Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov and his Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras signed on November 2 a declaration envisaging the setting up of a joint project company to implement the next phrase of developing the rail link between Thessaloniki and Rousse.
An agreement on the construction of the line, linking Greek Aegean ports with Bulgarian ports on the Danube river and Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast, was signed in Kavala in September 2017 by the transport ministers of Greece and Bulgaria, with Borissov and Tsipras in attendance.
The envisaged route, Thessaloniki-Kavala-Alexandroupolis-Bourgas-Varna-Rousse, is intended as an alternative and addition to the busy maritime sea lanes, and is seen by the two countries as of great strategic importance.
The November 2 2018 agreement, signed on the sidelines of a quadrilateral Bulgaria-Greece-Romania-Serbia summit in the Bulgarian Black Sea city of Varna, envisages that by mid-December, an intergovernmental framework agreement on railway development will also be prepared.
The project aims to develop a sustainable double-track axis, an electrified railway corridor with a modern European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) linking Bulgarian and Greek ports.
The construction of the railway line is part of the larger “Sea2Sea” project, a multimodal freight corridor connecting the Aegean and Black Sea.
The joint declaration also foresees the possibility of expanding the scope of the Memorandum of Understanding by increasing the intermodality of the project, including the further development of the Alexandroupolis-Bourgas road link.
The project reportedly has stated support from the European Commission, but as yet, no firm commencement or completion date.