Sunday, 14 May 2017 11:08

Romania's planned Railway Infrastructure

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The Romanian General Transport Master Plan (GTMP) poses a number of threats to national passenger rail services and puts into question the EU White Paper’s mobility objectives. The looming closure of up to 40% of the Romanian railway infrastructure has been a growing concern for the whole European public transport community.

The whole process started in 2012, when the Romanian government proposed the GTMP to outline the national transport strategy and investment priorities up to 2030. In July 2015, the European Commission adopted the 2014‑2020 Large Infrastructure Operational Programme for Romania and accepted a part of the funds foreseen for the GTMP.

The Master Plan allocates up to €14bn for rail infrastructure investment, mostly the renovation and upgrading of around 4,000km of railway lines. The Plan also acknowledges the significant deterioration in Romania’s railways, referring to the obsolete infrastructure, ageing rolling stock, ineffective operations and dropping ridership. Yet, the suggested remedies are relatively ambiguous and questionable. Why?

According to the GTMP, the main remedy is to “focus on the sustainability of [railway] infrastructure,” which roughly represents only about 60% of all existing routes, mainly the main lines. This, in turn, means that the remaining 40%, mainly local and regional lines could be simply shut down, or at best transferred to private investors or local authorities. Most significantly, it is difficult for the moment to find clear, credible and long-term socio-economic, cost-benefit or technical analyses explaining which lines will be shut down and why.

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