Metrorex aims to get system expansion back on track

Newsroom 15/11/2010 | 11:02

State-owned subway company Metrorex has development plans worth more than EUR 2 billion for the next decade. Top of the priority list for investment are the Drumul Taberei subway line and the route that will link the two international airports in the north of Bucharest with the rest of the city. The company is also making short-term changes in its strategy to cover its RON 180 million of losses from poor contracts.

Dana Verdes

 

For a country that is part of the European Union community not to have a metro line that links the capital’s international airport to the city is nothing to be proud of. It is clear to those who want to see it that the current metro transportation system leaves a lot of room for future developments and improvements.

But squint really hard and you might see a little light at the end of the tunnel, as the state-owned company Metrorex has announced plans to more than double the number of lines, on the long-run. The company plans to build an M5 line between Ghencea and Pantelimon which would open in 2014, an M6 route between Rahova and Colentina and an M7 between 1 Mai and Otopeni.

 

The plans on paper

The M5 will run from the Ghencea/Drumul Taberei district via Eroilor and Universitate to Pantelimon, the terminus of the M1. It will have 19 stations, be 18-19 km in length and intersect with all existing lines except the M4. The M5 is currently in its planning stage, with construction expected to begin by 2010 and conclude by 2020. The route is expected to cost EUR 740 million. The urban area plan for Drumul Taberei line was recently approved by the general Council of Bucharest. The M6 will serve Bucharest’s two main international airports: Henri Coanda and Aurel Vlaicu. Henri Coanda (known popularly as Otopeni), the country’s largest airport, is currently served only by buses and CFR trains, while Aurel Vlaicu (Baneasa) is served by RATB buses and trams.

The metro extension will be convenient because both airports are located north of the city and hence a single metro extension could serve the pair, facilitating transfer between them. The line would also go via the Piata Presei Libere, Pajura and Baneasa areas, as well as some northern Bucharest suburbs.

Works were scheduled to start in 2007 and be completed in seven years. The cost of the line, which will have a length of 13.9 km and 14 stations, should be EUR 1 billion. The construction of the M7 is still under debate. It is supposed to run from Rahova to Colentina.

 

Drumul Taberei gets in on the action

One part of Bucharest currently in the metro wilderness is Drumul Taberei. Patience is required by the passenger who wants to travel between this neighborhood and downtown either by bus or car. But recently, Metrorex has taken tangible measures to start work on the Drumul Taberei subway network. The company received four final bids for the construction of the M5. According to company information, the winner will be selected in two months.

Among the runners and riders is the Turkish-Russian consortium Dogus-Gulermak-Moscovskii-Metrostroi-Salinia which has put a RON 1.076 billion offer and a 22-month timeline on the table. Another bid came from the association between Strabag (Austria) and Straco Grup (Romania), who are asking for RON 1.94 billion and say they will finish the line in 30 months. Meanwhile, Astaldi (Italy), FCC (Portugal), Delta ACM (Romania) and AB Construct have proposed RON 918.93 million and a 25-month deadline. Aktor of Greece has announced that the execution time would be 25 months and the sum RON 1.009 billion if Metrorex chooses it as the final contractor of the M5. The sums do not include VAT, according to Metrorex information.

“The final bids are under consideration and we expect to have signed contracts for this project at the beginning of the year. In less than five years I think we will be able to travel by metro to this area of Bucharest and I hope we can find manufacturers who work well,” said George Udriste, Metrorex GM. The company has announced that the project will be funded by the European Investment Bank (EIB).

For the construction of the M7, Metrorex wants to organize an auction for prefeasibility and feasibility studies. Building the Rahova-Colentina mainline is estimated to take about eight years. This subway line will be around 21 km long and will most likely take in 31 stations.

Metrorex forecasts that the technical and economic indicators needed to start works will be ready in 12 months. Company officials are even talking of an M8 line, a south half ring. Its route has not been fully planned yet, but it is predicted to run through Piata Sudului and end at Crangasi and Dristor stations.

It remains to be seen how and by when these plans will reach fruition, as Metrorex has run up losses of RON 180 million so far, RON 116 million for 2009 alone, and by the end of the year its debts could reach RON 188 million, mainly generated by a bad maintenance contract with Alstom Transportation.

The company’s action plan: raising fares (which has already been done), adapting schedules according to traffic demand and attracting new sources of advertising.

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