Vladimir Vladimirov, Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Bulgarian State Railways (BDZ), in an interview with Radio FOCUS
FOCUS: We proceed with an interview focused on the current situation in the Bulgarian State Railways (BDZ). Earlier Rozen Zarkov, Chairperson of the federation of transport workers with the Podkrepa Labour Confederation, told Radio FOCUS that BDZ workers were getting ready for an effective strike, including suspension of trains’ movement. Now we are going to talk to Vladimir Vladimirov, Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the BDZ.
Mr Vladimirov, how will the protest rally, scheduled for May 30, affect the movement of trains? Vladimir Vladimirov: A protest rally, organised somewhere in downtown Sofia, will not affect the normal running of the trains in any way.
FOCUS: What about the preparation and organisation of an effective strike, are they going to affect the movement of trains? Vladimir Vladimirov: The preparation and the request cannot affect the movement of the trains either; neither would they hamper the work in BDZ. The state railways will continue working on this day just like on any other day.
FOCUS: What would you say about the actions of the trade unions? Vladimir Vladimirov: We live in a democratic country and everyone has the right to say whatever they think is right and do whatever they the law allows, even if it is about some complete nonsense and mere lies. Anyway, we live in a democratic society.
FOCUS: So you mean that the effective strike will not affect the work of the BDZ in any way? Vladimir Vladimirov: If there really is an effective strike, probably it would affect the work. However, speaking of such strike will not bear any effect on the work of the railways at all.
FOCUS: You said ‘speaking of strike’… in connection to this, how would you comment on the accusations of the chairperson of the railway workers’ trade union in BDZ, Petar Bunev, who said few days ago that since you started working with the state railways, the staff dismissals and company’s restructuring were much spoken about but in fact nothing really happened? Vladimir Vladimirov: I will not respond to statements by Mr Bunev and Mr Zarkov any more. What I want to tell Bulgarian citizens is that the reform in BDZ proceeds according to plan. The company’s loss has decreased in this period of time. As you see, the issue about BDZ’s debts is not as burning as before because we started paying them off, since the turn of the year.
With the sale of the BDZ – Freight Services, to some big extent, this problem around BDZ’s insolvency will be solved; or rather the risk for the creditors to come and take away all their assets will be eliminated.
At the same time I would like to offer those who like to speak and make comments so much to visit the depots and see the difference – now they are much cleaner and better organised. We are selling all the unneeded assets. I.e. everything we have planned is now bearing fruit.
In addition, the preparation for applying for EUR 350 million [under the Transport OP] is underway at the Ministry of Transport, the money is aimed for railways’ development as of 2014.
In other words, there is no delay, everything proceeds according to schedule. The results are obvious and they are more than successful. The measures we took during the previous strike had already started giving results. Thus, I have great trust in everything we are doing and working on in the BDZ.
FOCUS: The latest series of days-off is drawing near. Will the BDZ provide additional trains for the May 24 holiday? Vladimir Vladimirov: The BDZ will work at full capacity. All possible carriages will be launched in exploitation. We have a capacity to provide 12,500 seats. The problem around the jams is burning everywhere in the world, but here in Bulgaria it is burdened further by the lack of information system, which reports the tickets sales at different stations. During the previous holidays we managed to establish better connection among the officers, who used to get in touch using some antediluvian manner. We managed to cope with the problem and I hope that we will cope with it now, too.
FOCUS: In the end of our conversation I would like to talk about something in a more holiday mood. You provide transport for school leavers from social homes. Would you tell us something more about this initiative? Vladimir Vladimirov: The executive officer is engaged with this issue and I am sorry to tell you but I cannot give you any detailed information. What I may say is that we will continue the tradition and the BDZ will continue supporting such initiatives in the future. When it is possible – during holidays or sports events, we are ready to help, just like the case with the fans of PFC Lokomotiv – Plovdiv, so as to render our services more satisfactory for the citizens.