Thursday, 25 November 2021

Electronic Toll Collection to Be Introduced in Entire Croatia

ZAGREB, 25 Nov 2021 - State secretary at the Ministry of Transport, Tomislav Mihotić, confirmed in parliament on Thursday that electronic toll collection (ETC) would be introduced throughout Croatia, and the intention is for the system to be unified in the entire European Union.

In the end, there will be no toll booths on the motorway, Mihotić said in response to Marina Opačak Bilić's (Social Democrats Group) question of whether modernizing the ETC was considered, like in some other countries.

Presenting the amendments to the roads act, the state secretary said their goal was to ensure free passage through all places which today had toll booths.

This means that vehicles will be registered in another way, by recording the licence plate of a vehicle, and then the ETC will automatically collect money, there will be no traffic jams or additional pollution that occurs at these locations, he said.

He added that the funds for introducing the ETC, HRK 500 million (€67 million), had been provided in the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NPOO).

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Sunday, 12 September 2021

Connecting Europe Express Train Stops Over in Zagreb

ZAGREB, 12 Sept, 2021 - The Connecting Europe Express train, travelling across Europe to mark the European Year of Rail, has stopped over in Zagreb, and its passengers gathered at the Esplanade Hotel on Sunday morning for Orient Express theme breakfast, organised by the City of Zagreb Tourist Board.

The train started out from Lisbon on 2 September and is due to end its journey in Paris on 7 October. It will cover about 20,000 kilometres, travelling through 26 countries and 100 cities to promote railways as a safe, sustainable and "green" means of transport. From Zagreb, where it stayed for the night, it will continue to Belgrade, stopping along the way at Slavonski Brod and Tovarnik.

On arriving in Zagreb, about 50 passengers took a sight-seeing tour of the city.  At the breakfast at the Esplanade they were welcomed by representatives of the Ministry of Transport, Croatian Rail (HŽ) company, the European Commission and its representative office in Zagreb, and the City of Zagreb Tourist Board. The passengers are members of the European Commission, which organised the journey, and representatives of EU travel agencies and the transport and tourism sectors.

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

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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, 12 March 2020

EU Transport Ministers Adopt Opatija Declaration on Maritime Policy

ZAGREB, March 12, 2020 - The Opatija Declaration on guidelines for the development of EU maritime policy - environment protection, digitisation, human resources, security and competitiveness - was adopted on Wednesday at an informal meeting of the Union's transport ministers in that Croatian seaside resort.

Croatian Minister of the Sea and Transport Oleg Butković described that the declaration as a step toward achieving a maritime green evolution, adding that the declaration is based on five key points, environmental protection, digitisation, human resources, security and competitiveness.

"These key chapters reflect the current situation when it comes to the challenges of maritime and inland navigation both within the European Union and globally," said Minister Butković.

He added that after the meeting, all the conclusions will be put to the Council of Ministers that will be held during Croatia's presidency of the European Union in June.

Butković explained that today's meeting was an opportunity to discuss topics such as achieving ambitious goals in environment protection, maintaining the competitiveness of Europe's seafaring in the context of the Green Deal aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, and investments in green technology and environment protection.

European Commissioner for Transport Adina Valean assessed the meeting in Opatija as very successful adding that the unanimous adoption of the declaration is a positive sign that puts the maritime sector into the green agenda which will become compulsory once regulations on alternative fuels are adopted.

Butković informed that the ministers also discussed the COVID-19 epidemic which has spread throughout Europe and Croatia's neighbouring countries.

"In that regard we are definitely available and in the next few days, in cooperation with the European Commission, we will convene the Council of Ministers, probably via a video conference, in an effort to integrate everyone, hear every country to see what the situation is and to find a common platform so that on the one hand we ensure undisturbed transport and the flow of goods while respecting every member state and all the measures that each country has implemented on its territory," Butković said.

Asked about the problem of Croatian seafarers returning to their homes after their contracts expire, Minister Butković said that the ministry was in daily contact with the unions and that a press release in that regard would be issued before the day's end.

"We will do everything so that that situation is brought to a successful end so those people can return however, that is now a matter for the crisis management centre at the national level and so everything needs to be coordinated," he said.

The ministers in Opatija agreed that "the current situation has a significant impact on whole sector and industry."

"The Ministers concluded that it is necessary to stand in solidarity with the affected member states and work together in order to find the best solution," according to a press release issued by the Croatian presidency.

The informal meeting of EU transport ministers was held within a two-day maritime conference that the ministry organised as part of Croatia's presidency of the Council of the EU.

The conference was attended by representatives of European associations of shippers, mediators in employing seafarers, shipyards and other stakeholders from the global maritime industry, international maritime organisations, the European Maritime Safety Agency and others.

The informal meeting was an opportunity to continue the debate on policies aimed at achieving ambitious environmental goals while maintaining the competitiveness of European maritime affairs.

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

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Croatia Has Inherited Proposal to Raise Minimum Flight Delay, Minister Says

ZAGREB, February 5, 2020 - Croatia has only inherited the proposal to raise the minimum flight delay for which passengers can receive financial compensation, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Oleg Butković said on Wednesday.

"This proposal was not put forward by the Croatian EU presidency, a Croatian ministry or the Croatian government. This point is again being raised by the European Commission during our presidency and is yet to be discussed," Butković told the press before an inner cabinet meeting.

"Croatia's position on the matter is logical and normal. We will not be asking for air companies to get richer at the expense of end users, that is citizens," the minister added.

Under EU rules, travellers are entitled to up to €600 compensation if a flight is delayed by at least three hours or cancelled less than 14 days before departure. They can also receive compensation if they are denied boarding.

Some national authorities and courts have criticised the rules, saying member states struggle to process the large number of claims they receive, and airlines' compensation payments have grown because the number of delays and cancellations has risen.

Talks among EU governments on revising passengers' rights, which have been in place since 2005, are due to start in the coming weeks. Any agreement will be considered by the European Commission and Parliament.

The European Commission proposed in 2013 that the minimum flight delay be increased from three to five hours, but negotiations stalled after that.

An informal document circulated among member states has proposed keeping the level of compensation the same as now for passengers, but suggested increasing the minimum flight delay for which airlines must make payments.

In 2018, 17.6 million passengers were affected by flight cancellations and 16.5 million by long delays.

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

Sunday, 2 February 2020

1,155 People Rescued in 612 Search and Rescue Operations at Sea

ZAGREB, February 2, 2020 - A total of 1,155 people and 195 vessels were rescued in 612 search and rescue operations in the Croatian Adriatic last year, while 27 people were killed in accidents at sea, the Ministry of the Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure said in a statement.

The total number of rescue operations decreased by 8.5% compared with 2018. Medical emergencies accounted for 54% of all emergencies at sea, increasing by 8.8% to 223 such cases in 2019.

Eleven operations were undertaken to rescue divers and 22 to rescue windsurfers, and 19 swimmers were also rescued. Emergency services responded 56 times to help vessels with engine or steering system trouble; by comparison, they responded to 83 such cases in 2018.

Last year 27 people were killed and 29 injured in accidents at sea, while one person was declared missing. The number of deaths decreased by 20.6%, while the number of people rescued increased by 6.9%.

The ministry also reported 15 collisions, 55 vessels running aground, 23 vessels sinking, 40 considerably damaged and 8 partly or fully damaged by fire.

The ministry says that safety at sea has considerably improved in the past years as a result of increased investment in navigation safety, personnel training and equipment for crews and vessels. The increased presence of port authorities' vessels has also helped reduce the number of accidents. Analyses have found that boaters' disregard for weather alerts, lack of experience and inadequate equipment remain the most frequent causes of accidents at sea.

More transportation news can be found in the Politics section.

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