March 1 saw the start of revenue services on the long-awaited Bucuresti metro extension from Gara de Nord to 1 Mai. The 3·3 km branch of Line 3 has intermediate stations at Basarab and Grivita, bringing the network to 63route-km and 43 stations.

Participating at the opening ceremonies were Romanian transport minister Traian Basescu, Metrorex SA General Manager Gheorghe Udriste, and European Investment Bank director Flavio Campo. EIB has provided 590m towards the 800m lei cost of the extension (DM95 p46).

Designed by Metrosul SA and built by CCCF Bucuresti and Tunnels Brasov, the branch runs in tunnel under Grivita Street. It is expected to handle around 36000 passengers a day. Services are currently running at 7min intervals using stock transferred from the other three lines. Frequencies will be stepped up following the delivery of 18 six-car articulated trainsets ordered from Adtranz Sweden in June 1999. Based on the Stockholm C20 design, these cars are also being funded by the EIB through a 110m euro loan. Following delivery in 2001-02, the new cars will be used on north-south Line 2 between IMGB and Pipera 3.

Udriste is very keen to push ahead with a 2·9 km extension from 1 Mai to Laromet. However, his top priority is finishing the 5 km Line 1 branch from Nicolae Grigorescu to Linea de Centura, which is around 50% complete. Metrorex hopes to start work shortly on a feasibility study for a metro extension from Laromet to Baneasa and Otopeni airport, which would be a mix of tunnel and surface running.