Slovenia is crossed by two-pan European transport corridors -the so-called fifth corridor, leading from Barcelona through Italy and Slovenia to the Ukraine. And the tenth corridor from Northern Europe to Austria, Slovenia the Balkans and Turkey. And all of this means big business for Slovenia's railways after EU accession in 2004. But are the country's rail-links on track to cope with new business?
There are 1200 km of train tracks in Slovenia, 91 tunnels and 3299 bridges and viaducts 17 kilometres long. The agency of railway transport traffic headed by Anton Medved is responsible for the modernization and maintenance of the tracks:
" We want to achieve full transparency in the implementation of this public economic service. The additional funds provided by the government as part of the budget will go towards modernizing and guaranteeing the security of the railway networks. "
In the next two years, several sections of the railway line Ljubljana - Maribor and further towards Austria will be renovated. Modern Siemens and InterCity trains are already travelling on this route. After the modernization of the tracks, they will be able to achieve speeds of more than 200 km per hour. Part of the money will be used for the placing of new signalling and warning systems on the route Koper - Ljubljana, where traffic is rapidly increasing due to growing demand in the port of Koper. It is also planned to modernize the railway lines towards Hungary. On all those routes critical points, preventing higher speed, will be removed.
According to Mr. Medved, investing in the railway infrastructure is an expense but in the long run it will bring economic benefits:
" We hope that, one day, the modernized railway infrastructure will be a means of revenue for Slovenia. In the modernization process we want to follow the German model and that is why we will visit the German railway office, where we will get additional information on security systems and traffic management."
Within two or three years and with the help of loans from European banks the main road connections in Slovenia and a little later the railway connections should also be completed. In the future, Slovenia will not present an obstacle to the main European transport connections. One of the consequences of the E.U's enlargement will be the political and economic opening of countries in Eastern and Southern Europe and this again means that traffic through Slovenia will greatly increase.