MAY 25 saw the start of upgrading work on the initial 37·7 km section of the Plovdiv - Svilengrad line in Bulgaria.

Reconstruction and electrification of the section from Krumovo on the outskirts of Plovdiv as far as Parvomai is being project managed by Greek contractor Tema SA. Local firm Rubicon Engineering will be responsible for site supervision, together with Typsa, Louis Berger, Systra and Trademco.

According to Deputy Transport Minister Vesela Georgieva, the €85m contract is due to be completed in 2008. Line speeds will be raised to 80 km/h for freight trains and 120 km/h for passenger services.

Reconstruction of the Plovdiv - Svilengrad line is expected to cost €340m in total. Of this €153m is being funded through the EU’s ISPA programme and €37m is coming from the Bulgarian government, with the remainder financed by a €150m EIB loan.

Tenders for work on the remaining 114route-km from Parvomai to the Greek and Turkish border crossing points at Svilengrad were expected to be called at the end of May, with work on this section to begin in 2007. n