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Slovakia: Bratislava Hopes To Begin Metro Construction Next Year

Bratislava, 27 June 1987 (RFE/RL) - Bratislava's City Council met yesterday to consider approving setting up a company to oversee construction of the city's metro.

Milan Vajda, a spokesman for the city, tells RFE/RL the new company, Metro Bratislava, will be responsible for preparing a project to begin construction in 1998 of the metro. According to Vajda, Bratislava is one of two capital cities in Europe that does not have a metro. He says the other is Tirana.

But, while there has been much discussion in recent years about a metro, the project was abandoned in 1992. Now, the idea of a metro has resurfaced again due to prodding by France, and need for a metro.

The French Matra Transport will supply the technology for the metro, under a 1991 decision made by the Bratislava city council.

One of the main hurdles will be to secure the estimated $1.5 billion to finance the project. In addition, guarantees from Slovakia's government will be needed.

"We need central government guarantees and approval," Vajda said. "No city would build a metro on its own," he said.

But given Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's ongoing feud with Bratislava city officials over allocation of budget funds to the capital, and his reported distaste for the city itself - that may be tough to secure.

"We need the metro," Vajda said. Bratislava's residents travel to work and to the city-center primarily using public transport, including trams, buses and trolley buses. About 20 percent travel by car. "This is a project for the 21st century. It's not just (about whether) Meciar does not like Bratislava," the spokesman asserted.

The first ten-kilometer line of the metro would run from the residential area of Petrzalka, just across the Danube river from the Old Town, to the Bratislava city-center.

But, unlike Prague, where the metro runs under the Vltava River, in Bratislava officials will build a bridge over the Danube to reduce construction costs. In Bratislava's city-center, the metro will be forced underground.

If construction begins in May of 1998, as planned, that ten-kilometer metro line would be open by the year 2003, Vajda said.

Further construction of a total of 33 kilometers of metro lines would last until year 2020.

But Vajda said that all depends on whether construction permits and financing are secured. It will cost $45 million to build each kilometer of the metro using the French technology. As to the actual construction, Vajda said most likely it will be done by Slovak companies. He said there will be a tender to allow all those interested to participate.