March 30, 2017 / 1:11 PM / 6 months ago

Slovenia to invest 1 bln euros in new railway line

LJUBLJANA, March 30 (Reuters) - Slovenia plans to invest about 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) on a new railway line between its sole port, Luka Koper, and the city of Divaca, which will connect with the line that runs to the capital Ljubljana.

The government expects to cover about a quarter of the cost with European Union funds, while about 350 million euros will be raised via new debt, Infrastructure Minister Peter Gaspersic told a news conference on Thursday.

Slovenia hopes some of the investment will also be covered by countries that use the port for imports and exports. These include Hungary, Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland.

So far, only Hungary had said it is ready to invest in the project, the government said, without giving details.

“The project will benefit not only the Slovenian economy, but also economies of other countries (Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia) which are connected to the port of Koper and account for 70 percent of its cargo traffic,” the government said in a statement.

It added the project would reduce the length of travel by about 17 kilometers and the time of travel by about half an hour, while also enabling trains to run faster. About 75 percent of the 27-kilometre track will run underground.

It will be one of the biggest state investments in the coming years. It is not yet clear when it could be completed.

The International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday public and private investments were likely to boost Slovenia’s GDP this year and the next, forecasting the economy would expand by 3 percent in 2017 and 2.3 percent in 2018.

$1 = 0.9324 euros Reporting by Marja Novak; Editing by Mark Potter

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