Tuesday, 1 October 2019

3.5 Billion Euro to Be Invested in Railway Infrastructure by 2030

ZAGREB, October 1, 2019 - Minister of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure Oleg Butković, addressing a conference on Tuesday marking the 150th anniversary of the start of construction of the Zagreb - Rijeka railway line, announced that about €3.5 billion would be invested by 2030 in the reconstruction and construction of the railway infrastructure.

Opening a business forum, Butković said that the Zagreb-Rijeka railway had a lot of potential even today and that the development of the railway infrastructure was one of the main preconditions to achieve the full potential of the port of Rijeka. He said that an estimated €3.5 billion would be invested by 2030 in the reconstruction and construction of Croatia's railway infrastructure.

He recalled that in the 1990s railway freight transport accounted for 90% of transport at the Rijeka port but with the construction of the motorway a part of freight transport was redirected and now railway freight at the port accounts for about 25% of turnover. Today more than ever it is necessary to change those statistics, he said adding that the transport strategy has recognised the potential of the Zagreb-Rijeka railway line for freight transport and that the European Commission too has recognised the potential of railway freight transport and has financed the construction of several railway lines in Croatia, listing several railway infrastructure projects.

Primorje-Gorski Kotar County Prefect Zlatko Komadina said that it was necessary to embark on strategic projects as soon as possible, while Rijeka Mayor Vojko Obersnel commented on the poor state of the Rijeka passenger railway station considering that next year Rijeka would be the European Capital of Culture and that it was necessary to construct a railway line to modern standards.

"This has been talked about for decades and I hope that the time has come for us all to get to work. I have warned on several occasions that the railway station needs to be reconstructed and hope that will be done soon," the mayor said.

Butković said that money for the railway station had been secured and that two tenders had been advertised, but the bids were significantly higher than the estimated value of the project. He added that a new tender would be advertised soon with corrected prices and that he hoped contracts would be signed before the end of the year.

More transport news can be found in the Business section.

Friday, 20 September 2019

Croatia Slowly Making Progress in Decarbonising Transport

ZAGREB, September 20, 2019 - Croatia is slowly making progress in decarbonising transport thanks to the absorption of EU funding, but is not satisfied with the pace of progress, Transport Minister Oleg Butković said in Brussels on Friday.

"Croatia is now much better than it was in absorbing EU funding, financing cleaner municipal transport, purchasing new buses, new ships, building new ports. We are not satisfied with the dynamics, which should be better, but we are slowly moving up from the bottom," Butković told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of EU transport ministers.

One of the main topics discussed was the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in transport, as part of the EU's commitments under the Paris climate agreement.

Speaking of the decarbonisation of transport, Butković said that further investment in innovation was necessary, especially in rail transport and the construction of rail infrastructure. "This is very important to us, because we have already built road infrastructure," he said.

The minister announced that the upgrade and completion of the Trans-European Transport Network and maritime affairs would be among the topics of the Croatian presidency of the Council of the EU in the first half of 2020 and that an informal ministerial meeting would be organised in that regard.

He noted that Croatia is a maritime country with 15,000 seafarers and that issues such as protection of the marine environment against pollution and further digitisation of the maritime sector are important to it.

"This is very important to us because we finance large railway projects from the CEF (Connecting Europe Facility) and it is important that we are allocated more funds in the next multi-annual financial framework so that we can finance such projects," Butković said.

Butković said that the government was in touch with the European Commission over the recapitalisation of the national flag carrier Croatia Airlines, stressing that the company was important for the national economy, especially tourism.

"We will explain our decision on recapitalisation to the European Commission and I believe there will be no problems," he said.

The decision to recapitalise Croatia Airlines needs to be approved by the Commission, which will see whether it constitutes unlawful state aid.

More news about environmental protection can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Saturday, 24 August 2019

Number of Transported Passengers Down in Second Quarter

ZAGREB, August 24, 2019 - A total of 21.7 million passengers were transported in Croatia in the second quarter of 2019, down by 2.1% in comparison to the Q2 2018, while the volume of transported goods increased by 8.1%, according to the data released by the national statistical office (DZS).

Broken down by passenger transportation mode, only the transport of passengers by air recorded a rise, AND Air passenger transport had a 4.8% rise to 637,000 passengers.

On the other hand, the transport by bus, by sea and by rail saw a decline in the Q2 this year. In Q2, 5.1 million passengers were transported by rail, down 3% compared to Q2 2018.

The number of passengers using road transport fell by 2.4% to 12.1 million, and local maritime ferry companies registered a drop of 0.8% to 3.8 million passengers.

More news about transport issues can be found in the Business section.

Friday, 23 August 2019

Bus Driver Unions Stage 10-Minute Strike

ZAGREB, August 23, 2019 - Bus driver trade unions started a 10-minute warning strike on Friday morning on all regular bus services across the country.

The bus drivers formed a column of about 30 buses and headed toward the Ministry of the Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure.

Buses in regular services stopped driving at ten o'clock Friday for ten minutes, only buses driving on motorways at the time of the action continued to operate.

Unions are demanding that bus drivers be given the status of officials in cases when they are exposed to attacks and threats as well as 10% wage increase in an effort to stop the drain of bus drivers from emigrating.

They are requesting an urgent meeting with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and Transport Minister Oleg Butković, adding that if their demands are not met they would launch an all-out strike on 9 September.

Union leader Stjepan Lisičak told Hina that today's action is intended to influence the government and relevant ministries to launch negotiations to resolve the problems in the public transport system.

More news about bus transport in Croatia can be found in the Travel section.

Friday, 26 July 2019

Agreement Reached with Slovenia on Truck Tansit at Border Crossings

ZAGREB, July 26, 2019 - The Ministry of the Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure on Thursday informed that an agreement had been reached with Slovenia's ministry regarding freight road traffic at border crossings with Slovenia which will apply as of August 1.

The ministry said in a press release that after Slovenia's ministry for infrastructure adopted a regulation on June 1 introducing restrictions on freight road traffic at certain border crossings with Slovenia, meetings were held with the Slovenian side to resolve the problem for hauliers.

Conclusions were reached at the ministerial and operational levels and they will enter into force as of August 1.

At the latest meeting held on Wednesday, it was decided to establish a joint task force that will work on further improving and advancing transport cooperation between Croatia and Slovenia. The task force will commence with its work at the end of August and one of the most important tasks will be to resolve transit corridors and other outstanding issues regarding border crossings and border cooperation.

One of the other topics discussed at the meeting was a recent decision by the Croatian government to launch proceedings for an agreement to be reached with the Slovenian government, which resulted from joint efforts by Croatia's Transport Minister Oleg Butković and Slovenia's Transport Minister Alenka Bratušek, on the construction of a bridge at the Kaštel-Dragona border crossing in Istria.

The total value of the bridge according to Croatian Roads's estimates would be 5 million kuna, with Croatia securing half the funds and Slovenia would provide the other half.

More news about relations between Croatia and Slovenia can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Croatian, Slovenian Hauliers Demand Transit Across All Border Crossings

ZAGREB, July 17, 2019 - Slovenian and Croatian hauliers should be able to use every border crossing, officials of the two countries' chambers of trades and crafts have concluded at a meeting, the Croatian chamber said on Wednesday.

They met in Ljubljana to discuss the issue of traffic flow across border crossings, concluding that the closure of some crossings has caused damage to both countries' hauliers and that it is also a political issue because of which both economies suffer.

The president of the Croatian chamber, Dragutin Ranogajec, and his Slovenian counterpart Branko Meh were agreed that this problem demanded an urgent solution by the two governments.

The interests of Slovenian and Croatian hauliers are the same, so transport and supply between the two economies must be undisturbed, the officials concluded.

On June 1, the Slovenian Infrastructure Ministry introduced on 17 local border crossings with Croatia a restriction barring the transit of trucks exceeding 7.5 tonnes in weight. Consequently, Croatian hauliers must use international crossings, which has resulted in higher expenses and longer transport.

Slovenia says the restriction is aimed at increasing the safety and quality of life of the local population, so it shifted cargo transport from state roads to motorways. Croatian hauliers, however, believe the restriction is a response to Croatia's closure of the Mursko Središće border crossing for the transit of trucks exceeding 7.5 tonnes.

Croatian and Slovenian transport ministers met in June to discuss the restriction.

More news about relations between Croatia and Slovenia can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Bikers Protest Against Road Toll Collection on Krk Bridge

ZAGREB, June 29, 2019 - Bikers from Rijeka and Primorje-Gorski Kotar County on Saturday staged a protest against the collection of the road toll on the bridge connecting the mainland with the northern Adriatic island of Krk, slowing down traffic by paying the road toll with small change.

Traffic across the bridge, which is usually dense at this time of the tourist season, was significantly slower on Saturday morning.

Police were regulating traffic, directing bikers to one of the four open road toll collection points.

The protesting bikers said that the purpose of their action was to have road toll collection on the Krk bridge cancelled as the bridge had long been paid for and was the only bridge in the country where the road toll was still collected.

Asked to comment on the protest, Transport Minister Oleg Butković said in Rijeka that the protesters were harming themselves and Croatia but noted that there were grounds to abolish the road toll for the Krk bridge.

"We are conducting talks with the World Bank in that regard. The total debt of the road sector is 5.5 billion euro and we cannot make a decision of that kind without international creditors who helped finance the construction of motorways and refinance the debt," Butković said, adding that the government would cancel road toll collection for the Krk bridge if such a move was approved by international creditors.

More Krk news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Road and Motorway Operators Plan to Invest over 3.2 Billion Kuna

ZAGREB, June 19, 2019 - The state-owned roads operator Hrvatske Ceste (HC) plans to invest 2.6 billion kuna in road construction and maintenance this year, while the Hrvatske Autoceste (HAC) motorways company will invest 627 million kuna for the same purpose, Minister of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure Oleg Butković told a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

HC will invest 942 million kuna, or 37 percent of the planned amount, in road construction using EU funds, 640 million kuna or 25 percent in road construction using own funds, 548 million kuna or 21 percent in reconstruction and maintenance, and 423 million kuna or 17 percent in regular and extraordinary maintenance.

Among the key projects mentioned by the minister are road connectivity with southern Dalmatia (3.2 billion kuna), a multi-modal platform in the Split agglomeration (2.44 billion kuna), the DC 403 road in the Rijeka area (500 million kuna), and the Okučani-Gradiška junction and bridge across the Sava river (530 million kuna).

HAC plans to invest 245 million kuna of own funds, or 39 percent of the planned amount, in motorway construction, 224 million kuna of own funds, or 36 percent, in extraordinary maintenance, HRK 62 million of EU funds, or 10 percent, in construction and extraordinary maintenance, and the remaining 97 million kuna, or 15 percent, in construction and maintenance.

HAC's ongoing investment projects include work on the Beli Manastir - Halas bridge section of the Corridor Vc motorway, while the section between Beli Manastir and the Hungarian border, the Novi Vinodolski ring road and the Lekenik-Sisak section are under preparation.

More news about Croatian roads can be found in the Business section.

Monday, 10 June 2019

Croatia and Slovenia at Odds over Border Crossings for Trucks

ZAGREB, June 10, 2019 - Transport Minister Oleg Butković said on Monday that in order to resolve the problem of Slovenia's cargo transport restriction on 17 smaller border crossings with Croatia, it was proposed to open those crossings only for Croatian and Slovenian hauliers.

He said the proposal was made last week at a meeting with Slovenian Transport Minister Alenka Bratušek. "Croatia isn't against that decision because it's good for safety on state roads in both countries," he told reporters.

Representatives of the two countries' transport ministries will meet on Thursday "to try to formalise everything," he said. "I believe the Slovenian side will agree to that because I think it's good for us and them."

Butković went on to say that he and Bratušek also talked about the renovation of bridges on the border crossings.

On June 1, the Slovenian Transport Ministry introduced on 17 border crossings with Croatia a restriction on cargo vehicles weighing over 7.5 tons, with the explanation that it wanted to improve the safety and quality of life of the local population and was therefore shifting cargo transport from state roads to motorways.

Croatian hauliers believe the restriction is Slovenia's response to the closure of the Mursko Središće border crossing for trucks weighing over 7.5 tons.

The president of the Association of Croatian Road Carriers, Dragutin Kranjčec, said last week they would wait for an answer regarding a solution to the problems caused by the Slovenian restriction and that if none was provided this week, they would take other actions if necessary.

More news about relations between Croatia and Slovenia can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Pelješac Bridge Access Roads Will Be Ready on Time, Says Minister

ZAGREB, May 30, 2019 - The national road operator Hrvatske Ceste (HC) took into account of possible appeals, lawsuits and so on with regard to access roads to the Pelješac Bridge, and now it is necessary to wait for the court's decision on the appeal that was lodged, but all the works will be completed within the set deadlines, Minister of Maritime Affairs, Transport, and Infrastructure Oleg Butković told reporters on Thursday.

Butković said that "we are used to that and nothing we haven't seen before is occurring," and that "no one, including the Croatian government, prime minister, ministers or HC's director can or is allowed to influence the independent decisions of the courts or the State Commission for Supervision of Public Procurement Procedures because they are independent bodies.

"All I can do is appeal on those institutions to make their decision as soon as possible," Butković said, adding that the court had 30 days to decide on the appeals and then it will be known who the contractor for the access roads will be.

The appeal was lodged on May 15, so the court should deliver its decision by June 15, he said and added that if the appeal is rejected, HC would sign the contract for the road construction, and if the appellant is not satisfied with the decision, it has the opportunity to appeal to the Administrative Court, but that will not halt the works.

The latest hitch emerged after the Greek Avax company lodged an appeal to the High Administrative Court (VUS) in mid-May against a decision by the State Commission for Supervision of Public Procurement Procedures quashing a decision by HC that the access roads to the Pelješac Bridge be built by that company.

On May 16, VUS confirmed that it had received Avax's appeal. Under the Public Procurement Act, a decision has to be delivered within 30 days.

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

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