Sunday, 23 May 2021

FinMin Says it's Very Good Fitch has Left Croatia in Investment Zone

ZAGREB, 23 May, 2021 - Finance Minister Zdravko Marić said on Sunday it was very good for Croatia that Fitch had affirmed its investment rating.

Fitch Ratings on Friday affirmed Croatia's rating at 'BBB-', with a stable outlook, highlighting big short-term risks related to the pandemic as well as the medium-term outlook for economic growth thanks to the EU's financial support.

Fitch also upgraded the projection for Croatia's economic growth in 2021 from 3.8% to 5.5%, forecasting GDP growth to accelerate to 6.1% in 2022.

"That's very good news, that according to the Fitch credit agency too Croatia's credit rating continues to be in the investment zone with a stable outlook," Marić told the press.

He said he was pleased that Fitch's report summed up objectively and well all the key circumstances that impacted the rating.

The agency's emphasis is on the process of joining the Economic and Monetary Union, he added.

"The report says what introducing the euro means for the credit rating. It would mean a jump of two notches up, which would bring us into a comfort zone. On the other hand, there's the National Recovery and Resilience Plan," Marić said, adding that emphasis was put on its implementation, which he expects to begin towards the end of the year.

Public finance is the third segment and it's good that rating agencies underline that in this crisis fiscal stimulants should last as long as necessary so as to save jobs and people's health, he said.

"When the pandemic is behind us, we will sum up the effects. When you look at it all together, the deficits, notably on the public debts of the EU member states, including Croatia, the debts are not small."

He said the effect of one year of the pandemic in Croatia had neutralised the four years when the public debt was being reduced, by about three percentage points every year.

Last year Croatia's public debt grew to over HRK 36 billion, mainly because of the costs of fighting the pandemic.

Fitch raised the public deficit forecast from 3.5 to 4% of GDP in 2021 and forecasts a fall to 3% in 2022, up by 0.8 percentage points from the forecast made last December. Public debt/GDP should fall to 82.7% of GDP in 2022 from 88.7% in 2020, Fitch said, forecasting Croatia's eurozone entry for 2024.

COVID aid for businesses in line with circumstances, trends

Asked if aid for businesses affected by the pandemic would continue after June, Marić said the measures were adopted in line with the circumstances and that trends both in Croatia and abroad were being followed.

Speaking of aid for travel agencies, the event industry and occasional transport, Marić said the coverage of fixed costs in force since December would be applied.

For those that are closed, other solutions are being sought and the relevant ministries are working on programmes to help them, he said, adding that the idea was to give them some incentive once the summer tourist season started.

Asked about reforms related to the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, notably in health, Marić said the Plan referred to the period until 2026 and that he hoped Croatia would be prompt and efficient in implementing it. He expects 13% of the advance to be drawn by the end of this year.

Speaking of budget revenues, Marić said they were as expected at the moment and that some tax revenues were very good.

Fiscalisation is at 99%, one percent less than at the same time in 2019, he said, adding that the indices in retail were over 100%, with some categories recording growth from five to eight percent.

Tourism and hospitality are markedly below and the key topic at the moment is expenditures, he said.

Asked about this year's possible inflation rate, Marić said that last year it was 0.1% and that some inflationary pressure could be expected, both globally and in Croatia, adding that in Croatia inflation had always been within sustainable levels.

Commenting on an economist's proposal to use European funds for new tax cuts in all segments instead of projects, Marić said the rules were set by the European Commission.

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Wednesday, 5 May 2021

557 Million Kuna Investment for Revitalisation of Senj Power Plant

May the 5th, 2021 - A new investment in Croatia totalling a massive 557 million kuna has been started on the path to fruition regarding the Senj power plant.

As Darko Bicak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, HEP recently signed a valuable contract with a community of Croatian bidders involved with Koncar for the reconstruction of the Senj power plant (hydropower plant).

Recently in the City of Zagreb, Hrvatska elektroprivreda (HEP) signed an agreement on the replacement of the primary equipment of the Senj power plant with a community of Croatian companies led by Koncar-engineering for energy and transport and Koncar-generators and engines. The contract is worth as much as 330 million kuna and is part of the main project for the reconstruction of the Senj power plant worth 557 million kuna, which will increase the power plant by 20 MW.

Work on the Senj power plant will begin in 2022 and end in 2026. HEP expects that this large investment will increase the reliability and availability of the Senj power plant, extend the life of the power plant for the next fifty or so years and ultimately reduce the costs of maintaining and operating the plant in general.

Otherwise, the Senj power plant is located seven kilometres south of the town of Senj itself, not far from Sveti Juraj, and was initially put into operation back in 1965. The total available capacity of the power plant is 216 MW, and the average annual production stands at 970 GWh, which makes up about 20 percent of the production of hydropower plants in the Republic of Croatia, or 10 percent of HEP's total production.

In addition to electricity generation, the Senj power plant, as part of the Senj hydropower system, provides a secure water supply to part of the northern Littoral, including the islands of Rab and Pag. The reconstruction and revitalisation of the Senj power plant is being done as part of the cycle of the reconstruction, extension and revitalisation of HEP's hydropower plants, with a total value of 3.9 billion kuna, which began back in 2012 and includes 12 of the total of 26 hydropower plants owned by HEP.

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Thursday, 14 January 2021

Construction of Aircraft Parts Factory Begins in Jakovlje North 2 Zone

January the 14th, 2021 - When it comes to getting the economy moving again, things are going slowly. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic and in Croatia's case, being hit with multiple devastating earthquakes has certainly thrown a spanner in the works, but in certain areas of the country - things are starting up. The construction of an aircraft parts factory in the Jakovlje North 2 zone has begun.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the construction of an aircraft parts factory in the Jakovlje North 2 has now begun, in which 450 employees will be employed in the first phase. This information was confirmed by the mayor of Jakovlje, Sanja Borovec, adding that two more new investors in this zone are expected in the near future.

"Although there have been rumors for months that nothing will come of the construction of the aircraft parts factory, the machines on the construction site show that we were on the right track. The effort we've put in over the last three years has paid off. In early December 2020, the Austrian aeronautical company FACC (Fischer Advanced Composite Components), began the construction of a factory in the Jakovlje North 2 zone that will produce parts that will be installed in the world's most famous aircraft. According to the business plan, the company will employ 450 employees in the first phase,'' said Sanja Borovec (HDZ).

She added that this investment, worth a massive 33 million euros, means providing jobs to the residents of this area, a better livelihood, but also a spring in the step of the further economic development of the Municipality of Jakovlje. The arrival of the FACC in Jakovlje began back in mid-2019, when the greenfield investment of this Austrian aeronautical company was initially announced. In the first phase alone, the plan was to invest around 30 million euros and create 600 jobs, and in the second phase, FACC planned to open another factory for the production of interior parts for aircraft with a total of one thousand employees.

Given the coronavirus crisis that hit the aviation industry hard in 2020, it is difficult to estimate the exact volume of the total FACC investment and its dynamics, and the investors themselves haven't issued any comment on that. Upon arrival in the Jakovlje North 2 zone, it was pointed out that the pool of skilled workers was the most important for choosing the location for this large investment. For almost two years, the company negotiated the best location for its factory, which was supposed to be located within the EU, and all Eastern and Central European countries except Croatia were considered. In the end, Croatia was ahead of Slovakia and Poland.

Jakovlje was not the only location in Zagreb County, but it was chosen because of good traffic connections. A plus for Croatia was a good ten years of business experience with local companies, with which it will continue to cooperate intensively after the start of production. FACC is also satisfied with energy costs and other operating costs in Croatia, as well as investment incentives. In the first phase, the production of parts for Airbus is planned, namely parts for the interior of the aircraft from the luggage compartments and ceiling panels to the entrance part of the interior.

FACC will operate in Croatia under the name FACC Solutions Croatia. FACC otherwise has more than 3,400 employees in 38 countries and with revenues of 782 million euros. It is owned by the Chinese state-owned group AVIC Cabin Systems, which has 450,000 workers worldwide and generates huge revenues of 54 billion US dollars.

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Wednesday, 2 December 2020

Telemach Croatia to Invest 230 Million Euros in Croatian Digitisation

December the 2nd, 2020 - Digitisation in Croatia goes slowly. In fact it goes so slowly that it's rather difficult to believe it is progressing at all when you find yourself standing in line with a bible's worth of paperwork in your hand at Fina, MUP, or some other God forsaken office full of half dead plants and even more half dead clerks. Telemach Croatia, however, understands that this is a process at which it is paramount to be at the very forefront.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, we're still going through the tiresome motions of a very, very challenging year which has been dominated by a public health crisis and economic woes. Despite efforts to maintain stability, the pandemic has slowed down all business activities in all economic sectors, including in the telecommunications sector. The forecasts of various economic analysts are, to say the least, discouraging, and it's to be expected that the period ahead of us will bring with it even more new challenges for the Croatian and the global economy. Investors, especially foreign ones, will be very cautious indeed, which will further slow down economic recovery.

''We're seeing the greatest opportunity in the introduction of new technologies that will enable the continued digitisation of the Croatian economy, and thus the progress of society as a whole. This new situation has clearly indicated the importance of digital transformation and, on the one hand, has accelerated its implementation. We believe that this trend will continue in the future. Our society will increasingly rely on digital solutions, and a prerequisite for this will be having more advanced infrastructure. The above is particularly true for the telecommunications industry, this means that telecom operators will need to provide sufficient network capacityies to withstand the increasing growth of data traffic.

In this regard, investments in telecommunications infrastructure will play a key role. At Telemach Croatia, we want to be the leaders in the digitisation of Croatia, because we consider it the backbone of the accelerated launch of economic progress. That's why the announced investments of our parent company, the United Group, have given us a real spring in our step. This represents one of the largest foreign investments in all of Croatia.

Thus, over the next five year period, we will invest up to 130 million euros in the further modernisation of our mobile network. We'll expand our mobile network coverage, improve the quality of the mobile service we have on offer and also introduce ultra-fast 5G technology. In addition to all of the aforementioned, we intend to invest up to 100 million euros in the construction of a state-of-the-art optical network that will provide private and business users with ultra-fast broadband Internet at speeds of up to 10 gigabits. In this way, we plan to transform the business from a segment-focused operator into a fully converged company that provides customers with high-quality telecommunications services and a superior user experience,'' they concluded from Telemach Croatia.

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Wednesday, 2 December 2020

Are Croatian Tourism Companies Ready to Invest Post Pandemic?

December the 2nd, 2020 - The coronavirus pandemic has forcibly put the key in the lock of many a previously planned investment, especially in the Croatian tourism sector as companies suffered and continue to suffer the economic fallout as a result of the anti-epidemic measures. With that being said, just how much are Croatian tourism companies willing to invest when the pandemic finally draws to a close?

As Marija Crnjak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Croatian tourism companies have ready projects for investment worth a total of a massive 25 billion kuna, which can be realised over the next five years, in four segments, green tourism, digitalisation, the reconstruction of accommodation and last but by no means least - infrastructure.

Great help in the realisation of these projects is expected from European Union funds, and that same realisation can begin as soon as the end of the pandemic arrives and the normalisation of the tourism industry arrives, said Zeljko Kukurin, CEO of Valamar Riviera at a hotel congress which was held on Tuesday.

The congress was held, much like other events in 2020, in a semi-virtual edition for the first time, and the main focus of the participants is the return of Croatian and global tourism after the pandemic, which became likely with the announcement of coronavirus vaccine registration. The congress was opened by Minister Nikolina Brnjac, who stated that the Croatian Government just yesterday presented a new package of assistance to Croatian companies worth 2.1 billion kuna.

"We've initiated the development of a new programme for the allocation of state aid to the tourism sector and other related activities, which we will soon send for approval to the European Commission, and then for adoption by the Government," assured Nikolina Brnjac.

The Croatian tourism industry is optimistic, as are Croatian tourism companies, and the government is of the opinion that in 2021 about 60-70 percent of 2019's turnover could be realised, as opposed to 2020 in which we reached about 50 percent of that period's turnover. Invesments from Croatian tourism companies will begin when tourist traffic start bringing revenue back in. Valamar, for example, delayed its largest investment yet by 12-24 months. That investment is in the Hotel Pinea and is worth a massive 100 million euros. As such, they have high hopes in the emergence of a vaccine against the novel coronavirus.

"The fastest return of tourists is expected by Istria and the north of the country in general, Zagreb could see a return in the autumn of 2021, and the return of the south and east of the country, ie air destinations, will be slower. We expect to realise about 70 percent of last year’s traffic next year. The vaccine is currently the only solid point we can cling to, but the question is how the realisation of all that will go. Despite that, we're convinced that 2021 will be better than 2020,'' said the President of the Management Board of Maistra, Tomislav Popovic.

Hoteliers across Croatia are aware that a lot of improvisations will need to be done next year, plans will need to be made and bridges crossed when arrived at, there will be a lot of ''last minute'' going on, but this year a lot has been learned and implemented in business and there will be fewer surprises.

"It would be very good for us if the epidemiological picture was favourable from mid-February, on so that we could tell our guests that we're a safe destination and start working towards the Easter period. It should come as no surprise, because this year we've managed to introduce many solutions in regard to safety that would otherwise have taken several years, from the digital privacy of guests to better standards of cleaning and hygiene, which the hotel industry has strictly adhered to," said Veljko Ostojic, the director of the Croatian Tourism Association (HUT).

The CEOs of the largest Croatian tourism companies, Valamar and Maistra, confirmed that there was no coronavirus infection reported within their facilities, although they were very well filled during the season. "It's something we have to communicate to our guests next year as well," Kukurin concluded.

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Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Croatian Roads Continuing with Investments, Toll Payment Modernisation

December the 1st, 2020 - Croatian Roads has continued to function well despite the massive drop in tourist traffic this year, as well as the multitude of economic issues caused by the ongoing pandemic.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, it goes without saying that the pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus this year has significantly affected most industries across Croatia and throughout all of Europe, especially in the transport segment. However, over the last three years, Hrvatske autoceste/Croatian Roads has been carrying out business and financial restructuring as part of the “Modernisation and Restructuring of the Road Sector (MARS)” project launched by the Croatian Government.

In a three year period, visible results have been achieved that have enabled Croatian Roads to continue to operate stably and continue with key investments that haven't had to be forcibly stopped even during this crisis year, which, after a series of successful years, was marked by a decline in traffic on the country's motorways.

''The season was uncertain due to the pandemic, but our expectations were relatively optimistic, which ultimately proved to be correct, so the drop in traffic on the highways was within our general expectations. Thanks to our modern motorways, Croatia has good transport connections to some key tourist markets. For many tourists who normally travel to more distant Mediterranean destinations by air, quality road connections have proven to be a decisive factor in choosing a destination, which has significantly contributed to the results of the tourist season. In the years ahead, we're going to continue with the projects we've started. The greatest emphasis is still placed on the completion of the Vc corridor in Slavonia, but activities for the construction of the A7 Rupa - Rijeka - Zuta Lokva motorway and the motorway to Dubrovnik remain in total parallel. Projects to increase traffic safety are also continuing, and in the coming period, activities will be launched to introduce a new toll collection system,'' they stated from Croatian Roads.

Following the Government Decision on the merger of the Rijeka-Zagreb Motorway with HAC, which will be implemented as of the 1st of January, 2021, we'll face further business restructuring next year. The merger also creates preconditions for more rational financial management and greater potential for investment in investment maintenance and also in construction. Consolidating the management of state-owned motorways will facilitate the introduction of a new toll collection system and bring savings to public procurement procedures.

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Friday, 16 October 2020

Gospic: 20 Million Euro Investment to Begin in Lika Region

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 15th of October, 2020, the works on the construction of the cogeneration plant of the company "Energana Gospic 1" in Gospic in the beautiful green Lika region are now nearing completion. This is an investment worth over 20 million euros, and, according to the contractor, all works on the plant should be completed in December, after which a technical inspection should be performed.

Nova Energana will employ about thirty workers, and the investor is already looking for employees. "At this moment alone, GEEN is urgently looking for electrical and mechanical engineers who need to be trained before putting the plant into operation. Therefore, in Gospic, several jobs will be created in 2020, and by the end of the year, other occupations will be sought in the newly opened plants of the company,'' said the Mayor of Gospic, Karlo Starcevic.

This new Gospic-based biomass plant, with an output of 5 MW, is characterised by the simultaneous production of two useful forms of energy (electric and thermal) in one single process. Within this project, an additional plant is being built - a dryer, intended for drying wood chips, which will increase the efficiency of cogeneration. The produced electricity will be taken over by HEP, while the thermal energy will be primarily used for the needs of the technological process (biomass drying), and if there is a need for heating Gospic.

After the construction of the Kalcit factory, this is the second largest greenfield investment in the area of ​​the Gospic since the independence of Croatia back in the 1990s. On that occasion, Mayor Karlo Starcevic and Secretary-Head Slaven Stilinovic, along with representatives of the contractor Djuro Đakovic TEP d.o.o., Slavonski Brod, Executive Director Ivica Maric and Service and Installation Director Zdravko Stipetic, visited the construction site in the Smiljansko polje Business Zone.

Behind the company Energana Gospic 1 is the Czech holding GEEN, and it is a business entity that has many years of successful experience of operation within the demanding energy sector.

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Friday, 2 October 2020

Rijeka Refinery: Path Open to One of Largest Croatian Investments

As Novac/Vedran Marjanovic writes on the 1st of October, 2020, the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development has recently issued a positive decision on INA's project to modernise the Rijeka refinery in the part related to the environmental impact assessment of that investment. This is another step towards the realisation of the largest investment for the Croatian economy in recent years, worth a massive four billion kuna, which, according to announcements from INA, will place the Rijeka Refinery among the most modern refineries in the world.

Behind the phrase ''the modernisation of the Rijeka refinery'' is actually the construction of a coking complex with a port, storage and transport system.

''The main goals of the INA Rijeka Oil Refinery, which the planned second phase of modernisation, ie the implementation of the Heavy Residue Treatment Programme, seeks to achieve, are the higher production of low-sulfur gasoline and diesel fuels, the cessation of heavy fuel oil production, the reduction of the amount of total harmful emissions from the refinery site, and the production of fuel according to newer EU standards,'' it was stated in the study that INA submitted to the Ministry of Economy in the procedure of obtaining that solution launched in May this year.

The final decision of the Management Board and the Supervisory Board of INA on the beginning of the second phase of the modernisation of the Rijeka refinery was made last December. "INA's investment of four billion kuna is the most beautiful Christmas gift for the Croatian energy system."

This euphoria is far from surprising because it is known that the modernisation of the refineries in Rijeka and Sisak was one of the obligations that MOL undertook by buying the first 25 percent of INA shares way back in 2003. This obligation was included in the famous inter-shareholder agreement from 2009.

From the documentation submitted by INA to the Ministry of Economy in the procedure of obtaining that decision on the impact of the modernisation of the Rijeka refinery on the environment, it is evident that INA addressed the then Ministry of Environmental Protection, Physical Planning and Construction back in 2009.

INA confirmed that obtaining this decision from the Ministry of Economy is one of the steps towards the construction of a plant for the treatment of heavy residues at the Rijeka refinery.

''Considering the fact that the project of construction of a plant for processing heavy residues implies obtaining a series of location and construction permits, these processes should be completed in the middle of next year,'' announced INA. A warning from the decision of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development is on the same track.

''This decision ceases to be valid if INA failts to submit a request for the issuance of a location permit within two years from the day of execution of the decision,'' it was noted in the decision of the Ministry of Economy.

On the occasion of the final decisions of the Management Board and the Supervisory Board of INA on entering the 4 billion kuna investment in the Rijeka refinery, Croatia's largest company announced that the processing plant should start operating in 2023. Although it should be understood that these announcements were made before the coronavirus crisis took hold, which stopped almost all investments in the country for at least three months this year.

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Tuesday, 22 September 2020

New Croatian Mega Project Involves 21 Trains and Over 1 Billion Kuna

As Darko Bicak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 21st of September, 2020, given the fact that over the past 15 years Croatia has almost completely completed its investments in strategic road construction projects, and after that those of air transport, it is time to invest in railway infrastructure, which, with the abundant help of EU funds, is finally underway throughout Croatia. Meet the latest Croatian mega project.

The latest Croatian mega project is the procurement of 21 new low-floor trains, coming with a total value of more than one billion kuna. The Minister of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure, Oleg Butkovic, together with the President of the Management Board of HZ Putnicki prijevoz (passenger transport), Zeljko Ukic, and the Director of the Central Agency for Financing and Contracting, Tomislav Petrica, will sign a contract for securing grants from EU funds.

Out of a total of 21 new low-floor trains from this new Croatian mega project, 11 of them will be intended for city - suburban lines, and the remaining 10 will be for regional lines. Eligible project costs will be financed from EU funds, ie the Cohesion Fund, in the amount of 85 percent, while the rest will be financed from the Croatian state budget.

So far there are 12 trains

This new Croatian mega project is part of the "Project for the renewal of the HZ Passenger Transport fleet", within which 12 new trains have been procured so far, which are currently in the production process.

Through the realisation of these procurements, HZ Putnicki prijevoz will have a total of 32 new trains under its belt over the next three years, for urban - suburban and regional traffic, which, along with 28 new trains that are now in service, will significantly improve the quality of their given transport services. During the last year, HZ Infrastruktura (Infrastructure), a public company in charge of investments and the maintenance of the national railway network, made a total of 950.9 million kuna in investments, which is 29 percent more than they did the year before. As much as 74 percent of the money, or 700.9 million kuna, is co-financed by EU funds. The company has pointed out that due to the coronavirus crisis, the dynamics of the work being carried out on contracted investment projects has slowed down a bit, and the start of work on newly contracted projects has been delayed.

The coronavirus factor

The fact that Croatian railway traffic is growing even during this crisis has been confirmed by the network regulatory agency HAKOM, which pointed out that in the second quarter of 2020, the Croatian railway services market transported 2.5 percent more goods when compared to the same period last year, and it achieved more train kilometres and tonne-kilometres in freight transport.

"These three indicators indicate that, although the coronavirus crisis has generally affected and reduced the transport of goods in Croatia, the railway has taken over the transport of part of that cargo by other means of transport, such as road or air transport," HAKOM said.

The share of train kilometres made freight transport in the total realised train kilometres, which includes passenger transport, stood at 47 percent. The largest freight carrier was the public HŽ Cargo with a share of train kilometres of 56.3 percent, and the rest was achieved by eight new carriers on this market. The indicator of realised tonne-kilometres in the second quarter grew by 17.5 percent when compared to the previous year. On the market of passenger railway transport, the number of transported passengers decreased by as much as 66.6 percent when compared to the second quarter of 2019.

The main reason for less passenger transport was the decision of the National Civil Protection Headquarters of the Republic of Croatia on the temporary suspension of public rail passenger transport from March the 22nd to May the 10th, 2020.

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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.

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