Monday, 23 May 2022

HŽ Zagreb-Pula Train Needs 22 Hours and 43 Minutes to Travel 267 km?

My 23, 2022 - Croatian train travel has never been applauded for its efficiency, especially when one HŽ Zagreb-Pula train needs almost 23 hours to travel 267 kilometers. 

A screenshot from the official Croatian Railways (HŽ) website has recently been spread on social networks, showing just how long it will take HŽ passengers to travel from the central railway station in Zagreb to Pula, reports

The distance from the central railway station in Zagreb to Pula, according to Google Maps, is 267 kilometers.

Since HŽ does not have direct trains on the Zagreb-Pula route, the official HŽ Passenger Transport website offers several travel options - one with three transfers and one option with two transfers.

The shortest HŽ ride from Zagreb to Pula takes just under 9 hours

If you take Croatian Railways to get from Zagreb to Pula today, however, you will ride for at least 8 hours and 48 minutes. According to the schedule, the train departs at 1:12 pm and will arrive in Pula at 10 pm after two transfers. The price for one passenger in one direction is 73 kuna and 10 lipa.

The longest ride takes an incredible 22 hours and 43 minutes

However, if you decide to leave about an hour later, or at 2:22 pm, you will arrive in Pula only tomorrow after 22 hours and 43 minutes of traveling and three transfers.

The travel length, in other terms, is not much better: Only two options offer a travel length of fewer than 9 hours, and there are travel options that take 12 hours and 15 minutes, 19 hours and 45 minutes, 18 hours and 33 minutes, and 15 hours and 19 minutes.

Now, anyone choosing to drive this 267 km route can make it from Zagreb to Pula in just over 3 hours. Croatia Airlines even has non-stop and connecting flights from Zagreb to Pula that'll get you there even quicker (though at a much higher price).

Those of us in Croatia already know that Croatian Railways is unlikely anyone's go-to for traveling around Croatia, especially with so many bus options and the Bla Bla ride-sharing evolution. And if you need further proof of Croatian travel failures - just check out this two-day Slavonian train adventure traveling just 83 km away!

For more, check out our travel section.


Sunday, 17 April 2022

10 Years Ago HZ Ordered New Trains for €1.66 Billion, Where Are They?

April the 17th, 2022 - A decade ago, HZ (Croatian railways) purchased 44 new trains for the mind-boggling price of 1.66 billion kuna, but where are they today?

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Jadranka Dozan writes, in order to procure seven new diesel-electric motor trains, the Croatian Government gave the "green light" to HZ Putnicki prijevoz (CR Passenger transport) to sign pre-financing and lease agreements with EUROFIMA - the European Society for Financing the Procurement of Railway Materials. The value of this financing stands at a massive 31 million euros.

When it comes to the renewal of HZ Putnicki prijevoz's fleet, ten years ago, as part of the strategic goals of restructuring, the government "appointed" a plan worth 1.66 billion kuna for the purchase of a total of 44 new passenger trains - 32 being electric and 12 being diesel-electric.

A few years later (more precisely back in 2014), sales were agreed with Koncar - HZ PP Electric Vehicles, and in the same year financing was provided for a total of 33 such trains.

A total of 29 electric trains have been delivered so far, and the remaining three deliveries are expected to arrive later this year. In the case of diesel-electrics, all five had financing provided for them (one loan from HBOR, and four from an IBRD loan).

For the remaining seven vehicles, funding is being provided through EUROFIME, with delivery being promised by the end of 2024, thus completing the major procurement project.

In addition to approving these requests from HZ Putnicki prijevoz, in order to finance the reconstruction and modernisation of Croatian railway infrastructure on projects not financed from European Union (EU) funds and international development banks, the Croatian Government also approved a request from HZ Infrastruktura (Infrastructure) for two loans from HBOR in the amount of 200 million kuna.

These are loans envisaged by the Financing Plan for the year 2022 and projections for the coming years of 2023 and 2024. The explanation states, among other things, that the debt balance of Infrastruktura for total credit loans at the end of January amounts to 1.78 billion kuna.

For more, make sure to check out our business section.

Friday, 14 January 2022

Direct Railway Line Between Bjelovar and Split Will Start this Summer

January 14, 2022 - The Bjelovar-Bilogora County has managed to reach an agreement with HŽPP, and Bjelovar will be connected to the Adriatic by a direct railway line for the first time from July 1st, this year.

The seasonal tourist train will run once a day on the route Osijek-Virovitica-Bjelovar-Zagreb-Split, reports HrTurizam.

It will depart from Osijek at 8 pm, in Bjelovar at 11.35 pm, and at its final destination in Split it should arrive at 8.42 am. Return from Split is planned every day at 22.06 hours, the train would arrive in Bjelovar at 8.11 hours, and in Osijek at 11.36 hours. The line will run until August 27.

"The direct railway line that will connect Bjelovar to the Adriatic for the first time is the result of our efforts and talks we started last autumn. We are extremely pleased with the agreement reached with HŽPP and consider it important progress in connecting Bjelovar with other parts of Croatia," said the prefect Marko Marušić, who talked with the representatives of HŽPP about the better connection of Bjelovar with Zagreb and the possibility of introducing a student train from Bjelovar to Zagreb.

Namely, children and students of primary and secondary schools will be able to travel for free, in accordance with the Conclusion of the Government of the Republic of Croatia on the introduction of a pilot project of free public rail transport, which is in force until the end of this year.

Recall, this pilot project includes unlimited daily train journeys from the place of residence to the place of schooling and occasional trips, such as day trips, trips to the doctor, on vacations and other trips in the 2nd class of regular trains.

If you want to learn more about train travel in Croatia, be sure to check Total Croatia's guide HERE. Now available in your language!

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

Thursday, 23 December 2021

Travelling from Zagreb to Rijeka by Rail? You Might Want to Reconsider

Railway connectivity between the capital and the biggest Croatian port has been more than inadequate lately, with no express lines available and a single direct line in operation

Rijeka city councillors Ivana Prica and Kristian Čarapić of SDP criticised the poor railway connectivity between Rijeka and Zagreb at a recent press conference, reported Novi list (Marinko Glavan). The councillors demanded that the Croatian Railways (HŽ) reinstate the high-speed train line between Rijeka and Zagreb that was scrapped last year.

‘The last remaining express service operating on the route Rijeka-Zagreb-Osijek was cancelled on December 24th of last year, while the express line Zagreb-Rijeka-Zagreb has been scrapped even earlier. It thus became impossible to travel by rail from Rijeka to Zagreb and back on the same day. It’s shameful that the capital city and the biggest port in Croatia aren't better connected in terms of railway passenger transport’, they said.

A quick search of the HŽ booking page reflects the painful reality of travelling by rail in Croatia. Not only is there no express service between Rijeka and Zagreb, but there’s only one direct line connecting the two cities at present. That particular trip takes 4.5 hours, a tedious ride compared to 2 - 2.5 hours it takes to get to the capital by bus or little over 1.5 hours if you’re travelling by car.


Other four available services involve a change of train halfway through and take anywhere from 5.5 hours for an early morning service to almost 11 hours in case of a night line:


Trip duration listed on the timetable is the best case scenario. The site warns that ‘due to work on certain sections of the railway, deviations from the published timetable are possible’. This is a frequent occurrence that’s more than likely to extend the duration of your trip by an hour or two and involves a transfer from a train to a bus.

The timetable could use some work as well. The only direct line departs from Rijeka at 1:58 PM and arrives in Zagreb at 6:29 PM. It’s unclear who would find this convenient, as you’d technically waste half a day before departure and would effectively be forced to stay in Zagreb overnight in case you need to get anything done.

There are two morning lines, departing at 5:30 and 7:35 AM, but they only arrive in the capital at 11 AM and 12:42 PM respectively. If you opted for one of these, you’d have no way of getting back to Rijeka on the same day, unless you were willing to either hop on a return train an hour after your arrival, or endure a 13-hour overnight train ride. Here’s the schedule:


The only direct line from Zagreb to Rijeka departs at 8 in the morning and also has a 4.5 hour trip duration. The timetable doesn’t match a normal workday schedule, and frequent travellers on this route - such as college students - essentially don’t have a choice but to travel by bus.

It’s a shame, as travelling by rail is not only more comfortable than taking a bus, but is also the most sustainable mode of passenger and freight transport.

Bus lines between Zagreb and Rijeka (and vice versa) are much more frequent, with several companies operating on the route and departing every hour or so throughout the day.

There’s not much to complain about on that front, except if you were looking to make a day trip to Zagreb during the holiday season. The last Zagreb-Rijeka bus departs at 7 PM on most days (weekends included), so if you were hoping to revel in the festive spirit of Advent in Zagreb, you’d be limited to daytime activities.

Arguably, Christmas markets are best enjoyed in the evening, and you’d have an hour or so to get a cup of mulled wine and appreciate the sparkling lights before hurrying back to the bus station. This goes for those travelling back to Istria as well, as the mentioned 7 PM service is also the last one that continues on to Pazin and Pula after a stop in Rijeka.

Perhaps a good way for the capital to generate more overnight stays in December, but considering how popular Advent in Zagreb has been in recent years, it could use a few more bus lines in evening hours to accommodate those who don’t necessarily want to spend the weekend.


Sunday, 12 December 2021

Croatian Railways' Lepoglava Junction Project to Boost Rail Connectivity

ZAGREB, 12 Dec 2021 - The HRK 4.4 billion (€586 million) project of the Lepoglava Rail Junction aimed at improving the railway connectivity of three northern counties -- Međimurje, Varaždin, and Krapina-Zagorje -- with the City of Zagreb has recently been presented in the city of Varaždin.

The purpose of the project is to boost the railway connections between key railway stations in central Europe and Zagreb, provide passengers with the shortest railway routes in the region, and offer fast and eco-friendly travel by rail.

Marko Car, an engineer of the Croatian Railways' HŽ Infrastruktura, said that the project envisaged the upgrade of 70 kilometers of the existing rail lines and the construction of an additional 20 kilometers of lines for the junction.

The implementation of the EU-funded project can take 20 years.

The selected 92-kilometer-long route, which includes nine railway stations and 17 train stops, and two tunnels, will make it possible for trains to develop a speed up to 120 kilometers per hour. 

The preparation of the necessary documentation will cost HRK 6.7 million (€890,000).

As much as 85% of the total project is being financed from the 2014-2020 Operational Program Competitiveness and Cohesion.

The study documentation has been drawn up by the consortium comprising ŽPD, Granova, Institut IGH, and Rijekaprojekt.

 For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Fully Developed and Modernised Croatian Railway System in 10 Years?

November the 24th, 2021 - The Croatian railway system has needed a ''lick of paint'' for some considerable amount of time now, and with this more sustainable way of travel being promoted on all levels by the EU, the Croatian railway system hopes to be fully developed and modernised in 10 years.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, railways are the main and key mode for the development of the sector of the future in the whole of the bloc, including Croatia, it was said at the panel discussion "Modern railways in a liberalised market" organised by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure, Hakom and the Alliance for Railways held on Monday in Zagreb.

Tonko Obuljen, President of Hakom's council, pointed out that a regulated market in which the exact rules will be known and within which everything will adhere to the precondition for the good functioning of the railway system is key. State Secretary at the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure, Alen Gospocic announced that after the stabilisation of the situation in the road sector, the ministry is now moving towards the restructuring and modernisation of the Croatian railway system.

“Over the next decade, we want to have a developed railway system that provides quality services to society and is fully integrated with other branches of transport. There's also the establishment of a single European railway area which will lead to the consolidation of rail transport through long-term investment in infrastructure. First of all, I'm referring to two corridors which will run through Croatia, one of which leads from Slovenia to Serbia and the other from Hungary to the Port of Rijeka,'' said Gospocic.

EU funding for the Croatian railway system...

He added that he expects that most of these investments will be realised through the European Recovery Plan, from which more than 4.5 billion euros could be withdrawn for precisely that. According to him, what has already started is the restructuring of HZ Infrastructure so that they can be more functional, and also so that they can apply for EU tenders.

The pandemic is a circumstance that has caused great damage to rail passenger transport across the world, due to lockdowns, the general lack of travel, but also the requirement to limit the number of passengers who can be in one car at any one time. The State Secretary announced that there will be reorganisations of HZ Passenger Transport, which will receive about 80 new trains in the next 3 to 4 years, mostly from the local Koncar plant.

The European Commission has declared 2021 the European Year of Railways, as part of European Union efforts under the European Green Plan, a plan drawn up by the EU with the aim of creating a sustainable economy and achieving climate neutrality by the year 2050. One of the key elements of this plan is to launch cleaner and healthier modes of transport, as the transport sector is currently responsible for 25 percent of Europe's greenhouse gas emissions.

The European Green Plan calls for a 90 percent reduction in emissions in the transport sector by 2050 and the activities within the European Year of Railways are intended to provide momentum to increase the share of rail transport across the bloc's transport market as a whole.

Through various events, projects and activities held across the bloc, different dimensions of railways stand out, from the world's leading European railway innovation industry to the role of railways in European culture and heritage, the important role of connecting regions, people and businesses and the role of sustainable tourism, as well as its involvement in Europe’s relations with neighbouring non-EU countries.

A sustainable mode of transport

While the European transport sector is responsible for 25 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, at the same time, railways across the European Union are responsible for less than 0.5 percent of transport-related greenhouse gas emissions. This makes it the most sustainable mode of passenger and freight transport we currently have.

Among other advantages, travelling by rail is extremely safe and connects European people and the economy via the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T). Despite these benefits, only about 7 percent of passengers and 11 percent of goods are actually transported by rail. These are all facts that prompted the European Commission to launch a complex project to organise the European Year of Railways.

For more, check out our business section.

Sunday, 16 May 2021

Croatian Railways Slashes Train Ticket Prices from Zagreb to Coastal Cities

May 16, 2021 - Croatian Railways has launched a sale on train ticket prices from Zagreb to coastal cities in Croatia!

HRTurizam reports that Croatian Railways Passenger Transport (HŽPP) has announced special prices for travel on direct routes from Zagreb to the coast.

Prices refer to one-way trips on direct routes in the 1st and 2nd class of passenger, high-speed, and IR trains for which tickets are purchased at the box office and on the train. Also, HŽ stated that the prices of tickets purchased through online sales and smartphone applications had been further reduced, and train tickets can also be purchased at Tisak kiosks.

Train ticket prices from Zagreb

Zagreb GK - Rijeka / Rijeka - Zagreb GK 65 kn
Zagreb GK - Zadar / Zadar - Zagreb GK 100 kn
Zagreb GK - Šibenik / Šibenik - Zagreb GK 100 kn
Zagreb GK - Split / Split - Zagreb GK 110 kn
Zagreb GK - Pula / Pula - Zagreb GK 80 kn

The offer is valid until June 30, 2021, and the return of partially or completely unused tickets is not possible.

2021 is the European Year of Railways

The European Commission's (EC) initiative highlights the benefits of rail as a sustainable, smart, and safe means of transport. In 2021, various activities will bring rail to the forefront across the continent, encourage citizens and businesses to use rail, and contribute to the goal of the European Green Plan, according to which the EU should become climate neutral by 2050.

One of the key elements of the Plan is the introduction of cleaner and healthier means of transport, given that the transport sector is currently responsible for around 25% of EU greenhouse gas emissions. The European Green Plan calls for a 90% reduction in traffic emissions by 2050.

To achieve this goal and ensure that transport continues to play a role during the transition to a clean, digital and innovative EU economy, the EC adopted a Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy in December 2020. It paves the way for more sustainable, smarter, and resilient mobility and includes milestones towards doubling rail freight by 2050 and tripling high-speed rail connections by 2050. In 2021, the EC will present an action plan to strengthen rail passenger transport, which follows the strategy to improve capacity and simplify the system of ticket sales for various modes of transport to increase the attractiveness of rail further.

For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Saturday, 17 April 2021

Istria Railway Renovation to Revive Line from Slovenian Border to Pula

April the 17th, 2021 - The Istria railway lines are set to have a bit of life breathed back into them after a significant period of time. More precisely, the renovation of the part of the Istria railway line from Pula to the Slovenian border is set to begin.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Suzana Varosanec writes, with the signing of the Agreement on the preparation of the study documentation for the reconstruction and modernisation of the railway R101 (Slovenian-Croatian border - Buzet - Pula), new opportunities for the modernisation of this traffic route are being realised.

On top of the aforementioned, new life on this part of the Istria railway line means greater prospects for the tourist revitalisation of central Istria through new modes of transport.

For the 91 kilometre-long dilapidated railway line that passes through the continental part of Istria - from the border with Slovenia to the City of Pula, the study documentation includes the development of conceptual solutions, cost-effectiveness studies, a cost-benefit analysis, and an extensive review of the proposed environmental impact of such a move.

Thus, the needs and possibilities of modernisation will be considered, acceptable options and investments will be analysed in relation to the planned transport demand, and it will serve as a basis for the further elaboration of this project and application for potential European Union (EU) co-financing.

As a co-signatory of this Agreement with HZ Infrastruktura, the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure, when it comes to the further development of Istria, places the greatest emphasis on developmental projects, including the completion of the Istrian Y and continued construction in regard to the Ucka tunnel.

With the signing of this brand new agreement, as a step forward, the modernisation of the Istria railway infrastructure in that part of the country is set to formally begin.

For all you need to know about the Istrian city of Pula in 2021, make sure to check out Pula in a Page.


Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Strike at HŽ Infrastruktura Railway Company Called Off

ZAGREB, 24 March, 2021 - Three representative railway workers' unions whose members are employees of the HŽ Infrastruktura railway company have called off a strike announced for noon on 25 March after reaching a compromise solution and signing a new collective agreement with the employer.

The leader of one of the three unions, Mario Grbešić, told Hina that the dispute with the employer had been about two provisions, one being a non-taxable wage supplement and the other meal allowances.

"An agreement has been reached concerning these two issues in a satisfactory way. One will be implemented immediately and the other will be in force as of 1 January next year," Grbešić said.

Under the new collective agreement, to be in force from 1 April this year until 30 June 2022, as of 1 April workers have the right to a HRK 416 non-taxable wage supplement each month.

As of 1 January 2022, workers will receive a meal allowance of HRK 1.30 per each working hour.

They will also receive an Easter bonus of HRK 500, holiday pay of HRK 1,300 and a Christmas bonus of HRK 1,200.

The three unions that were planning to strike represent railway workers, train dispatchers and railway infrastructure workers.

The previous collective agreement expired on 28 February.

The unions further expressed their willingness to postpone negotiations on the cost of labour until the last quarter of this year considering the economic situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic and last year's earthquakes.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Saturday, 13 March 2021

Chinese Stop Hrvatski Leskovac-Karlovac Railway Project Tender Again

March the 13th, 2021 - The Hrvatski Leskovac-Karlovac railway project tender has been forced to grind to a halt once again as the Chinese throw a spanner in the works in the form of another complaint.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Chinese have once again stopped the tender for the reconstruction/construction of the second track on the Hrvatski Leskovac-Karlovac railway section, worth a total of 2.04 billion kuna. The tender was launched back on September the 4th last year, and the first deadline for submitting bids was November the 3rd, 2020.

However, so far there have been a total of seven appeals against the tender documentation and its changes, which has extended the tender by more than four months, according to a report from Vecernji list.

The last complaint was filed by the Chinese company China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group (CREEG), more specifically its Zagreb branch, about ten days before the deadline for submitting bids was due back on March the 9th. HZ Infrastruktura sent a request to the State Commission for the Control of Public Procurement Procedures (DKOM) to continue the procurement procedure, despite the aforementioned complaint filed by a Chinese company.

HZI stated that CREEG's appeal was untimely and that the Chinese were merely abusing the institute of appeal with the sole aim of extending the deadline for the submission of bids. They also stated that they received money from European Union (EU) funds for the Hrvatski Leskovac-Karlovac railway project with the deadline for the eligibility of all expenditures until December the 31st, 2023.

Therefore, they warned that any further extension of the procedure could cause termination of the grant agreement, which could have an adverse effect on the entire Croatian economy. This would cause damage that would be greater than the value of the purchase itself, and that is one of the reasons, according to the Public Procurement Act, on the basis of which the continuation of the tender can be allowed despite the submitted Chinese complaint/appeal. Despite that, DKOM rejected the request on the grounds that HZI had not been able to actually prove what it claimed.

The Chinese company China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), which is building the Peljesac bridge down in Dalmatia, also stopped this tender with an appeal filed on December the 4th, which DKOM rejected as untimely within just four days. It was then interpreted that the Chinese had filed the complaint to put pressure on the Croatian side over another tender - for a concession on the Zagreb coast in the Port of Rijeka, where they had made the best offer in a consortium with other Chinese companies.

However, the United States and the EU both put pressure on Croatia not to let the Chinese have access to the Port of Rijeka, and at the end of last year the tender was entirely annulled. Therefore, the new Chinese complaint for the Hrvatski Leskovac-Karlovac railway project might easily be interpreted as a kind of revenge for the Rijeka situation, but that is yet to be proven beyond doubt.

For more on business in Croatia, follow our dedicated section.

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