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.

Saturday, 3 October 2020

Continental Croatia Trains: Inland Opens Up With Green Travel

October 3, 2020 - With charter airlines in a state of flux and Croatia Railways beginning a renewal of their fleet in Slavonia, are continental Croatia trains the eco-friendly and best way to unlock the inland's amazing potential?

Everything changes. Nothing stays the same. Even before 2020 arrived, lifestyles and trends were headed in new directions. Eco-tourism and agro-tourism were two of the fastest-growing areas within the travel sector, this behaviour change a response to concerns about the environment. And nowhere in the country stands better poised to take advantage of this interest than continental Croatia.

ivo-biocinaCNTB.jpgImpossibly pretty Zagorje - the region lies just north of Zagreb and is accessible by continental Croatia trains © Ivo Biocina / Croatia National Tourist Board

From the impossibly pretty hills of Zagorje, the peaceful rivers of Karlovac county and the hidden vineyards that surround the capital Zagreb to the vast Pannonian flatlands that stretch to Slavonia, Baranya, Vukovar-Srijem and beyond, the varied topography of continental Croatia is wild, exciting and - by many - wholly undiscovered.

This is land where agriculture and nature thrive side by side, where the stresses of modern-day existence ebb away as you readjust to a way of life that would look mostly familiar to the people who lived here centuries ago. These are places where you can truly be at one with yourself and with your surroundings. In continental Croatia, you often find yourself in an environment that is both timeless and traditional, yet wholly contemporary in regards to its ecological aspirations. And you're never far away from an exciting city environment that you can dip into on a whim – not just Zagreb, but Osijek, Slavonski Brod, Karlovac, Sisak and Varaždin too.

kalendar04.jpgTo those who really know and love Croatia, Osijek is simply unmissable. It is both the capital of and the doorway to Slavonia and Baranya and should be more accessible by continental Croatia trains. Sadly, international transportation links to the city by air are also quite poor. Improvements in accessibility to Slavonia and Baranya by rail and road are imminent © Romulić & Stojčić

Unlocking the incredible potential of continental Croatia relies on getting the message out there and facilitating travel to these regions

In recent TCN features we have detailed that motorways within Croatia are among the best in Europe - once you're inside Croatia, travelling by car (or bus) between the regions couldn't be easier. We have also seen evidence of the huge interest in travelling here by rail and using continental Croatia trains.

Of all the modern methods of long-distance travel, rail is by far the most eco-friendly. What better way to begin an environmentally friendly holiday than by arriving on continental Croatia trains? When the country wisely decided to prioritise its internal motorway system, a modern and fast inter-regional rail network was put on the back burner. Nowhere suffers greater from this decision than continental Croatia.

Croatian Official Document uploaded to Wikipedia by Epepe.gifThe Croatian rail network © Croatian Official Document uploaded to Wikipedia by Epepe

The only high-speed line that currently exists in Croatia links Rijeka to Budapest, via Zagreb and Koprivnica. Planned improvements hope to cut journey times between Zagreb and its nearest coastal city to an hour. Same as it ever was - Rijeka was the first Croatian city to be connected internationally by rail. That line also ran into the heart of Austro-Hungary and facilitated upper-class travel to places like Opatija. But does it best benefit the country to invest in more links to the coast or in continental Croatia trains? Well, the inland is not being ignored. Upgrades are being made to continental Croatia trains.

IMG_8990.jpgThis impressive beast actually services the country's coast. But would more investment in the continental Croatia trains network better service more people and help unlock the inland to tourists? Around 70% of the country's inhabitants live in continental Croatia © HŽPP

The rail link between Zagreb and Slavonski Brod is so historic that it was once part of the four routes of the Orient Express. It has been maintained to a standard where you can make a relatively quick journey from the capital to Vinkovci via Slavonski Brod. The same cannot be said for rail travel to Osijek, the access point to Baranya and much more. So slow is the connection between Osijek and Zagreb that it has been possible over recent times to reach the Slavonian capital quicker by taking the train to Vinkovci, then the bus to Osijek, rather than travelling direct by rail.

Slavonija_Osijek0191.jpgOsijek train station. A renovation to the building is planned for the near future © Romulić & Stojčić

However, in February this year, Croatian Railways introduced four direct daily lines between Slavonski Brod and Osijek. And there will be a new tilting train line that will run between Zagreb to Osijek on Friday afternoon and from Osijek to Zagreb on Sunday afternoon, facilitating student travel. On October 15, the first low-floor train will run between Osijek and Vinkovci as an additional part of the renewal of their continental Croatia trains fleet in Slavonia. The welcome return of Croatia's second-oldest international rail line - linking Osijek to Pécs in Hungary, via Beli Manastir and Baranya - was introduced in late 2018.

23e1f08a601e02be10403fbc28ced968_XL.jpgA motorway stretch between Metković and Dubrovnik, integrating the Pelješac bridge and the Croatian segment of the European corridor are the final big remaining projects in a three-decade-long undertaking to give Croatia one of the best motorway networks in Europe. Should Croatia's rail network be next? © Hrvatske Autoceste

Access to Slavonia and Baranya will also be massively facilitated upon completion of the European corridor, which will connect North Europe to the Adriatic. Starting in Budapest, it necessitates the building of a bridge near Beli Manastir. Thereafter the motorway will pass by Osijek, connect to the Zagreb-Slavonia motorway near Lipovac, then pass through Bosnia and its capital Sarajevo and on to Ploče.

The removal of budget airline flights to the airport in Osijek remains a hindrance to attracting many international visitors to Slavonia and Baranya. However, with charter airlines facing the greatest uncertainty of all modes of transport at the current time, though their return is a must, it is perhaps now an ambition that should remain more long term. For the immediate future, improvements to rail travel look to be a brilliant way of opening up not only Slavonia, Baranya and Vukovar-Srijem, but also an eco-friendly access point capable of serving the whole of untapped continental Croatia.

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Monday, 31 August 2020

Croatian Railways Investment Completion Set for Summer 2022

August the 31st, 2020 - Croatian railways aren't often in receipt of much praise. The train journeys are typically much longer than they should be, and the infrastructure system requires a lot of work. That being said, the Croatian railways investment has been going on since spring this year, and it isn't due for completion until 2022.

As Lucija Spiljak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 30th of August, 2020, works on the reconstruction of the Zagreb Zapadni kolodvor - Savski Marof railway have been underway since back in May this year, the value of which amounts to almost 366 million kuna without VAT, and most of which is being financed by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

This Croatian railways investment is part of a much larger investment cycle in transport infrastructure involving up to 20 billion kuna, half of which is going to the railway system, which, as stated, is in need of an upgrade. The works are expected to be completed by the summer of 2022, and the site was recently visited by the longtime Minister of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure, Oleg Butkovic.

The eighteen-kilometre-long railway was last overhauled back in 1974, and this ongoing renovation should strengthen it, increase the carrying capacity and the level of safety and speed of trains to 120 km/h, and maintenance costs should be reduced in general. About 170 trains run on the line daily and it is located on an important corridor for international freight and urban-suburban transport.

During his visit, the Minister recalled the fact that the reconstruction of the Zapresic - Zabok railway saw an investment of around 900 million kuna in that micro-location alone.

He announced the continuation Croatian railways investments, and next week he will sign yet another contract for the purchase of 22 new trains for HŽ Putnički prijevoz (Passenger transport), worth more than one billion kuna in total.

He also stated that the traffic in the current part of this year is at the level of about 50 percent of last year, while cargo rail and passenger traffic didn't actually suffer much damage as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

For more on investments in Croatia, follow our business page.

For the latest travel info, bookmark our main travel info article, which is updated daily

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Tuesday, 11 August 2020

2.3 Billion Kuna: Croatian Railways Begins Biggest Individual Project

An enormous individual project for Croatian Railways is about to kick off, backed with 2.3 billion kuna and considerable help from European Union funds.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 10th of August, 2020, HZ Infrastructure is starting the reconstruction of the existing track and the construction of the second track of the railway from Hrvatski Leskovac to Karlovac, and the estimated value of works on this project is the largest of all individual works undertaken by Croatian Railways so far, amounting to 2.3 billion kuna without VAT, as was reported by Vecernji list on Monday.

According to HZ Infrastructure, the tender for this line will be announced in September, and the tender documentation is currently being reviewed by the Central Agency for Financing and Contracting of EU Programmes and Projects (CFCA), because this project is also co-financed in the amount of 85 percent by European Union funds. The Hrvatski Leskovac section is part of the Rijeka - Hungarian border railway, and the conversion of a single-track line into a two-track line from Zagreb to the border has already begun. Works are already being carried out on the Dugo Selo - Krizevci section, and the contractor for the Krizevci - state border section has already been put into operation.

With the realisation of the Hrvatski Leskovac - Karlovac project, the works on the transformation of this Croatian railway into a modern two-track railway from Zagreb to Rijeka will start.

The Rijeka - Zagreb - Budapest railway is part of the Mediterranean TEN-T corridor. The realisation of this project, as well as other sections on which works are being performed and on which they are planned, will increase the competitiveness of the Port of Rijeka by improving its transport connections with the markets across Central Europe, the aforementioned publication writes. With the reconstruction of the existing track and construction of the second track on the section Hrvatski Leskovac - Karlovac in the length of 44.02 kilometres, the section will be able to boast a maximum speed of 160 km/h, except in the area of ​​Mavracic, Jastrebarsko and Karlovac, where it will be 120 and 140 km/h due to the space constraints. The current single-track electrified railway will also become double-track.

As for other sections on the Rijeka - state border line, ie the lowland railway project, HZ Infrastructure says that the main project for the Skrljevo - Rijeka - Jurdani section is underway and that they plan to apply for European Union funds in the second half of next year for that project. For the Karlovac - Ostarije section, which is 40 kilometres long, a tender for the preparation of the study documentation is in progress. The preparation of the study documentation for the Ostarije - Skrljevo section is also currently in progress.

Croatia also expects co-financing from EU funds for the remaining Rijeka-state border line section, and according to the announcements of the Minister of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure, Oleg Butkovic, the entire project could be completed by 2027.

For more on Croatian railways and other investments in Croatia, follow our dedicated business section.

Monday, 18 May 2020

Modernisation: Koncar Making 12 New Trains for Croatian Railways

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 18th of May, 2020, Croatian Railways (HZ) has ordered twelve new trains for suburban and intercity traffic from Končar's company - Electric Vehicles.

The move marks an investment worth a massive 465 million kuna and it is part of the investment cycle of Croatia's much needed railway modernisation, which is being realised with foreign loans and money from European Union funds, writes HRT.

This is one of about twenty electric trains that Croatian Railways (HZ Putnički prijevoz) ordered from Končar, and the new twelve brand new modern trains should be in service in a couple of years.

''The trains are low-floor trains adapted for easier entry for people with reduced mobility, the vehicles are equipped with a passenger information system, video surveillance, wireless internet access, passengers have space for bicycles and also for additional luggage,'' said Josip Ninić, President of Končar-Electric Vehicles.

The high-tech product was developed by Končar's experts with domestic subcontractors.

''Trains like this are very expensive, the lowest price is around 40 million kuna. Such trains boast numerous pieces of sophisticated equipment, software solutions and all of this was purpose-developed in Končar. The trains were made according to all of the necessarily global standards and we've already sold one to Bosnia and Herzegovina,'' emphasised Ivan Bahun, a member of the Management Board of Končar.

Končar is also hoping for new jobs for Croatian Railways, which has announced a tender for the procurement of 21 more trains that would be financed with European Union money. Croatian Railways would contract 37 new trains by the end of the year.

''These trains will run next year on the newly renovated sections of the railway to Zabok to Križevci and the section to Vinkovci. We'll raise the quality and the frequency of this type of transport, we'll reduce operating costs and change the perception of the railways,'' stated Željko Ukić, President of the Management Board of Croatian Railways.

In addition to trains produced for Croatian Railways, Končar worked diligently on the overhaul of foreign locomotives throughout the coronavirus epidemic, as well as on the first tram for a foreign customer.

The first of six contracted trams made for Latvia should start working in the autumn.

For more, follow our business page.

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Government Gives Go Ahead for Financing Upgrade of Railways' Rolling Stock

ZAGREB, March 26, 2020 - The Croatian government on Thursday adopted a decision on the financing of a project to upgrade the rolling stock of the railways transport company HŽ Putnički Prijevoz, the estimated value of the four-year project being HRK 1.29 billion, including VAT.

Transport Minister Oleg Butković said that HŽ Putnički Prijevoz would expand its rolling stock by buying 21 new electric trains, which would improve public transport services.

The eligible cost of the project has been estimated at HRK 1.03 billion, and the non-eligible cost refers to VAT in the amount of HRK 258.17 million.

Under the government's decision, the transport ministry has been entrusted with securing funding for eligible costs until the completion of the process of allocation of EU grants. Those eligible costs refer exclusively to preparations for the project that precede the purchase of trains, for which budgetary funds have been secured.

HŽ Putnički Prijevoz is obliged to secure funds for non-eligible project costs.

The project is expected to be completed by December 2023, said Butković.

Last week the ministry said that the European Commission had granted €119.3 million to co-finance the upgrade of HŽ Putnički Prijevoz's rolling stock.

More news about railways can be found in the Travel section.

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Croatia Given More Than 119 Million Euro to Purchase 21 Electric Trains

ZAGREB, March 17, 2020 - The European Commission on Tuesday approved the allocation of more than €119 million from the Cohesion Fund to Croatia to purchase 21 electric trains.

That is one of 14 large infrastructure projects in seven EU member states with a total value of €1.4 billion.

"Over €119 million from the Cohesion Fund will finance the purchase of 21 new electric trains to boost service quality, reduce delays and encourage more people to use a sustainable transport type. This project will contribute to modernise the country's rolling stock and to improve connectivity and mobility with positive economic consequences. Travel times, noise, vibrations and operating costs will be reduced while safety will increase," the EC said in a press release published on its web site.

Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira, said: "In such difficult times for our continent, it is crucial that Cohesion policy continues to play its role in supporting the economy for the benefit of our citizens."

"Today's major project adoptions show that EU funding, and Cohesion policy in particular, delivers concrete results, helping regions and cities becoming a safer, cleaner and more comfortable place for people and business. Many of the approved projects also help delivering on the goals of the European Green Deal. When the European Commission, Member States and regions join forces, we can achieve a lot,” Ferreira said.

More news about EU Funds can be found in the Business section.

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