Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. Earth Science News .




Subscribe free to our newsletters via your




















FAST TRACK
China steams to the rescue for Bulgaria's creaking railways
By Vessela SERGUEVA
Cherepish, Bulgaria (AFP) April 30, 2017


"Granny Bear" has proved a big hit in Bulgaria since the 1930s steam train returned from retirement, chugging day-trippers through stunning scenery from Sofia to the Cherepish Monastery.

"She is super, the engine, I like it better than a modern one!" said an excited Dimitar Kirilov, 12, taking the trip on the "Baba Metsa" train with his grandparents.

A particular attraction is the luxury carriage used by Bulgaria's former king, Boris III (1918-1943). "So elegant and modest," gushed Rada Gancheva, 58.

The comforting hoots, whistles and puffs of steam trains have proved a big money spinner for Bulgarian State Railways (BDZ), earning it 250,000 euros ($280,000) last year.

"The Vitosha Express diesel train of (ex-communist dictator) Todor Zhivkov will soon be made available also," promised BDZ's chief executive Georgy Drumev.

- Chronic debt -

However, this success belies the dire state of the railways in the European Union's poorest country.

According to a 2015 Boston Consulting Group study, Bulgarian trains have the worst quality and safety record among 25 European countries surveyed.

The number of Bulgarians using trains halved between 2000 and 2015 and the volume of freight is a 10th of what it was in the 1980s, according to Georgy Minchev, of the freight transport association.

Creaking infrastructure and ageing locomotives and rolling stock mean that the average train speed is just 55 kilometres (35 miles) per hour.

The 440-kilometre trip from Sofia to Varna on the Black Sea takes eight hours -- and that's on the so-called "express train".

"We started with a 40-minute delay and it grew to four hours by the time we arrived in Varna, making it a 12-hour journey," said one recent traveller, Maria Damyanova, 48.

Horror stories abound on the internet about people's experiences, particularly in winter when the simplest journey can turn into a nightmare.

"Iron nerves and plenty of food are needed if you want to take the train in Bulgaria," reads a typical social media entry by one disgruntled passenger, Margarit Blagoev, 35.

People are sometimes forced to take extreme measures.

In January, 50 frustrated passengers jumped off their regional train when it was brought to a stop mid-journey and stood on the adjacent tracks in the path of an oncoming express train to make it stop and allow their train to head off first.

- Chinese hopes -

The BDZ is saddled with debts of 240 million euros, hindering investment and renovation.

Obsolete infrastructure and thefts of bits of track and signalling systems make derailments, especially of cargo trains, quite common.

In December, a freight train transporting gas derailed and exploded, killing six people, injuring dozens more and devastating a small village in the north-east.

After failing for years to attract funds, help may be on the way however from China, which is seeking to invest heavily in infrastructure projects in eastern Europe and elsewhere.

The China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC) group has pledged to reimburse 130 million euros of BDZ's debts and invest 170 million euros in new trains, according to the Bulgarian transport ministry.

In addition, it has offered to invest 300 million euros in a new train assembly plant. The government is studying the proposals.

But not everyone in Bulgaria is pleased at the prospect.

"This offer will result in a mere restructuring of the debt and to new borrowing due to the BDZ's overindebtedness," said economist Georgy Angelov.

"The project will aggravate the risk of bankruptcy," he said.

FAST TRACK
First direct London-China train completes 12,000 km run
Beijing (AFP) April 29, 2017
Laden with whisky and baby milk, the first freight train linking China directly to the UK arrived in the eastern Chinese city of Yiwu Saturday after a 12,000-kilometre (7,500-mile) trip, becoming the world's second-longest rail route. The journey is the latest effort in China's drive to strengthen trade links with western Europe along a modern-day "Silk Road" route. "The train arrived a ... read more

Related Links
Great Train Journey's of the 21st Century

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

Comment using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

FAST TRACK
Engineers shine light on deadly landslide

24 dead as Kyrgyz landslide engulfs village homes

Soul-searching scientists struggle to get message across

Ukraine, Belarus leaders mark Chernobyl anniversary

FAST TRACK
Russian scientists create new system of concrete building structures

New organic lasers one step closer to reality

First luminescent molecular system with a lower critical solution temperature

Control of molecular motion by metal-plated 3-D printed plastic pieces

FAST TRACK
Ultracold atom waves may shed light on rogue ocean killers

Vinegar offers hope in Barrier Reef starfish battle

Humans threaten 'fossil' groundwater: study

In Mexico City, water a rare commodity

FAST TRACK
Warm winds: New insight into what weakens Antarctic ice shelves

New atlas provides highest-resolution imagery of the Polar Regions seafloor

Researchers solve the century-old mystery of Blood Falls

Climate change clues revealed by ice sheet collapse

FAST TRACK
China-bound illegal donkey hide haul seized in Pakistan

Rivers of blood orange: Juice floods Russian town

When Nature vents her wrath on grapes

A novel form of iron for fortification of foods

FAST TRACK
6.8-magnitude quake strikes the Philippines: USGS

New model could help predict major earthquakes

Hard rocks from Himalaya raise flood risk for millions

NASA Study Challenges Long-held Tsunami Formation Theory

FAST TRACK
Congolese plantation sprouts art centre to help the poor

US Defense Secretary Mattis visits strategic Djibouti

Top conservationist wounded in Kenya gun attack

Morocco, US stage joint military exercise

FAST TRACK
New technique makes it possible to extract the DNA from hominids preserved in sediments

Prehistoric human DNA is found in caves without bones

TNT Researchers Set Out to Advance Pace and Effectiveness of Cognitive Skills Training

New paper claims humans were in California 130,000 years ago




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News






The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement