The Republic of Croatia gained independence and sovereignty in 1992, after the disintegration of the eastern economic and military association and the former Yugoslavia. During the war Croatia underwent severe destruction and great loss of human life. Traffic on many lines was interrupted and Croatian railways experienced considerable damage followed by an enormous income reduction. From 1991 to 1995 the traffic on the Croatian lines decreased to 25-30% of its pre-war volume (from 3.4 billion PKM to 0.95 billion PKM, and from 6.5 billion NTKM to 1.6 billion NTKM).
Independence brought in a new traffic development strategy. Traffic improvement from the Adriatic to the hinterland has been suggested. The line from the Botovo border station via Zagreb to Rijeka (as a part of the traffic line from Budapest to Rijeka) has been given priority. The side track of this line towards Middle Dalmatia (Split, Sibenik and Zadar) has also gained a very important role. The same importance has been given to the other line connecting Budapest with Ploce harbour. Important sections on this route are Beli Manastir-Osijek-Sl. Samac and Metkovic-Ploce. Apart from the lines mentioned great importance has been attached to the reconstruction of the longitudinal railway line from Zagreb to Tovarnik and further to the east.
The Croatian railway network comprises 2.974km of lines (including 248km of double track lines), of which 739km of single track and 244km of double track has been electrified. Rolling stock comprises 438 locomotives (144 electric and 294 diesel), 66 diesel and 30 electric railcars, 499 coaches and 8.292 freight wagons. For the past few years purchases have been negligible and old rolling stock has been crying out for renewal. In order to improve the present situation Croatian railways have adopted a new purchasing strategy (including tilting trains).
Some 450km of lines are still out of use (the lines in the eastern part of the country and the Sisak-Sunja-Novska, Sunja-Volinja and Martin-Brod-Knin). The reopening of the lines in Eastern Slavonia is foreseen in near future and after this the whole railway network will be worked on. It is necessary to emphasise that all the damage has not yet been estimated (particularly on sections that haven't been de-mined or sections that are not accessible for Croatian authorities). The total estimated damage so far amounts to 1.507.546,00 kn (DM215.4 million).
Several steps are foreseen in the further development of Croatian railways. The reconstruction and updating of destroyed railway infrastructure is a priority. This entails the application of modern technical solutions and the purchase of sophisticated technology whenever the reconstruction of existing lines and devices is uneconomical (through out-of-date equipment and technical solutions). The rehabilitation encompasses the following lines damaged in the war: Ostarije-Knin-Drnis, Knin-Bibinje, Sisak-Sunja-Novska, Novska-Okucani-Gradiska, Sunja-Volinja, Vinkovci-Tovarnik, Beli Manastir-Osijek, Osijek-Vinkovci, Osijek-Erdut-Dalj, Vmkovci-Vukovar-Erdut and Vinkovci-Drenovci (Brcko), altogether 650km of lines.
The second step includes the renewal of the existing infrastructure and rolling stock in order to achieve better utilisation (speed increase to 120-160km/h and improvement in capacity). That means the overhaul of existing lines, construction of a second track on the most used sections and the purchase of modern traction and haulage vehicles. The introduction of tilting trains on lines from Zagreb to Rijeka and Zagreb to Split (Sibenik, Zadar) and the line to Ploce has been considered, as well as on the railway lines Trieste-Ljubljana-Zagreb-Budapest, Munchen-Ljubljana-Zagreb-Tovarnik transit to the east and Vienna-Maribor-Zagreb-Tovarnik transit to the east.
The third step includes the construction of new sections on the most unfavourable sections of existing lines and planning and construction of new lines. The high-speed railway line corridors (200-300km/h) have been considered. The main corridors would be: Budapest-Rijeka-Trieste, Vienna-Zagreb-Rijeka (Split), Munchen-Zagreb-Tovarnik-Greece (Turkey, Bulgaria) and a new corridor along the Adriatic coast - Trieste-Rijeka-Split-Dubrovnik-Greece (Albania, Turkey).
Croatian railways face the modernisation of our entire network. We believe that other European countries are interested in the most favourable traffic connections. Croatia's geopolitical position confirms this. For the last few years international traffic detoured Croatia because of the war and its consequences. In order to re-establish international traffic Croatian railways have to rehabilitate the entire railway network and make it as attractive and transport-worthy as possible. Proper evaluation of Croatia's favourable traffic and geographic position will be possible only if a modern infrastructure is constructed and updated, and new rolling stock is introduced. To achieve this Croatian railways need financial support from Europe and developed countries all over the world.
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