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Second Rail from Koper Port Top Priority in Transport

Ljubljana, 26 June (STA) - Slovenia will have to speed up the construction of an additional rail link between Divača and Koper, Infrastructure and Spatial Planning Minister Zvonko Černač said as he presented the country's priority investments in transport and energy at an event hosted by societies Mreža idej and Akademsko društvo Pravnik.

The link must be complete by 2018, three years earlier than planned, in order to get money from EU funds and to meet the increasing needs of Slovenia's sole sea port, Luka Koper, the minister said. The link is estimated to cost EUR 1.3bn.

"The time line for the construction of the second rail is a problem. The potential of Luka Koper is so great that it will exceed the existing capacities by 2018," the minister said.

The new plans for the second rail must be unveiled by autumn, Černač underlined, adding that the existing plans were not doable.

Moreover, if Slovenia fails to upgrade its rail system, transport currents will bypass the country in the future, the minister said, adding that the country had lost a lot of time in the past, which would be hard to make up for.

Černač was very critical of the investment projects the government inherited from the previous cabinet. In the ongoing financial perspective of the EU the country managed to draw less than 10% of funds it is entitled to in rail infrastructure, he noted.

Touching on development projects in energy, the minister regretted that the ongoing construction of a new generator at TEŠ coal-fired power plant was developing "inappropriately". He called upon those in charge of the project to be more rational and responsible.

He believes that Slovenia's water potential will allow for new possibilities in energy production. At the centre of this are plans for new hydro-power plants on the river of Sava. He believes the projects will be included in zoning plans by 2015 or 2016.

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