Dobra, Slovakia.

EUROPE: The proposed 450 km broad-gauge railway from Košice in eastern Slovakia to the Wien-Bratislava region offers the potential to create jobs and provide economic benefits to four countries, according to a pre-feasibility study undertaken by Roland Berger Strategy Consultants.

The study was commissioned in April by project promoter Breitspur Planungsgesellschaft mbH, an equally-owned joint venture formed by the national railways of Austria, Russia, Slovakia and Ukraine in December 2009.

An extension of the 1 520 mm gauge network from Košice to Wien is 'technically and legally feasible', the study found, suggesting that 'by creating a non-interrupted and efficient transport chain from Russia, China and other Asian countries to central Europe' the line would offer 'a new dimension for time-competitive and environmentally sustainable rail transport in Eurasia.'

The line would largely parallel the existing 1 435 mm gauge railway between Kosice and the Wien-Bratislava area. The cost is put at €6·3bn, plus €240m for terminals and €130m for additional rolling stock.

It is likely to attract 16 million tonnes of new freight traffic a year by 2050, and potentially as much as 24 million tonnes in the best case scenario. Construction would create around 21 000 direct and indirect jobs, with an average of 8 100 new posts in train operations and a further 3 100 for terminals and infrastructure services once the route is fully operational.

The next step will see the findings assessed by the four railways and the governments of the countries involved. Then, Breitspur says, 'we can consider beginning design work, conducting a detailed environmental impact assessment, choosing an optimal financing model and completing the business plan'.