The first 11 of Bulgarian state railways, BDZ, new sleeping cars went into service on April 30, ahead of the six-day weekend declared to link Labour Day on May 1 and St George’s Day and Easter Monday on May 6.
Two of the sleeping cars were to be on the train leaving Sofia for the Black Sea city of Varna at 10.25pm and two others on the night express leaving Sofia for Bourgas on the Black Sea at 10.40pm.
Authorisation to use the new sleeping cars, part of a set of 30 bought from a Turkish company, was given by the Railway Administration Executive Agency on April 29.
The sleeping cars spent some months undergoing testing by a private firm to assess whether they met European Union standards.
The purchase of the 30 sleeping cars was the first time that BDZ bought new sleeping cars in 30 years.
The sleeping cars were ordered in late 2010 in a deal said at the time to be worth 63 million leva (about 31.5 million euro).
Each carriage has 10 compartments with three beds. The rolling stock is equipped with showers, toilets, and individual air conditioning in each compartment. Five of the carriages are adapted to use by passengers with physical disabilities. Each compartment has a table with a basin with hot and cold running water.
A single ticket from Sofia to Varna costs 23.60 leva second-class and 29.50 leva first-class. From Sofia to Bourgas, the one-way fare is 20.40 leva second-class and 25.50 leva first-class.
A Sofia-Varna-Sofia ticket costs 35.20 leva second-class and 44 leva first-class. A Sofia-Bourgas-Sofia return ticket is 30.30 leva second-class and 37.80 first-class.
The fee for a bunk on the sleeping cars is 10 leva a person in a second-class compartment with three passengers, 12 leva in a first-class compartment with two passengers and 18 leva in “business class”.
Testing of the remaining sleeping cars not yet in use is continuing.
Earlier, BDZ announced that it was providing a number of extra trains and carriages to cope with the customary sharply increased demand because of Easter holidays.