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Second Track Running as Planned, Official Says

Portorož, 25 October (STA) - The project to construct a second track of the Koper-Divača railway is not on hold but is running as planned, head of the Infrastructure Directorate Boštjan Rigler has told the STA, estimating the investment at EUR 1.3bn.

The project is expected to be ready to a point when invitations to tender can be published in the first half of 2013, the official said on the sidelines of an annual transport and road congress in Portorož on Wednesday.

At the moment preparatory work is being done for the project, such as the completion of the state zoning plan, acquisition of a building permit, environmental approvals and acquisition of plots, he said.

The Ministry of Infrastructure and Spatial Planning does not have the financial scheme as yet, but Rigler estimates the value of the project at EUR 1.3bn.

Due to low profitability, foreign investors are not interested in public-private partnership in railway infrastructure, which means financing will have to be sought within the European funding available under the EU's next multi-year budget or loans from the European Investment Bank or other financial institutions.

The list of railway infrastructure projects to be implemented in the EU's current financial perspective has been fixed, while the list of projects to compete under the next perspective is yet being drawn up, Rigler said.

The official also confirmed interest in investing in infrastructure at the Koper port among various investors, including financial funds and companies in the "sector".

Rigler listed extensions of the exiting two piers, construction of inland cargo terminals and the construction of the third pier in that order of priority.

"Serious interest" has been expressed in equity investments in the port operator Luka Koper, without any "very concrete discussions on the topic", Rigler said.

Since Luka Koper is not in a position to implement the necessary infrastructure investments in order to keep its competitive advantage over other north Adriatic ports, external capital will have to be activated to invest in port infrastructure.

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