The national rail companies of Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia on Oct.1 will launch a joint cargo service to Turkey, aimed at winning back traffic lost to rival routes and transport modes during the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s.
The first Cargo 10 freight train, named for the road-and-rail corridor linking Germany, Austria and Turkey, will leave from the Slovenian capital Ljubljana at noon bound for Istanbul, Turkey.
The joint venture plans initially to reduce the current 60 hour transit time for goods from Slovenia and Croatia to Istanbul to 45 hours by speeding up border customs procedures.
The eventual transit target is between 25 and 30 hours.
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Before the Balkan wars severed transport links, the bulk of freight traffic between Turkey and Europe crossed the former Yugoslavia by truck and rail.
Following the outbreak of hostilities, traffic shifted to Corridor Four passing through Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria.
Now, less than 3 percent of freight between Turkey and Europe travels by rail with more than 20 percent going by road via Romania and Bulgaria; around 75 percent goes by ship.
The Cargo 10 venture has received a $135 million loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to improve the track and acquire locomotives.
The Bulgarian, Bosnian, Montenegrin and Macedonian state railways plan to join the new company.
-- Contact Bruce Barnard at email@example.com.