Transportation is among the most important sectors in any economy. Rail networks provide crucial transfer of people and resources, acting as an indicator for the development of a nation. All the same, it is unfortunate that Romania ranks virtually bottom as far as railway infrastructure when compared to neighbouring countries. As of 2019, reports indicate that only eight railway lines could support speeds of between 80 and 140 kilometers per hour, with an average of around 50 km/h.
A Dilapidated Infrastructure?
Romania’s railway infrastructure is not small. As a matter of fact, it is ranked top ten in Europe in terms of size, with slightly more than 20.000 km of rail. Most of these are old and experiencing decades of thorough neglect. Of course, modernizing an infrastructure this big can be a challenging and expensive task, but a very achievable one!
Including China, several countries have approached the Romanian government in the past with interests in building the high-speed railway. Millions of Euros have been allocated in similar projects such as modernizing cars, tracks, and engines, but how much would the layout and implementation of a high-speed railway through Romania cost? Before we look at the cost estimates, let’s look at the benefits.
The Benefits: Why Romania Needs a High-Speed Railway
Romania is a key country in the EU economy. A high-speed railway would ease freight transportation within and through the country, thus improving trade relations from the time and expenses saved. It will seek to comply with the European Commission's White Paper on Transport of 2020 through what is known as the Romanian 2011 Railway Platform.
Moreover, the country will enjoy an economic boost from the jobs created by this project, enhanced transport efficiency, and reduced congestion in other transport channels. The cost on the environment is also lower, as seen in the graphic below from this site , which just might be the biggest benefit. However you look at it, the high-speed railway has the least carbon emissions compared to other means of transport per passenger.
This is not to mention a possible increase in revenue from tourism, given the increased reliability of transportation and ease of exploring the country. Furthermore, the implementation will also support land use goals and stimulate regional development.
The Estimated Costs
Of course, the project will cost Romanians billions of Euros in taxes, rates, fees, and national revenue. It will take time, and the government will have to work with both internal and external providers. For the construction of the high-speed railway through Romania, many stakeholders will be involved. These will include the state government, regional governments, and foreign governments like Hungary, and Austria. It will also involve the railway authority, engineering companies, environmental regulators, passengers, infrastructure planners, land authorities, and so forth. As far as international experience is concerned, this is an investment where the capital costs may not be recovered unless an exceptionally brilliant plan is in place.
In conclusion, a high-speed railway through Romania will have numerous advantages. Like all good things, it will also have some cost benefits and drawbacks but the country will be stronger for it. With this in mind, many citizens and entrepreneurs are more than looking forward to its implementation.