MODERNISATION of Romania’s principal east-west rail corridor over the next three years is to be managed by a consortium of Belgian high-speed line promoter TUC Rail SA and Brussels-based consultancy Transurb Consult. CFR SA General Manager Viorel Simut signed a US$9·2m technical assistance contract on November 16, together with TUC Rail President Antoine Martens. Over 500 Belgian and Hungarian staff are expected to be deployed on the project.

Upgrading of the 170 km Bucuresti - Ploiesti - Brasov section of Trans-European Corridor IV is due to be completed by 2003. Total cost of the work is put at US$220m, of which US$182m will come from the European Investment Bank under the terms of a 15-year loan agreement signed in June 1998. Further support will come from the Bank of Japan, World Bank, EBRD and the EU’s Phare programme.

The principal elements of the work include formation improvements, bridge and tunnel replacement and track renewal, together with modernisation of stations, telecommunications and electrical control systems. The line is to be upgraded for 200 km/h operation, although intitially trains will be restricted to 160. Even so, Simut expects the time for the 622 km Bucuresti - Timisoara journey to be cut from 8h to 6h. n