Yet, Romania is currently lagging behind these infrastructure chapters as compared to peers. As in other sectors, this could set the impulse for a larger pace of growth starting from a very low basis and also offer an environment for more attractive investor returns than those of developed markets. Covering a strategic view on the needed infrastructure developments and directions a nation-wide transportation master-plan is currently in progress, coupled with the intention of drafting a major port’s master-plan.
Structurally unchanged from year 2012, the road transportation dominates the transportation infrastructure (circa 85% of total infrastructure industry value), followed at a distance by port harbors, water infrastructure and airports. Romanian transportation infrastructure industry value - circa 1/3rd of total construction market value - is expected to close year 2013 with USD 4.2 billion, up 2.5% compared to year 2012 and 0.3% faster than estimated GDP evolution, but still lagging behind the 5.2 billion pre-crisis levels.
CHANGE OF AUTHORITY STRUCTURE
Starting 2013, the Department for infrastructure projects and foreign investment (DIPFI) – a separate structure within the Romanian Government – deals with the projects of national interest, including motorways. The National Company for Motorways and National Roads (CNADNR) is functioning under the coordination of DIPFI.
EXISTING MOTORWAY NETWORK
Romania has a motorway network of 550 km (529 km under CNADNR administration and the remainder under Bucharest municipality). Compared with the country area (238.39 sq km and 900 km from East to West) and peers network, the current level is rather low. Romania is one of last countries in Europe in terms of motorways density over 1000 sq km (1.5 km/ 1,000 sq m, 23 times less than the European average of 35 km/ 1,000 sq m (EuroStat 2011 statistics, latest available in September 2013).
As pointed out by a Competition Council report, the distance from Constanta- Romania to Mako – Hungary (the 1st motorway towards Western Europe) is of circa 900 km and requires circa 14 hours of driving through Romania, although circa 44% of the distance is covered by existing Romanian motorways. The same driving time can be made on average from Mako to the Rotterdam port – 1,600 km, leaving a substantial room for improvement on the side of the local infrastructure.
In terms of cost efficiency during construction, the same source points out in an August 2013 report that the historical average cost of constructing one km of Romanian motorway in lowland areas, with no geotechnical difficulties, is three times larger than similar purpose expenditure in Bulgaria. However, it is not sure that the source factored into its analysis the life cycle profile of the infrastructure.
TRENDS AND TENDENCIES
For the next 3 years Romania is poised to experience a slightly larger growth than other Eastern European countries, with an estimated peak of 4.2% year on year real growth in 2015.
Following an unsuccessful concession attempt in years 2007-2009, for the first time during the Romanian market economy (i.e. during the past 24 years) three motorway projects are tendered in parallel via concession structures (design, build, operate, finance and maintain): (1) Comarnic-Brasov – green field project – 58 km, (2) a mix of a brown-field project, A1, A2 existing motorway sections totaling 300 km and with a traffic history connected together by a green-field section the South Bucharest Ring Road – 48 km, and (3) Craiova-Pitesti motorway – green field project – 121 km. The motorways are expected to be tolled. Notably, each project has its own performance ratios, potential solutions for capital expenditure, operation, maintenance and life cycle profiles, types of benefits/ advantages, traffic profiles. Although there are challenges, it is important that these projects reach financial close and this should be considered as a forefront objective, influencing the future developments of the motorways sector in 2014 and on.