SLOVAKIA: The Ministry of Transport has called for tenders for its first contract to operate subsidised long-distance passenger services. This is intended as the initial stage in a long-term plan to liberalise the passenger market.

The tender announced on November 6 covers the 230 km Bratislava – Banská Bystrica route via Šaľa, Levice and Zvolen, which carries 1·3 million train-km/year. The electrified line has been selected for the pilot scheme because it is a continuous through route with sufficient capacity.

The winner would be awarded a 10-year contract covering 1·5 million train-km/year. There would be eight pairs of fast trains per day, each with a minimum capacity of 530 seats. The value of the contract is estimated at slightly over €10m. The start date is still be decided.

Responses are required by January 15 2016. Arriva Slovakia, RegioJet and Leo Express have expressed interest, along with Czech national operator ČD. Incumbent national passenger operator ZSSK is also to bid.

ZSSK currently operates 97% of the subsidised passenger trains in Slovakia, with the remaining 3% being inter-regional services on the 95 km Bratislava – Komárno line which have been operated by RegioJet since March 2012.

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