZAGREB, November 25, 2019 - Transport and Infrastructure Minister Oleg Butković on Monday said that investments in Croatia's transport infrastructure were valued at more than 20 billion kuna and that most of these investments went to the road sector.

Butković was attending a conference on the future of Croatia's transport system, organised by the Via Vita roads' association, about current road, railway, sea and air transport and of the strategy, financing, public procurement, and construction of infrastructure.

Commenting on the ongoing projects, he cited the future Pelješac Bridge, a bypass road around Omiš, an access road to the Rijeka ring road and so on.

Speaking of procurement procedures, Butković made reference to long appeals procedures which often make it difficult to close financial constructions for various projects.

He added that the law that regulates this has been aligned with EU directives and that a balance needs to be found so that appeals processes are resolved more quickly and that possible abuse is diminished.

As for road transport investments, he also mentioned projects referring to the infrastructure within the pan-European 5C corridor, the motorway to Sisak, the Istria Y-motorway and the future, second tunnel through Učka as well as completing the Zagreb-Macelj motorway and fast roads in Zagorje, Bjelovar.

"We need to be grateful for EU funds, which help us to resolve large investment," he underscored and added that along with economic growth, Croatia's budget is all the more stable and is opening opportunities for the country to slowly resolve the question of investments from the state budget in collaboration with international institutions.

More transport news can be found in the Business section.

Saturday, 24 August 2019

Number of Transported Passengers Down in Second Quarter

ZAGREB, August 24, 2019 - A total of 21.7 million passengers were transported in Croatia in the second quarter of 2019, down by 2.1% in comparison to the Q2 2018, while the volume of transported goods increased by 8.1%, according to the data released by the national statistical office (DZS).

Broken down by passenger transportation mode, only the transport of passengers by air recorded a rise, AND Air passenger transport had a 4.8% rise to 637,000 passengers.

On the other hand, the transport by bus, by sea and by rail saw a decline in the Q2 this year. In Q2, 5.1 million passengers were transported by rail, down 3% compared to Q2 2018.

The number of passengers using road transport fell by 2.4% to 12.1 million, and local maritime ferry companies registered a drop of 0.8% to 3.8 million passengers.

More news about transport issues can be found in the Business section.

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