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April 08, 2010

European broad-gauge extension moves closer

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RUSSIAN Railways (RZD) has signed an agreement with its counterparts in Slovakia, Austria and Ukraine that will pave the way for the extension of the 1524mm-gauge network to Austria. Under the terms of the deal, which was signed during Russian President Mr Dmitry Medvedev's visit to Slovakia this week, Roland Berger Strategy Consultants will be appointed as the main contractor for the 432km link between the existing 1524mm-gauge railhead at Košice in eastern Slovakia and Vienna.

The line is expected to follow the existing standard-gauge Košice - Zvolen line as far as Filakovo, and then via a new alignment, join the Budapest - Bratislava line west of Nové Zamky. It will cross the Danube near Bratislava.

According to RZD president Mr Vladimir Yakunin, initial estimates put the cost of the project at Euros 4.7 billion, which includes Euros 312 million for upgrading the existing 87km broad-gauge line in Slovakia. Construction will take around four years and the line could open in 2016.

The broad-gauge line to Košice was built in the 1960s to carry coal and iron ore from the Soviet Union to the East Slovakian Steelworks. The steelworks was sold to US steel in 2000, but still receives raw materials from Ukraine via the broad-gauge line.
Containers are transhipped between standard and broad-gauge
wagons at Dobra in eastern Slovakia.
Photo: Keith Fender 

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