Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space 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
AGU journal commentaries highlight importance of Earth and space science research

NASA spacesuits over budget, tight on timeline: audit

'Better you than me,' Trump tells record-breaking astronaut

Lunar, Martian Greenhouses Designed to Mimic Those on Earth

FAST TRACK
New Russian Medium-Class Carrier Rocket Could Compete With SpaceX's Falcon

RSC Energia, Boeing Hammer Out a Deal on Sea Launch Project

India seeks status as a major space power with more satellite launches

India to Launch Carrier Rocket With Higher Payload Capacity in May

FAST TRACK
How Old are Martian Gullies

Opportunity Nears 'Perseverance Valley'

Engineers investigate simple, no-bake recipe to make bricks on Mars

SwRI-led team discovers lull in Mars' giant impact history

FAST TRACK
China's cargo spacecraft completes in-orbit refueling

China courts international coalition set up to promote space cooperation

Commentary: Innovation drives China's space exploration

Macao marks 2nd China Space Day with astronaut sharing space experience

FAST TRACK
ViaSat-2 Satellite to Launch on June 1

ESA boosting its Argentine link with deep space

Arianespace, Intelsat and SKY Perfect JSAT sign a new Launch Services Agreement, for Horizons 3e

Airbus and Intelsat team up for more capacity

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
Research Center A Hub For Origins of Life Studies

ISS investigation aims to identify unknown microbes in space

'Iceball' Planet Discovered Through Microlensing

'On Verge of Most Profound Discovery Ever,' NASA Tells US Congress

FAST TRACK
ALMA investigates 'DeeDee,' a distant, dim member of our solar system

Nap Time for New Horizons

Hubble spots auroras on Uranus

Cold' Great Spot discovered on Jupiter




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