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Bulgaria is building the longest rail tunnel in the Balkans

Bulgaria is building the longest rail tunnel in the Balkans

The tunnel is part of one of the most important transport lines in the country

Last Thursday, Minister of Transport Georgi Todorov announced the beginning of construction on the longest two-pipe railway tunnel on the Balkan peninsula and in Bulgaria. The tunnel will be 6.8 kilometres long, costing around 300 million euros, and is part of the broader modernisation of the line from the capital of Sofia to the Black Sea, European Corridor No. 8.

A domestic and European priority

The modernisation of the Trakia railway line connecting Sofia with Burgas has been underway for the past 15 years and is set to be completed in 2030. This is one of the most important transport lines in the country as it runs from East to West and is part of the TEN-T EU transport network.

It connects Sofia with Istanbul and the port city of Burgas on the Black Sea, with the transportation lane starting as far away as Hamburg and Bremen. This makes it one of the most important routes between Central Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean.

The 20 kilometre stretch between Elin Pelin and Vakarel is one of the most difficult parts of the whole track and the tunnel will end up soaking a large part of the investment. At the same time, the new track will be able to support speeds of up to 160 kilometres per hour for passenger transport and 120 for freight, greatly reducing travel time and allowing for more traffic on the line.  

Minister Georgi Todorov was quoted in a press release, saying: "The technical and operational challenges for the builder are extremely great, as this lot is the most difficult of the whole section.”

The funds have been secured through the EU Operational Programme “Transport and transport infrastructure”.

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