ROMANIA’s passenger train operating company has been split with effect from February 1. Formed during the break-up of the former state railway in October 1998, CFR Calatori has now been dividedinto a national inter-city operator and eight regional companies.

Announcing the restructuring, Transport Minister Traian Basescu said the new structure would allow better control of costs and targeting of subsidies. CFR Calatori is retaining responsibility for 400 long-distance services, with 1000 local services passing to companies based in Bucuresti, Brasov, Iasi, Galati, Constanta, Craiova, Cluj and Timisoara.

Basescu says each company has been legally incorporated with its own General Manager and two assistants; ownership of locos, rolling stock and stations will be transferred as the operations start up. The minister expects local management to ’create the environment for better collaboration’ and to ’satisfy the real needs of passengers, industry and agriculture.’

CFR Calatori Managing Director Valentin Bota has reported that 1999 was the first year for a decade in which the passenger business did not incur a loss. However, this included government subsidies amounting to 62% of turnover. During the year 500bn lei was allocated for refurbishing 200 coaches at Astra in Arad. Another 300 are to be tackled this year at a cost of 700bn lei.