Sunday, 14 August 2022

Maersk Launches Rijeka-Czech Republic Direct Freight Train Service

August the 14th, 2022 - Maersk has set up a Rijeka-Czech Republic service connecting this former industrial Northern Adriatic city and the town of Paskova in the Czech Republic.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the first direct freight, container and rail service from Rijeka to the Czech Republic has now been established, connecting the Port of Rijeka via the container terminal at Brajdica with the town of Paskova near Ostrava in the far east of the Czech Republic.

Emmanuel Papagiannakis, executive director of Jadranska vrata, which manages the Brajdica terminal, emphasised that the Czech market is one of the most important in all of Europe.

"Currently, we have several regular weekly block trains from Rijeka to Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Hungary, from where we're also connected to Slovakia," he said, stressing that the company appreciates Maersk's initiative to start this new Rijeka-Czech Republic service, and that direct rail connections have also been achieved as a result.

Papagiannakis pointed out that the new Rijeka-Czech Republic service confirms the increasing importance of the Adriatic Sea for the markets of Central and Southeastern Europe.

Maersk's rail service was launched back in May this year, and runs up to twice a week. The rail service is operated by CD Cargo Adria, a subsidiary of the Czech cargo operator CD Cargo, the largest provider of rail transport services in the Czech Republic and one of the main rail operators on the trans-European network corridor which includes the countries of Slovakia, Germany, Austria, Poland, and now, the Republic of Croatia.

The company Jadranska vrata (Adriatic Gate Container Terminal - AGCT) is a public-private partnership, in which International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) has a 51 percent share, and the Port of Rijeka has a 49 percent share.

In the period from 2011, when the company became part of the ICTSI corporation, which invested more than 50 million dollars in the modernisation of the terminal, to 2021, it handled two million container units (TEU) at the Brajdica container terminal, and about 70 percent of its volume now comes from outside of the borders of Croatia - from Central and Southeastern Europe.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated business section.

Tuesday, 19 July 2022

Is the Creation of a Croatian Fast Train Network a Pipe Dream?

July the 19th, 2022 - Is the idea of a much talked about Croatian fast train network just a pipe dream that will continue to swallow money and lead to next to nothing in the end?

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, it is practically impossible to avoid running into crowds and chaos in passenger traffic during the summer season, especially this one which has been almost entirely created as a result of the increased demand for services which had been previously devastated by the global coronavirus pandemic.

Not only that, more than ever, the focus of decision-makers has fallen on trains and railways, a form of travel that is both cheaper and more sustainable than airplanes, and could fulfill the growing needs of Europe's increasing need for mobility for either work or for holidays and tourism.

Passenger demand has also increased, which we can also see happening here in Croatia, and this country, as expected, the facilities are far from ready to meet the needs of the market - photos of exhausted passengers at stations are a daily occurrence in the media. At the same time, Croatia is also late for one important proverbial train. The vision for Europe's high-speed rail network was outlined in France back at the end of June by rail industry leaders, with the ambitious goal of doubling high-speed rail use by the year 2030 and tripling current levels by 2050.

This is only possible with the massive and accelerated expansion of the high-speed railway network, with a significantly greater focus on traffic between countries, which will be the biggest obstacle, according to experts who have been discussing it more and more intensively over more recent days in the world's leading media.

The good news is that Europe already has thousands of kilometres of dedicated high-speed rail, but it is mainly focused on its respective domestic markets, although there are also cross-border success stories such as Paris-Lyon, Milan-Rome, Barcelona-Madrid and the Berlin-Munich lines. What's the situation here in Croatia, though? This country has ongoing issues with trains, from very serious financial ones to situations in which drivers don't turn up for work, or dispatchers fall asleep on the job. With all of this firmly in mind, is the idea of a Croatian fast train network nothing more than a dream?

Why don't we have more trains? Building lines across international borders, even within the European Union (EU), brings with it some numerous challenges – who pays for what, how contracts are awarded and to whom, how might we resolve conflicting national standards and regulations... Moreover, even where international high-speed lines have been built, often at an absolutely enormous cost, national loyalties, suffocating bureaucracy and high fees are obstacles to using the full potential of these existing lines.

It is good, however, that the awareness for such a project within the European Union is now very high, and thus the will appears to be there. If the bloc wants to continue developing tourism and strengthen itself as the business center of Europe, Croatia and the idea of a Croatian fast train network will have to get on that train before it leaves the station. Whether or not that will ever happen with Croatia's love of a snail's pace and red tape, remains to be seen.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Monday, 18 July 2022

Fast Split-Osijek Train Arrives Late Because Dispatcher Falls Asleep

July the 18th, 2022 - One ''fast'' Split-Osijek train ended up arriving much later than it should have done, and not because of technical issues, but because the dispatcher allegedly fell asleep on the job.

There was another story fairly recently about a train arriving to Zagreb late because the driver simply didn't bother to turn up to work that day, so this shouldn't come as much of a surprise, although you have to admit it's quite amusing.

Croatia isn't really known for its trains being amazing, or even half decent to be perfectly honest. They often arrive late, the system is ancient, and it often seems like what would be an absolutely golden opportunity when it comes to tourism and indeed just regular transport, Croatian trains are lagging more than just a little bit.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, according to a report from RTL, the so-called fast Split-Osijek train was left at a standstill at the signal for as long as 42 minutes until the dispatcher finally woke up from his slumber.

The train arrived in front of Sveti Ivan Zabno and stopped at the signal, i.e. traffic light and waited... Some minutes passed, 42 of them in total, and while the dispatcher was sleeping, the train was still sitting and waiting. The aforementioned portal writes that they tried to call the sleeping dispatcher on his mobile phone, but to no avail, until the station master knocked on his door. Even he had to knock for a while for him to wake up from his deep sleep and - finally let the train move forward.

The train thus stood at the entrance signal from 07:40 until 08:22, simply waiting for its instructor to wake up.

Croatian Railways (HZ) has so far only confirmed that the train did indeed come to a halt at the entrance signal of the Sveti Ivan Zabno station, but they didn't want to comment on what exactly happened, obviously with good reason, so an inquiry was also sent to Sveti Ivan Zabno station.

"On July the 17th, 2022, from 07:54 to 08:20 on the L214 Gradec-Sveti Ivan Zabno line, Split-Osijek train 1783 stopped for 26 minutes at the entrance signal of the Sveti Ivan Zabno station. The reason for the train stopping was a personal mistake by the train dispatcher working at Sveti Ivan Zabno station. Due to the above, the proper procedure will be conducted against the aforementioned worker in accordance with the Labour Regulations and the Collective Agreement of HZ Infrastruktura d.o.o. The worker will be warned in writing about this omission with the possibility of terminating his employment contract. In addition to the above, the worker is being referred to the Commission for Damages due to the delayed train," the station announced, adding that the worker was not intoxicated on the job.

They admitted, therefore, that the Split-Osijek train was delayed due to an oversight by the aforementioned worker, but they didn't admit that he fell asleep. But what about the passengers and their rights in such situations? There were 96 of them sitting on the train.

"According to EC Regulation number 1371/2007 on the rights and obligations of passengers using rail transport, the passengers are entitled to compensation for delays in the following cases - for delays of 60 to 119 minutes, compensation is paid in the amount of 25 percent of the ticket price, and for delays longer than 120 minutes, compensation is issued to pay for 50 percent of the ticket price", Croatian Railways told RTL.hr.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Monday, 4 July 2022

Direct Osijek-Split Train Introduced... But the Journey Lasts 13 Hours

July the 4th, 2022 - A direct Osijek-Split train line has been introduced, much to the delight of many, but it's worth noting that in typical Croatian style, the journey will last thirteen hours and sleeping wagons have as such been made available to passengers.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, after more than thirty years, a direct seasonal train line to Split and Sibenik from continental cities has been introduced. Croatian Railways (HZ) announced some details, referring to affordable trips and the fact that ''fast'' overnight trains will run along this line. The price of a return ticket is about 300 kuna.

The first train of the season left a couple of days ago for Split, and the journey lasts thirteen hours.

The train left Osijek at 20:00 and went via Nasice, Virovitica and Bjelovar. It was joined in Zagreb by wagons from Vinkovci. If you decide to travel on the new direct Osijek-Split train then you'll need to travel about half an hour longer. Croatian Railways have made sure that the passengers who decide to take this night train have a place to sleep and eat, meaning the train boasts a restaurant.

Slavonians are happy that after more than thirty years, they will once again be able to travel on a direct Osijek-Split train line. However, it would be much better if the trip were a little shorter, which is difficult to expect due to the state of the tracks at the moment. The first seasonal night train from Osijek and Vinkovci to Split arrived on Saturday at the Split railway station 83 minutes late due to technical difficulties in Zagreb, and about three hundred passengers eventually disembarked.

The train will run from Osijek and Vinkovci to Dalmatia every day until August the 29th, 2022.

"The last direct Osijek-Split train ran back in the nineties, and with this project we tried to connect the whole of continental Croatia again. That's how we connected all five Slavonian counties to Dalmatia and enabled people to travel by rail in this way," said Zeljko Ukic, President of the Board of HZ Putnicki Prijevoz/Croatian Railways Passenger Transport.

Passengers heading down from Eastern Croatia to Split left from two locations - on Friday evening at 20:00 from Osijek and also from Vinkovci. They were then transported via Bjelovar along a part of the newly built railway (Gradec-Sveti Ivan Zabno).

Ukic apologised to passengers and journalists who were present for the delay that occurred due to difficulties connecting the two trains in Zagreb. "I hope that we will eliminate these issues and that such delays will not occur in the future," he added.

According to the timetable, the train will leave Osijek every day at 20:00 and should arrive at its final destination in Split at 08:42 the next morning. It will leave Split at 22:06, and should arrive in Osijek at 11:36.

Since the announcement of this new direct Osijek-Split train line, an encouraging 2,500 tickets have been sold, and according to the Croatian Government's decision, train transportation will be made free for people under nineteen years of age.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

Friday, 17 June 2022

New Sarajevo-Ploce Train Line to Begin Running This July

June the 17th, 2022 - After an almost decade-long break, the Sarajevo-Ploce train line is set to be introduced next month, as we approach the very height of the summer tourist season. The direct line will certainly make travelling to southern Dalmatia that bit easier for many from neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina.

As Morski writes, as of next month, the Sarajevo-Ploce train line (which will be direct and will operate on a seasonal basis) will run on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from July the 1st, 2022 to September 11th, 2022.

A meeting of the representatives of the Croatian Railways and the FBiH (Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina) Railways was held recently in the City of Zagreb, during which it was agreed that the Sarajevo-Ploce train line would be reintroduced after a long eight and a half year break, much to the delight of many would-be travellers.

It hasn't yet been stated how long a single trip on this particular line will actually last, but it was said that passengers will be transported by modern and comfortable Talgo wagons and that those travelling in groups of six or more adult passengers will have a 30 percent discount on their ticket price.

Children aged four to twelve, blind people and their entourage and groups of more than thirty passengers have a discount of as much as fifty percent on the ticket price.

The public will be informed about the exact timetable of the new and likely highly popular Sarajevo-Ploce train line and ticket prices in a timely manner, they announced from FBiH Railways.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

Saturday, 11 June 2022

HZ Cargo Employs RailPRO System for Customer and Employee Savings

June the 11th, 2022 - The Croatian national railway carrier HZ Cargo has implemented the RailPRO system which digitises and modernises its business processes, which in turn enables savings and brings benefits for customers and employees alike.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the RailPRO solution has been developed by a Croatian IT company, and HZ Cargo has the exclusive right to use it here in the country.

The key novelty of this new system is the ability to view the current situation on the ground in real time, so you know at any time where which train is, which cargo is being transported, in what quantities it is and how many possible delays along the way there could be. With such detailed real-time information, HZ Cargo points out, the optimal management of locomotives and wagons can be easily achieved. This results in a reduction in total costs and increases the availability of vehicles for additional work.

The shift towards digitalisation and cargo tracking has become more important than ever, especially given the transformation of global supply chains that has made logistics work more challenging than ever before, with increasing pressure to deliver faster and more flexible services at much more competitive prices. Freight tracking has become a key driver of digital innovations in the freight industry, and they're aware of this in HZ Cargo, which is the only one today to have this system implemented.

On the occasion of six months of the active implementation of the system, the director of HZ Cargo, Dragan Marcinko, pointed out that HZ Cargo is firmly following trends that put the importance of timely information and digitalisation of the entire business as paramount.

"Today's customers expect a high level of service - they want to know in real time where their cargo actually is, when it will arrive, and they want to follow each and every change on the cargo's planned route. This level of visibility will help boost HZ Cargo's overall competitiveness, and better monitoring could help return freight to rail. Today, our largest customers have an insight into the current traffic of trains and freight, they're provided with insight into all documentation, and this system actively contributes to the growth of labour productivity. All of this is in line with our strategic goal of modernising the entire business, increasing profitability and focusing on a modern way of doing business,'' explained Marcinko.

HZ Cargo currently has 66 of its own locomotives, the data of which are processed and analysed in real time, the system is currently being used by 900 employees and expansion is planned. GPS devices are installed in all active locomotives, as well as in the company's official cars.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated business section.

Saturday, 4 June 2022

This Season's First Tourist Train from Prague Arrives in Rijeka

ZAGREB, 4 June 2022 - This summer season's first train within the Czech rail operator RegioJet's seasonal service on the Prague- Zagreb-Rijeka/Split route arrived in Rijeka on Saturday morning, bringing more than 250 travellers to this northern Croatian seaport.

In Prague, about 600 passengers boarded the train, and of them 250 travelled for Rijeka while the remaining passengers are bound for Split.

This is the third season that RegioJet is operating this service.

In the previous two seasons, an estimated 150,000 passengers used this service to travel between Czechia, Slovakia and Croatia.

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

Tuesday, 17 May 2022

First Prague Regiojet Train This Year to Arrive in Rijeka on June 3rd

May the 17th, 2022 - The very first Prague Regiojet train will arrive from the Czech capital to the City of Rijeka on the Northern Adriatic coast on June the 3rd, but there will be nothing to speak of when it comes to the Polish line to Croatia this year, it seems.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, this year's first train of the Czech carrier Regiojet to Rijeka and Split departs from the City of Prague on June the 3rd, 2022. Tereza Ptackova, head of international projects at Regiojet, confirmed this for Rijeka portal Novi list, stating that the recognisable yellow Regiojet trains will run again via Zagreb to Rijeka and Split, but will not stop in the Hungarian capital of Budapest this year.

"The trains will run from June the 3rd to September the 26th, with them running on a daily basis throughout July and August, and three times a week in June and September. The route hasn't really changed. We still stop in the capitals of Prague, Bratislava and Zagreb. Some stops within the Czech Republic itself are set to differ from last year, but that is only because of the construction works," Ptackova explained.

The line goes Prague - Kolin, Havlickuv Brod - Zdar nad Sazavou - Brno - Breclav - Bratislava - Zagreb - Ogulin - Rijeka and Split. So, just like last year, the train will part in Ogulin, meaning part of the wagon will go to Rijeka, and part will head south to Split. Upon returning, the wagons will reunite into one composition in Ogulin.

This year, a new line from Poland was set to be launched. However, the events of the war in neighbouring Ukraine have put these plans on hold for now, with the Prague Regiojet train the only one set to run in 2022.

"The line from Poland to Croatia will not start running this year. We hope to start operations from Poland next year. During this extremely difficult situation, we're trying to help as much as possible, so we're transporting Ukrainian refugees from the Polish border town of Przemysl to the Czech Republic. In cooperation with Clovik v tisni, CD Cargo and Rail Cargo Logistics, we're also sending material aid into Ukraine,'' said Ptackova, adding that she didn't expect the war in Ukraine to affect ticket sales from the Czech Republic to Croatia whatsoever.

In terms of capacity, the head of Regiojet's international projects said that the capacity this year is more than 600 passengers per train, meaning that it is, once again, 15 wagons. Wagons with seating as well as sleeping cars will also be available.

“Perhaps the only change is that we've increased the number of so-called ''quiet wagons'' that are suitable for families with small children or the elderly. The trains will once again offer familiar comfort at very popular prices and tickets for the Prague Regiojet train have been on sale since March the 8th this year.

Ticket prices for the Rijeka range from 23.9 euros per seat, or 31.9 euros for a ticket in a sleeping compartment. Ticket prices for Split range from 36.1 euros for a seat and about 44 euros for a ticket in a sleeping car. Free services such as coffee, water, WiFi, an entertainment portal and the like are all entirely included in the ticket price.

This summer tourist season will be an excellent opportunity for people from the Czech Republic and Slovakia to travel to Croatia, but we also believe that the people of Rijeka and Split will use this opportunity to visit, for example, Bratislava or Prague,'' concluded Ptackova.

For more, check out our dedicated travel section.

Sunday, 17 April 2022

10 Years Ago HZ Ordered New Trains for €1.66 Billion, Where Are They?

April the 17th, 2022 - A decade ago, HZ (Croatian railways) purchased 44 new trains for the mind-boggling price of 1.66 billion kuna, but where are they today?

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Jadranka Dozan writes, in order to procure seven new diesel-electric motor trains, the Croatian Government gave the "green light" to HZ Putnicki prijevoz (CR Passenger transport) to sign pre-financing and lease agreements with EUROFIMA - the European Society for Financing the Procurement of Railway Materials. The value of this financing stands at a massive 31 million euros.

When it comes to the renewal of HZ Putnicki prijevoz's fleet, ten years ago, as part of the strategic goals of restructuring, the government "appointed" a plan worth 1.66 billion kuna for the purchase of a total of 44 new passenger trains - 32 being electric and 12 being diesel-electric.

A few years later (more precisely back in 2014), sales were agreed with Koncar - HZ PP Electric Vehicles, and in the same year financing was provided for a total of 33 such trains.

A total of 29 electric trains have been delivered so far, and the remaining three deliveries are expected to arrive later this year. In the case of diesel-electrics, all five had financing provided for them (one loan from HBOR, and four from an IBRD loan).

For the remaining seven vehicles, funding is being provided through EUROFIME, with delivery being promised by the end of 2024, thus completing the major procurement project.

In addition to approving these requests from HZ Putnicki prijevoz, in order to finance the reconstruction and modernisation of Croatian railway infrastructure on projects not financed from European Union (EU) funds and international development banks, the Croatian Government also approved a request from HZ Infrastruktura (Infrastructure) for two loans from HBOR in the amount of 200 million kuna.

These are loans envisaged by the Financing Plan for the year 2022 and projections for the coming years of 2023 and 2024. The explanation states, among other things, that the debt balance of Infrastruktura for total credit loans at the end of January amounts to 1.78 billion kuna.

For more, make sure to check out our business section.

Friday, 1 October 2021

Only 15% of Croatian School Pupils Will Use Free Train Transport

October the 1st, 2021 - Croatian school pupils will more than likely be taking advantage of free train transport (which is intended for primary and secondary school students), but it will in fact only be used by a very small amount of kids.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, the Association of Croatian Bus Lines (UHAJLP) welcomed the introduction of free train transport for primary and secondary Croatian school pupils, but also warned that such a form of transport will ultimately be used by only a small percentage of students.

Namely, in the explanation of its decision on the introduction of free transport by Croatian Railways (HZ), the Croatian Government pointed out that it will be able to be used by about 780,000 children and students of primary and secondary schools throughout the Republic of Croatia, but this mode of transport is hardly the most popular.

While most Croatian school pupils live close enough to their schools to simply walk there from home, others arrive by bus, are driven there by their parents, or catch trams in Zagreb, trains are far from popular. In fact, transportation for daily commuting to school will be used by a mere 10 to 15 percent of Croatian school pupils who just happen to be living right next to the railway tracks.

“The basis for the introduction of free transport by HZ Putnicki prijevoz (HZ passenger transport) is the so-called the concept of a public service on the basis of which this carrier receives over 450 million kuna a year from the state and is an additional pilot project of the competent ministry, which will pay out an additional 30 million kuna to this publicly owned company over the next fifteen months.

Although there are of course legal preconditions to take into consideration, as well as obligations derived from European Union directives, this public service is not paid to entrepreneurs who transport students, workers and other passengers by bus on routes that are generally not economically viable, but only to state companies such as HZ or Jadrolinija,'' they stated from UHAJLP.

Commenting on the recent decision of Transport Minister Oleg Butkovic, Hrvoje Mestrovic, president of the Association of Croatian Bus Public Line Carriers, pointed out that out of the total number of primary and secondary school students, HZ transports a maximum of 15 percent per year, which is hardly a huge amount of kids.

Slightly more than a third of those Croatian school pupils are located in cities that have some form of public city transport which is also covered by public services, while half of the students depend exclusively on public line bus carriers, explained Mestrovic.

For more, make sure to check our our dedicated lifestyle section.

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