FIVE CONTRACTS have been awarded by the Bulgarian Ministry of Transport for upgrading work on the rail network.

Astaldi of Italy has been selected for a €163m project to reconstruct and electrify the 143 km international corridor between Plovdiv and the Turkish border at Svilengrad. This work is expected to take around 39 months. Thales has been contracted to renew the signalling and telecommunications equipment on the route for €35·6m, and this work is due to be completed by March 31 2008.

Last month the ministry signed a €3·5m contract with a consortium led by Iberica de Estudios e Ingeneria for technical assistance with the upgrading of the 269 km line leading north from Sofia to Vidin, where work is expected to start this year on the long-planned road/rail bridge across the Danube to Calafat in Romania.

A consortium led by Systra of France is to provide technical assistance for upgrading BDZ's northern main line between Mezdra and Gorna Oryahovitsa under a €3m contract signed on September 19. The consortium also includes Sudop of the Czech Republic, Getinsa of Spain and local firms Trans-El Engineering and Vector-Bul. Sudop and Trans-El have also been selected for a €5·5m contract to support the rehabilitation of the Plovdiv – Burgas route.