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.

Sunday, 5 January 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More transport news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More transport news can be found in the Travel section.

Monday, 16 December 2019

New 35 Million Euro Railway Track Inaugurated Northeast of Zagreb

ZAGREB, December 16, 2019 - The 12.2 kilometre Gradec - Sv. Ivan Žabno railway line, which has cost 258 million kuna and has been co-funded by the European Union's funds, was formally opened on Monday morning.

This is the first investment in a new railway line in 52 years in Croatia, and in attendance at the ceremony were top officials including Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and Transport and Infrastructure Minister Oleg Butković who were among passengers aboard the train which was the first to be driven from Sveti Ivan Žabno to Gradec and back, some 60 kilometres north-east of Zagreb, on Monday morning.

The new railroad will shorten commuting times from these parts of Croatia and the capital city of Zagreb.

This investment included three overpasses and three underpasses and a bridge. Also bypasses and ringroads in the area were reconstructed.

PM Plenković said that the new railway line would facilitate the transport of residents in the counties of Koprivnica-Križevci, Zagreb and Bjelovar-Bilogora, and cut travel time between Zagreb and Bjelovar by an hour.

Minister Butković added that upon the reconstruction of some railway lines and the construction of a new section between Križevci and Dugo Selo, the travel time by train between Bjelovar and Zagreb would take less than an hour.

Butković said that currently 1.5 billion euro of investments were being implemented in the rail sector in Croatia.

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

Monday, 25 November 2019

Investments in Transport Infrastructure Worth More Than 2.7 Billion Euro

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More transport news can be found in the Business section.

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

COSCO Launches New Shipping Intermodal Service between Rijeka and Central Europe

ZAGREB, October 22, 2019 - The new shipping and intermodal service COSCO Rijeka Land Sea Express, connecting the northern Croatian Adriatic port to central Europe, was formally launched at the port's Brajdica container terminal on Monday.

The shipping and intermodal service was organised by the largest Chinese company COSCO Shipping Lines and Ocean Rail Logistics, a company within the COSCO group responsible for rail transport.

The service comprises a regular shipping line between Rijeka and the Greek port of Piraeus as well as rail services operating along the routes Rijeka-Budapest-Rijeka and Rijeka-Belgrade-Rijeka.

By combining overseas and rail services under the name Rijeka Land Sea Express, COSCO offers its clients a transit time of 32 days from eastern China to Budapest and of 28 days from southern China to Budapest, using Piraeus and Rijeka as transloading ports.

The project was launched in March and has been fully operational since July.

The Minister for Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure, Oleg Butković, said: "With our cooperation with the Chinese companies we managed to set things in motion to increase traffic in the port of Rijeka."

The director of the Rijeka Port Authority, Denis Vukorepa, said he expected that nearly 300,000 container units would be transloaded at Brajdica this year. He emphasised the fact that COSCO, as the world's largest shipping company, had established a direct line between Rijeka and Pireus and an intermodal service.

The ceremony was also attended by representatives of COSCO Shipping Lines from Shanghai, Shipping Europe and the concessionaire Adriatic Gate Container Terminal.

More Rijeka news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Contracts for Ston Ring Road and Access Roads to Pelješac Bridge Signed

ZAGREB, October 9, 2019 - Contracts for the construction of access roads to the Pelješac Bridge and the Ston ring road were signed on Wednesday by the government and the Strabag and Avax companies, concluding the tender procedure which was ridden with appeals, and now construction can finally commence.

The Duboka-Šparagovići/Zaradeže section will be built by the Austrian Strabag company while the Ston ring road and the sub-sections Šparagovići/Zaradeže-Prapratno and Prapratno-Doli will be built by the Greek Avax company. All in all, this involves about 30 kilometres of access roads.

Strabag's price for its section amounts to 478.3 million kuna without VAT, while Avax's price for its section was 511.5 million kuna without VAT.

The section to be constructed by Avax should be completed in 28 months' time while Strabag's project will be completed in 33 months. Construction is expected to start within the next two and a half months.

Minister of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure Oleg Butković said that today's contract signing concludes the first phase of the tender and that construction of access roads can now begin, adding that he did not expect any problems during construction but that one never knew what can happen in the future.

Asked whether he was afraid things could go wrong, Butković said that considering the contractors, the process and documentation prepared by the Hrvatske Ceste road operator, the good designers and good supervision, he did not expect any major problems, as these are global companies.

He believes that the situation has been defined and does not expect any lawsuits to be lodged at the Administrative Court which, he said, would not prevent the construction of the access roads. He could not say whether there would be any time difference between the completion of the Pelješac Bridge itself and the access roads.

"I believe that everything will be completed in this financial perspective, because we have to do it. We have to spend this money by the end of 2023 and that will occur before that," said Butković.

He added that this is a demanding project and one of the most important infrastructure projects in the country.

Hrvatske Ceste CEO Josip Škorić said that total value of the contract signed today was a little less than 990 million kuna and, together with the bridge, the total amount of 3.1 billion kuna.

Avax director general Christos Ioannou said that the company was pleased to be able to participate in this project and that it will certainly be completed well and in time, while Strabag's director Veljko Nižetić underscored that Strabag considers this to be an important project and that Strabag has been present in Croatia for more than 20 years.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković attended the signing ceremony and wished the contractors the best of luck and speedy completion of works.

Both Strabag and Avax appealed against each other to the State Commission for Supervision of Public Procurement Procedures. The commission rejected both appeals.

More news about Pelješac Bridge can be found in the Business section.

Monday, 7 October 2019

New Route in Discussion for Anticipated Split Airport Train Project

October 7, 2019 - The strategic project connecting the Split ferry port and airport, unofficially estimated at a total of 150 million euro, got a new twist last week.

As T.portal confirmed by several sources, after a disagreement that the future railways should pass through Kastela, a completely new route surfaced amid the chaos. 

According to the proposal made by HŽ Infrastruktura to the Ministry of Transport, the trains would run on an overhead line that is parallel to the Split-Trogir highway, mostly on the pillars that would sit between its two lanes.

“This solution is only slightly more expensive than the route proposed by the City of Kastela, which, in one part, rises to a relatively high altitude and almost completely bypasses populated areas. On the other hand, it is much cheaper than installing a railway line in a tunnel or a buried pipe in the lower part of Kastela, which was insisted by local authorities, and thus could be financed from European funds. Third, there are no property and legal issues on this route, while the performance itself would be relatively straightforward. It would not even be necessary to close the entire expressway for traffic, but only possibly one of its lanes,” said T.portal’s source. 

In addition to the Ministry of Transport, a proposal for a new, fourth route of the railway through Kastela was sent to consultants from Ernst & Young, who will make an assessment of its cost-effectiveness in the next month, and include it in an already completed study, followed by a change of spatial plans.

At a government session last May in Split, connecting the Split ferry port and airport was declared a project of strategic national importance, which implies, among other things, possible funding from European funds from 2020 to 2027. It should be suitable because Split airport handles 3.3 million passengers per year and the ferry port over 5.5 million, while the daily migrations of Split and Kastela residents should be added.

In fact, there are already 18 kilometers of railroad tracks between the two endpoints that need to be thoroughly reconstructed, and the added section - depending on whether it would be separated in Kastel Kambelovac or Kastel Stari - would be between eight and ten kilometers long. The final train station would be located south of the newly built Split Airport terminal, though there are ideas to move it to nearby Trogir.

Small suburban trains have been operating between a part of Kastela and Split for a long time, and since this summer, the famous 'mini-metro' between the Split suburbs and the city center has been in operation. However, the mini-metro has recorded a low number in passengers - reportedly only one per ride on average - but city officials continue to say that 'citizens should get used to this option' and that everything will make sense when the airport and ferry are connected with one logical and complete project.

It was announced that several existing railway stations in Split, Solin, and Kastela would be reconstructed by next summer, and HŽ Infrastruktura also signed a 2.7 million kuna contract last week to develop the technical documentation of the underground station at Trg Hrvatske bratske zajednice, exactly halfway between Kopilica and the port, in the administrative part of town, near the court and the police. 

The station should adapt to new security conditions and be about a hundred meters long, with platforms and exits to Trg Hrvatske bratske zajednice. The same project envisages the installation of a ventilation and fire-fighting system and other equipment in the Split 'metro' tunnel. 

To read more about travel in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.

Friday, 4 October 2019

Parliament Decides to Declare October 21 National Road Safety Day

ZAGREB, October 4, 2019 - Members of parliament on Friday decided unanimously that October 21 should be marked as a national, awareness-raising road safety day and that more work was necessary on accident prevention.

The MPs thus supported a joint proposal put forward by the parliamentary committees on internal policy and maritime affairs which had originally asked that the day in question be marked as a national day without mobile phones in traffic but which accepted the government's suggestion that the day should be observed as a national road safety day.

The government agreed that the use of mobile phones in traffic was a major problem but noted that their use was only one of four factors affecting road safety, the other three being speed, alcohol and the non-use of the seat belt.

During a debate on the matter, MPs warned that the number of victims of road accidents in Croatia was much higher than the EU average. In the EU, the rate is 49 per one million inhabitants, while in Croatia it is 80, and only Bulgaria and Romania have worse statistics, said Social Democrat Željko Jovanović, noting that in 2018, 331 people were killed in road accidents.

In the first six months of 2019, six children were killed and 54 were seriously injured in traffic accidents, an increase of 150% from the same period of 2018, said Pero Ćosić of the ruling HDZ party.

More traffic news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

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