Long way to the airport. Bucharest to host UEFA Euro 2020 matches with no reliable connection to its main airport

Sorin Melenciuc 12/02/2019 | 16:38

The Capital city of Romania prepares to host four matches at UEFA European Football Championship 2020 with no reliable connection to its main airport due to a mix of bureaucratic incompetence, chaos in setting priorities and conflicting interests.

This week, the state-owned rail company CFR, reputed for its poorly maintained infrastructure and huge delays, has launched a tender to build a rail connection between Bucharest’s main train station – Gara de Nord – and the main airport of the country – Otopeni, or Henri Coanda International Airport.

The project is evaluated at RON 420 million (EUR 88 million) and should allow, once completed, to passengers to travel in a decent mean of transport and in a reasonable period of time from the airport to the central part of Bucharest – or in the opposite direction – at lower price.

At this moment, passengers have only the option of traveling by bus or by car – and the average cost to travel by taxi is around EUR 10 from the airport to the center of Bucharest.

But many experts say that the tender is launched too late in order to have the project completed by the start of Euro 2020, as it is almost impossible to complete the tender and the works needed by June 2020.

Others say the project is useless as it hasn’t included a decent train terminal inside the airport and there is already a competing project: a subway line between Bucharest and the airport funded from EU money.

But almost anyone in Bucharest agrees that the project, scheduled to be completed in 14 months, will be completed longtime after the final whistle of the Euro 2020.

Beyond bureaucratic incompetence and chaos in setting priorities, the project has attracted powerful opponents. Ion Tiriac, considered the richest man in Romania, is the latest adversary of this controversial infrastructure project.

He recently said that the project will affect some of his investments in the Otopeni area and warned that he will stop investing in two projects – a rink and a university – if the railway will be built by the Ministry of Transports.

The Ion Tiriac Foundation, a non-profit organization developed by Tiriac, says that the project is useless as for the same purpose there is already another major project – a subway line financed through EU funds.

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