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On Sunday Slovenia held a referendum on the second rail track act. According to unofficial results voters have backed the law. Photo: BoBo

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Referendum opposing second rail track unsuccessful

Government pleased with the result; Mr. Kovačič announces a constitutional review of the law governing the rail expansion
25. September 2017 ob 12:21
Ljubljana - MMC RTV SLO

On Sunday Slovenia held a referendum on the second rail track act. According to unofficial results voters have backed the law. Turnout was at just above 20 percent. 53,5 percent of those that did turn out at the polls voted for the law, while 46,5 percent against it.

One could notice a sense of relief and satisfaction among the government officials and those that showed support for the law on the expansion of the railway track between Divača and Koper. They promise to continue on with the project. At the same time those that initiated the referendum say they were discriminated during the campaign and say they will not stop with their activities. The main initiator of the referendum and head of the civil initiative called “Davkoplačevalci se ne damo” (Taxpayers Standing Our Ground), Vili Kovačič, said the second rail track act will be still have to be assessed by the Constitutional Court and Court of Audit.

The government sees the referendum result and the extremely low turnout as a clear show of support for the project. PM Miro Cerar said: "The time has come to finally build that second trail track for the good of the Port of Koper, for the good of the Slovenian Railway Company, Slovenia’s economy, for a green Slovenia, and most of all in order for Slovenia to become a competitive country on the transport map of the world."

The Minister of Infrastructure, Peter Gašperšič, said that work on the project would continue immediately after the announcement of the official results. In the meantime, preparations for site preparation work are underway. Once the second rail track act goes into effect, the 2TDK project company will be granted a 45-year concession for the track and will financially manage the construction project of the Divača-Koper rail section. There will be several key steps in the coming days and weeks: the opening of the offers for carrying out the site preparation work for the tracks, and the entry of the intergovernmental agreement between Slovenia and Hungary into parliamentary procedure.

During the referendum campaign talks with Hungary, which is reportedly prepared to back the project with around 200 million euros, have come to a halt. There is still no final deal on what Hungary would get in return for its participation in the project. But in case those talks fail the government still has a Plan B, assures Metod Dragonja, an advisor for the 2TDK project company. The missing 200 million euros would then be taken from the state budget. The promise is for the first train to roll down the second rail track by November 2025.

T. H., G. K., MMC; translated by K. J.
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