• Photo: F. Stier

20.02.2024 By: Frank Stier

Artikel Nummer: 48444

Reborn at the Black Sea

Bulgarian capital Sofia to set itself apart as a pan-regional dry port. Several ongoing key projects in Bulgaria are intertwined. The port of Burgas first doubled the capacity of its terminals through its ‘Rebirth 28’ project, and then expanded its logistical potential inland by opening a dry port near Sofia. The improved railfreight connections have prompted Maersk, amongst others, to bet on this particular horse and shift freight to the railways in Bulgaria and Romania.

Creating a network of intermodal logistics centres in Bulgaria, to shift freight from the roads to the railways, was a declared priority of successive national governments there for many years.

These ambitions have been driven largely by private enterprise so far, however. The state transport administration has only built one intermodal logistics terminal so far, in Plovdiv. It then handed the facility over to the Bulgarian transport and forwarding company Pimk, to run it as a concession. State finance for a multimodal logistics centre close by the Danube bridge in Ruse is currently being questioned again.

Private investors have built two dry ports in the capital Sofia, offering blocktrain connections to Greece’s Aegean Sea and Bulgaria’s Black Sea regions.

Just over three years ago the Greek port of Thessaloniki (ThPA) launched a blocktrain to Sofia’s industrial district of Iliantsi that runs three times a week. It mostly transports Chinese goods to Central and Eastern Europe.

In November 2023 the private port operator BMF Port Burgas started a blocktrain running between Burgas on the Black Sea and a dry port in the Boshurishte industrial park, near Sofia.

The project was jointly initiated by Maersk and the Bulgarian railway company Pimk Rail. The freight train mainly transports furniture for the Danish retail chain Jysk to a warehouse located in the Boshurishte industrial park.

In February BMF Port Burgas opened a 27,000 m2 Sofia dry port with an annual capacity to handle 60,000 teu in the industrial park. BMF hopes the expansion inland will generate new business potential. The quays of its port terminals ‘Burgas East II’ and ‘Burgas West’ are used for bulk, liquid and general cargo, as well as grain and containers.

Blocktrains to inland ports

The port operator is currently implementing its ‘Rebirth 28’ expansion project, which requires overall investments amounting to approximately EUR 50 million. Upon completion in March 2025, 260 m containerships with a draught of 14.5 m will be handled there.

The hub’s handling capacity will then increase from 200,000 to 350,000 teu. The rehabilitation of a railway line between the port and Vladimir Pavlov station, completed in December 2023, also connects freight trains to the Eastern Mediterranean.

At the inauguration of the new blocktrain line Dragos Dimitrescu, Maersk’s country manager for Romania and Bulgaria, described it as the “best green solution in the market.” The carrier can now shift a lot of goods from trucks to the railways there. He added, however, that the Bulgarian government has to understand “that the future of transport doesn’t lie in clogging the roads with trucks, but in using the more efficient and less polluting railways more.”


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