ROMANIAN Railways (CFR) has signed a contract with a consortium of Webuild and Salcef for Lot 3 of the project to upgrade the Caransebeș - Timişoara - Arad route to allow the operation of passenger trains at up to 160km/h and freight trains at up to 120km/h.

The Lei 1.4bn ($US 294.35m) contract covers the 14km section between East Timişoara and Ronat Triaj and involves modernisation and track doubling without disrupting services on the existing line. The length of line also includes construction of five bridges, three railway stations and four road overbridges.

Salcef Group says it holds a 28% stake in the project, including the design and construction of the track work and electrification systems, while consortium partner Webuild is responsible for the remaining 72.1%, including civil engineering.

Work in Timişoara includes the raising of roads and a roundabout by 10m to cross the railway on bridges, and the corresponding construction of two 230m-long vehicle access ramps.

Improvements at Timişoara Nord station include the installation of escalators, lifts, a conveyor belt for luggage and a new walkway leading to a multi-storey car park planned for the city’s stadium area. This will feature a moving walkway and new ticket vending machines.

Romania’s minister of transport, Mr Sorin Grindeanu, says that 42 months are being allowed for completion of the contract, with six months allowed for design work and 36 months for construction and execution. He added that “after 42 months I am convinced [it] will lead to an increase in the quality of life not only in Timişoara, but for passengers on this section. I think this is the biggest project ever signed in our city.”

The project is being financed by the European Commission’s Large Infrastructure Operational Programme (LIOP) whose sustainable transport objectives include development of the TEN-T corridor programme, where Caransebeș - Timișoara - Arad forms part of the Rhine - Danube Corridor.

Webuild and Salcef also won the Lot 1 contract for modernising the 39.5km Caransebes - Lugoj section worth Lei 1.3bn, and the Lot 4 contract for the 54.86km Ronat Triaj - Arad section worth Lei 2.1bn. The Lei 1.9bn contract for the 53.91km Lot 2 Lugoj - Timişoara Est section was won by FCC Construction.

“The signing of the contract for the modernisation of the Timişoara Est - Ronat Triaj section represents that starting point for the development of the railway infrastructure on the Caransebes - Timişoara - Arad section, the southern branch of the Rhine - Danube Corridor, and a first step in aligning the railway infrastructure in the western part of the country to European transport standards,” says director of CFR, Mr Ion Simu.