Split Suburban Railway
|Split Suburban Railway|
The railway uses Swedish-made Y1 units
December 10, 2006
|Rolling stock||HŽ 7122 series|
|Line length||17.8 km|
|Number of tracks||1 (2)|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in)|
|Electrification||To be electrified in the future|
The Split Suburban Railway (Croatian: Splitska gradska željeznica) is a suburban railway network in Split, Croatia. The railway was opened on refurbished existing tracks on December 10, 2006. It consists of one line serving seven stations, running from Split centr to Kaštel Stari, but the line is being revamped with new stations and the reconstruction of existing ones. The line passes through two tunnels within the city centre of Split, and it is planned that within these tunnels metro-like stations will be opened to serve the city centre. The line is 17.8 kilometres (11.1 mi) long and an average train ride lasts for 25 minutes. A link with Trogir and Split Airport is planned.
Most of the railway lines were completed in October 1877, as Split was connected to Siverić via Perković. When Split hosted the 1979 Mediterranean Games, an extensive suburban railway system was planned and many stations were built. The existing tracks from the suburbs to the main terminus train station in the harbor were laid underground. As a double-track electrified railway was planned, an underground station Split-H.B.Z. (with a 1,893 m tunnel) was built. In 1991, Croatian war of independence broke out. The occupied territory severed the railway links between Split (and Dalmatia) and the rest of Croatia. Between February 1993 and October 1994, Croatian Railways, facing many idle trains and railway workers in Dalmatia, organized a short-lived and ill-fated Split suburban railway from Split to Kaštela. Local authorities did not support the project while the long-distance rolling stock proved to be unsuitable for suburban traffic. After the war's end in 1995 this project was abandoned.
In December 2006, Croatian Railways reopened the line for suburban traffic, announcing plans to electrify the line and lay a second set of tracks, which still has not happened. Since 2007, CR has intended to refurbish and re-equip the Split railway tunnel and open the underground station Split-H.B.Z., but in late 2015 the City of Split definitely withdrew from the project citing the lack of funds as the main reason.
The major issues plaguing the line include the distance of the railway tracks (built for long-distance traffic towards Knin and Zagreb) from the population centers along Bay of Kaštela. Despite the fact that around 35% of Split, 40% of Solin, and 50% of Kastela population lives along the suburban railway, due to the urban sprawl and the lack of spatial planning the surrounding area mostly consists of single-family detached homes with low urban density and poor access to public transport. Together with the lack of railway commuting tradition among the population, this maintains the reliance on personal vehicles for transport. In 2007, the suburban railway served just 57,078 passengers and collected 441,690 HRK in fares. Town of Kaštela 2016-20 traffic strategy called for a better integration of the suburban railway with the public transport, citing poor state of railway infrastructure, its outdatedness, and low quality and safety of suburban rail traffic.
Due to the frequent traffic bottlenecks, jams, and the rapid increase in passenger traffic at the nearby Split Airport (doubling between 2013 and 2017 to 3 million passengers, increasing further at a 23% annual rate), the Split Suburban railway is planned to be extended for roughly 12–14 km further, beyond Kastel Stari to Split Airport and running to Trogir as an endstation. Some older studies from 2000 and 2003 also envisaged extending the line eastward, but this has since been dropped.
In 2006 Marijan Klaric, deputy CEO of Croatian Railways, announced the plans to overhaul the Split suburban railway, electrify the lines, add another set of tracks and extend the line to Trogir, but nothing happened. Croatian Railways invited the town of Split to work together on defining the new Trogir-Airport-Split railway in 2014. In 2017, a conceptual design study for the line was published. It probed into two different paths (north and south from D8 road), estimating that two viaducts and one tunnel should be built for the line. Kaštel Kambelovac, Split Airport and Trogir train stations would also be built from scratch. Split-Trogir line would have an annual capacity of 5.6 million passengers. The calculations estimated the cost at 500 million kuna.
In August 2017, commemorating the anniversary of the re-establishment of the railway traffic between Split and the continental Croatia after the war in 1995, Split mayor Krstulović Opara announced the construction of the railway to Split Airport as "everyone's dream", vowing "not to stop" until the line is completed. In October 2017, after expressing the importance of this project, Split mayor met with local counterparts in Kaštela to discuss the development. Kaštela mayor Denis Ivanović stated that this line would be the most profitable railway line in Croatia. After a series of traffic jams on the route between Kastela and Split in March 2018, mayor Krstulović Opara cited them as a further proof that the road traffic is overwhelmed and that a new railway was necessary. Mayor's opposition, Split social democrats, also supported the new railway. On April 17, 2018, Split mayor met with mayors of Kaštela, Solin and Trogir, Croatian Railways president, as well as Split Airport director, Port authority, and the national Ministry of traffic and infrastructure representatives to discuss the project. The railway was deemed especially important in order to link the Split Airport to the Port of Split (next to the current Split main station is) due to the many of the 3 million airport passengers travelling to the Dalmatian islands. The integration and intermodality of the public transport of the Split region with a population of 300.000 was another important goal. Split-Kopilica was mentioned as an intermodal transport hub in order to alleviate the burden on the current Central Train Station in Split harbor, something advocated as early as 1939. Croatian Railways strongly supported the project, while the Ministry of transport will finance the feasibility study. Kaštela and Trogir mayors stated that the general urban plan changes with respect to the new rail line have been ongoing in their jurisdictions. Split Airport and Port of Split directors expressed their intention to co-finance the project.
Under the auspices of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce and its vicepresident Mirjana Čagalj, on April 30, 2018 a memorandum establishing the multiyear partnership on Split area rail passenger traffic development was signed between the CR, local authorities, national ministry, and other stakeholders in the project. Two possible routes for the new line to Trogir were mentioned. The first one would branch off from the existing tracks from Kastel Stari to Divulje and further to Trogir. This would mean 7 km of new tracks of which 3.4 km would be underground. The section between Kaštel Stari and Divulje would cost €70 million, while the section between Divulje and Trogir would cost between €30 and 80 million. The second route would branch off from Kaštel Sućurac, requiring 12.6 km of tracks (11.6 km underground). The latter would cost €200 million just to reach Divulje. The case and development study planning would take 3-5 years, while the construction of the railway itself another 3-6 years. 8 train compositions would be bought for this line; Končar representatives presented the diesel multiple unit HZP 7-023 series to the stakeholders. Rail-workers' trade union representatives supported investing in the Split suburban rail network as a way to improve Croatian Railways' sustainability, profits, and mission fulfillment.
The Government of Croatia officially supported the project in a cabinet meeting held in Split on May 4, 2018. Croatian Railways-Infrastructure was appointed as a key stakeholder, Ministry of traffic as a coordinator among the stakeholders and the local authorities, while the total cost was estimated at €1.1 bn. However, the Croatian Government spoke solely of connecting the Split Airport with the Port of Split and building Split-Kopilica as an intermodal hub. The plans for extending the line to Trogir were dropped. This was reaffirmed on July 17, 2018 by the minister of transport Oleg Butković at the ceremonial opening of Čiovo bridge, stating that connecting Split Airport with the Port of Split by rail is the most important railway project in Croatia.
A new study on the proposed Split-Kastela-Airport-Trogir railway was published in the railway engineering journal in June, 2018. It probed into the feasibility of two options: either linking the Split airport/Trogir with the existing M604 railway from Kaštel Stari (8km track) on far west end of the urban area or from Kaštel Sućurac, very close to Split proper (12.6k. The latter would effectively create a proper suburban rail line connecting the entire Kastela area with Split, airport, and Trogir. The former would cost around 100-150 million euros, while the latter would cost 230-280 million due to the longer track and the route complexity (a tunnel underneath the D-8 road).
At a July 19th on-site meeting with the Split area mayors and the state secretary for transport, the CEO of Croatian Railwyays-Passenger Transport declared the opening of the new stations on the existing track (Split-H.B.Z., Split-Dujmovača, and Solin-Širine) to be the first step to follow. CR will draft the studies and necessary documents for the new line and new stations (Sv. Kajo, Kaštel Lukšić, Rudine, and Split Airport) in parallel. The feasibility study will be financed by the EU competitiveness and cohesion fund. The path of the new extended track and the point where it will branch off from the existing Split-Knin-Zagreb railway is yet to be defined. Split mayor emphasized the need to refurbish the railway infrastructure not only for the suburban traffic, but also for the more efficient railway link between Central Europe and Zagreb, and Split and Dalmatia.
On September 30, Split county prefect commented that the renovation and reconstruction of the existing M604 line section Split-Kastel Stari (Rudine) would commence already in 2019, with the construction of the link between the M604 and Split Airport / Trogir starting in 2021. This would imply the preference for the simpler solution instead of the new line running through/underneath Kastela proper.
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