Bulgarian state railways BDZ will put 30 new sleeping cars into service by the end of 2012.
The sleeping cars have been produced by Turkish company Tuvasash following the signing of a 63 million leva (about 36.5 million euro) contract in December 2010.
This is the first time since 1982 that the state railway company has bought new sleeping cars.
Delivery of the rolling stock is to be completed by the end of July and tests of the sleeping cars, which can travel up to 160 km/h will be held on the Plovdiv– Dimitrovgrad stretch of railway. This section, revamped for high-speed travel, is to be ready for use soon.
According to Georgi Ivanov, head of BDZ’s passenger transport section, it is expected that the tests will be completed by the end of August.
Five of the sleeping cars will have special facilities for people with disabilities.
Each coach has 10 compartments, each with three bunks. The rolling stock is equipped with shower, toilet and a room offering hot and cold drinks. In each car there is a fire-alarm and information system. Air conditioning in the sleeping cars allows individual temperature control in each compartment. Each compartment has a built-in sink with hot and cold running water.
The sleeping cars will be used on long-distance trains, from Sofia to Varna, Sofia to Bourgas, Sofia to Rousse and Sofia to Svilengrad.
Prices for travelling on the new sleeping cars would be 10 leva higher than the usual fare for sleeping cars.
The first 12 new sleeping cars were presented to Transport Minister Ivailo Moskovski at a ceremony in Turkey on June 20.
Moskovski said that the delivery of the new cars marked the start of the phased renovation of rolling stock used by BDZ. He said that a “strategic investment” had been made which was long overdue and the acquisition was being made in spite of the difficult economic situation and cost-cutting measures.
BDZ is deeply financially troubled and has been implementing cost reduction measures including staff cuts.
He said that it was important to be able to offer sleeping cars because of public demand, and it was vital for the railways to be able to attract more customers.
In recent years, there has been concern about the safety of Bulgarian trains after a number of incidents of fires aboard rolling stock or engines. The most serious incident was the February 2008 fire on the Sofia – Kardam train, which resulted in nine deaths. In 2011, there was a series of fires on Bulgarian trains, in June, July and August.