European Commissioner for Transport Adina Valean says Romania is in line to get funds from the European Commission to modernize its railway network which has suffered from decades of underinvestment.
Ms Valean met Romania’s Prime Minister Florin Citu in Brussels on Thursday where they discussed setting up a task force to help Romania absorb EU funds earmarked for transport, she said in a tweet.
She later told Digi24 that a group of experts would come to Bucharest to help the government carry out transport projects financed by the EU.
The funding will focus on the extensive but antiquated rail network, the eighth largest in the EU.
Many lines are in a state of disrepair due to a chronic lack of maintenance and investment. Most of the track-related assets are on their last legs, according to a European Parliament study.
Romania has about 11,000 kilometers of track and more than 1,000 stations, but there has been little investment in the railway since communism ended. The speed limit is 50 km/h on almost a third of the network and to 80km/h on another 40%, the study said.
Romania has also had problems absorbing EU funds.
Addressing the issue, Ms Valean, who is Romanian, said: “It’s an old, historical problem. Romania had access to European funds but for various reasons didn’t manage to access these funds, or they accessed them but didn’t use them,” she said.
Eight years ago, Poland extended its rail network by 1,600 kilometers with the help of EU funds, she said.
The Romanian prime minister, who was on his first visit to Brussels after becoming premier in December said he was “absolutely delighted by the proposal,” she said.
She said a working group was ready to start on the plan. “next week, if wanted.”
“We just want to intervene to make sure it takes on the right shape and we want to support the administrative capacity,” she told Digi24.
Romanian Transport Minister Catalin Drula will be asked to send a team of Romanian experts to work with the European Commission working group.
„There will be intermediary indicators, and as Romania shows that they have been finished, then the money will be made available. … the money will come as the intermediary goals are accomplished, ” the Commissioner said.