Original publication: June 2015
Authors:  Marc Thomas, Research Administrator with the assistance of Caroline Rooks (trainee) and Roberto Calise (trainee)
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Romania's General Transport Master Plan and Rail System

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Romania’s General Transport Master Plan is currently under preparation. This note summarizes its content with regard to rail transport. It also briefly describes the Romanian rail system and sheds light on the advanced state of disrepair of the infrastructure and the subsequent traffic volume collapse.

Member States receiving EU structural and cohesion funds for transport infrastructure must work out a ‘General Transport Master Plan’ (GTMP), i.e. a high level roadmap setting the major objectives of their national transport system in the long term (the current planning horizon is the year 2030). GTMPs are a prerequisite for EU funding.

Master Plans are drawn up according to a methodology and guidelines developed by the European Commission. This is to facilitate the assessment of the national objectives which must comply with those defined at EU level, notably with regard to economic sustainability and the development of the trans-European transport network. Master Plans, however, are not drafted by the European Commission: the strategic objectives that they set out are those of the governments concerned.

In the case of Romania, these objectives were adopted in February 2015[1] following preliminary work which began in 2012. The GTMP and the related studies/analysis are being developed by the US consultancy AECOM[2]. [It is important to note that Romania’s GTMP is still a draft document, full of errors and inconsistencies and is in the process of being revised. It is, however, the most advanced of all the Master Plans currently being prepared.]

As regards rail infrastructure, Romania’s GTMP takes stock of the (unquestionable) advanced state of disrepair and concludes that maintaining the whole existing rail network to EU standards would be unaffordable – and unnecessary on portions of the network which accommodate very low volumes of traffic. The Master Plan therefore suggests channelling the available resources towards the main lines. ‘As for secondary routes which serve a local function they could be retained and managed by a local authority albeit with no state funding, or closed’[3]. It should be noted that:

– The GTMP does not map the secondary network to be closed. It settles on the basic principle of a network 40% shorter than the existing one and accounting for 90% of the demand. The lines to be closed would be identified at a later stage through in-depth cost-benefit analysis.

What the Master Plan proposes is not new. A similar reduction in length was suggested in the 1990’s by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the World Bank[4] as part of the pre-accession rehabilitation program. In 2004 the Romanian government identified 30% of the network representing 2% of freight traffic and 8 % of passenger traffic to be operated under lease agreements or closed. This was not put into effect.

[1] The Master Plan is still to be adopted by the Romanian Parliament before submission to the European Commission. It is to be reviewed every five years. See: http://gov.ro/en/government/cabinetmeeting/general-transport-master-plan-approved-by-the-government
[2] http://www.aecom.com/
[3] Draft Romanian General Transport Master Plan (Version of May 2015).
[4] The World Bank, Report n° 32668: Romania, railway rehabilitation project, Point 1.7, 2005. ECORYS, Study on strategic evaluation on transport investment priorities under structural and cohesion funds for the programming period 2007-2013, Country Report Romania, p.15, 2006.

Link to the full study: http://bit.ly/540-376

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