News 26 Mar 13

French Lay Out Options for New Metro

Egis Rail of France has offered Belgrade a number of models for the new metro network as part of its feasibility study.

BIRN
Belgrade

If Belgrade adopts one of the proposals of Egis Rail, the city’s metro will run both under and over ground. The city might also get a new railway bridge across the Sava.

The company has proposed several options for metro routes. For the first route, which is expected to run from Zvedara to Zemun and be ready by 2018, the French have proposed that trains run underground in the old part of the city and above ground in New Belgrade.

One option is for trains to drive through a corridor high above ground that would be built on pillars, while stations would be on platforms accessed via stairs and lifts.

Within the coming months, the authorities will review the proposals and costs and decide what option to implement.

The network will have 55 stations along three lines, covering 36 kilometres and serving 660,000 people a day.

Trains will travel at 28.2 kilometres per hour, typically taking 26 minutes from one end of the line to the other.

Under the terms of a deal signed between France and Serbia in November 2011, France donated €3 million for the feasibility study and guaranteed a loan of €500 million for the project.

Egis Rail was assigned to carry out the study, while a French conglomerate, Alstom, will receive priority in negotiations for the purchase of trains.

Alstom, a 70-year-old firm, has been involved in the construction of dozens of underground railways.

The company has been the focus of several corruption investigations, however.

The New York Times reported that three executives from Alstom’s UK office were arrested in March 2010 over allegations of bribery in bidding for contracts around the world.

A Belgrade official said the deal with France only gave Alstom priority in talks to supply equipment, and the city would not be obliged to use the company. If it did not strike an agreement with Alstom, the city would open a tender for the network.

The total cost of the new metro and all equipment is priced at about €1 billion.

Belgrade’s growing population of about two million currently relies on half-a-million registered vehicles and a network of trams, buses and trolley buses.

But the roads in the city are designed for relatively light traffic. Only six bridges cross the two main rivers, the Danube and the Sava, creating gridlock during rush hours.

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