INVITATIONS to tender are expected to be issued in September for upgrading the first 38 km of Bulgarian State Railway’s main line from Plovdiv to Svilengrad and the frontier crossings into Turkey and eastern Greece. Tendering for the remainder of the line will follow in December.

Phase 1 between Plovdiv and Parvomai is expected to get underway in April 2004, under a €37m design-and-build contract covering civil works and electrification at 25 kV 50Hz. Work should be in progress along the whole 150 km route by the end of 2004. Completion of the project is scheduled for 2007 at a total cost of €340m. The European Investment Bank is providing €150m and the EU’s ISPA programme a further €153m.

At present the whole line is single track. The upgrade will be extensive, with electrification throughout and land acquired where necessary to permit significant sections to be doubled and realigned for 160 km/h operation. Grade separation of numerous level crossings is also included in the project, which will see stations improved or rebuilt.

Resignalling is expected to be to a similar standard to the Sofia - Burgas project completed in October 2001 which was the first line in Europe where ERTMS Level 1 was applied to provide ATP. A signalling and telecoms contract valued at €75m euros and covering the whole line will go out to tender in December.

H This month is due to see the start of prequalification for design and construction of a €120m road and rail bridge across the Danube between Vidin and Calafat in Romania. Tenders will be invited next year with the aim of starting work in January 2005. BDZ is seeking ISPA funding for a €100m upgrading of the 180 km Mezdra - Vidin line and the 19 km final connection to the bridge.