Country Listing

Bulgaria Table of Contents




Figure 12. Transportation System, 1988


Overpass loop in Tsarigradsko Highway, Sofia
Courtesy Sofia Press Agency

The Bulgarian transportation system in 1987 was poorly developed compared with systems elsewhere in Europe. The rail system totaled 4,300 kilometers of track, of which 4,055 were standard gauge, 2,510 were electrified, and 917 were double track. In the 1980s, Bulgaria moved away from diesel engines toward electrical rail haulage. By 1988 some 83 percent of freight was moved by this method, compared with 60 percent in 1980. In 1987 the rails carried 83 million tons of freight and 110,000,000 passengers. In 1987 Bulgaria had 36,908 kilometers of roads, 33,535 of which were hard surfaced and 242 of which were classified as motorways (highways). In 1987 940 million passengers and 917 million tons of freight traveled by road. No major extension of the rail or the road system was built in the late 1980s.

In 1988 the freight system moved 103 billion ton kilometers (see Glossary) of freight, the majority (62.9 percent) by seagoing transport. Of the dozen Bulgarian ports on the Danube, the most important was Ruse. The remaining freight was moved by rail (17.1 percent), road (16.9 percent), inland waterway (2.1 percent), and pipeline (1 percent). In 1988 the national airline, Balkan Airline, totalled 32 billion passenger kilometers (see Glossary). Rail provided 25.5 percent of passenger transport, roads 62.2 percent, and air 12.2 percent.

The Bulgarian transportation system suffered financial neglect through most of the communist era. Investment in this sector was never extremely high, but in 1988 overall investment fell almost 25 percent. The largest drops were in sea transport (96 percent), river transport (63 percent), pipeline transport (62 percent), and rail transport (18 percent). The Bulgarian State Railroad typified the neglect and overuse of the transportation system. In 1990 authorities estimated that 27 million leva would be needed to restore the railroads to satisfactory operating condition. Meanwhile, rail revenues fell by 10 million leva during the first five months of 1990 as a result of lower industrial production and equipment breakdowns. At that point, about one-third of Bulgaria's passenger railcars and two-thirds of railroad equipment were completely depreciated, and 78 locomotives and 3,500 freight cars were idle due to breakdowns. Some 300 kilometers of track were classified as urgently needing repair.

Data as of June 1992