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Second Rail to Koper Key Transport Investment, Experts Say

Ljubljana, 10 December (STA) - The development of transport infrastructure is of great importance for the development of Slovenia and its economy, a round table debate hosted by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) and port operator Luka Koper heard on Tuesday. Experts believe the key investment in this field will be a second rail between Koper and inland hub Divača.

Dušan Mes, CEO of rail operator Slovenske železnice, said that the company could make an estimated EUR 100m more in revenues and EUR 20m more in profit if Slovenia's rail infrastructure was developed similarly to that in Austria and Germany.

If Luka Koper and Slovenske železnice continue to increase reshipment and transport capacities at this pace, the needs will exceed the capacities enabled by the existing infrastructure in 2017, according to Mes.

Luka Koper CEO Gašpar Gašpar Mišič expects that Slovenia's only port will reship 23 million tonnes of cargo in 2020, five million tonnes more than now.

Gašpar Mišič, who served as an MP for the ruling Positive Slovenia (PS) and was the prime minister's aide before becoming Luka Koper CEO earlier this year, also believes that politicians should no longer toy with important infrastructure projects like the second Koper-Divača rail.

"The second rail is like oxygen for Luka Koper. The company can no longer develop without oxygen," Gašpar Mišič said of the rail track that has been planned for some 20 years but whose construction has never been launched.

It seems, however, that a new attempt will be made to start constructing the rail track, as Infrastructure and Spatial Planning Minister Samo Omerzel said in mid October that the rail would be built.

The minister believes the track could be built for EUR 700m, which is half the price initially estimated.

Moreover, Infrastructure ans Spatial Planning Ministry State Secretary Matjaž Vrčko pointed out at the round table debate that Slovenia must start promoting other means of transportation than roads.

He said traffic on Slovenia's motorways had exceeded the estimates and that the current figures had reached the level expected for 2017 and 2018.

Aleš Groznik of Ljubljana's Economics Faculty moreover said that Slovenia should invest EUR 400m annually in traffic infrastructure until 2030. He believes this was an acceptable figure, as EU funds could also be used.

Vrčko also said that Slovenia probably could invest the EUR 400m in traffic infrastructure a year, but pointed out that EU funds were limited.

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