Bulgaria - General Information
National railway system
Bulgarian State Railways - Български държавни железници (БДЖ), romanised: Balgarski Darzhavni Zheleznici (BDZ).
In 2002 the state railway company BDZ was split into separate infrastructure (National Railway Infrastructure Company or NRIC) and carrier (BDZ EAD) companies. Between 2007 and 2011 BDZ EAD was further reformed into a holding company (Holding BDZ EAD) plus subsidiaries including a passenger carrier (BDZ - Passenger Transport EOOD) and freight carrier (BDZ - Freight Transport EOOD), but all collectively still referred to as BDZ.
National Railway Operator
Passenger operations are the responsibility of BDZ – Passenger Transport} (БДЖ - Пътнически превози)
Bulgarian, using Cyrillic script.
Lev (Lv, дв); 100 stotinki = 1 Lv
numeric 52; alpha BG
Actual Train Times
- A real-time tracker is available at https://radar.bdz.bg/en
- The web page https://live.bdz.bg/en has a feature to list real-time arrivals and departures for main stations, however when last reviewed the station selection dialogue was not working correctly and it defaulted to Sofia.
Although BDZ produces a pdf timetable document for domestic services they do not offer it on their web sites. A link will be added when a suitable third-party source has been identified. The 2021-2022 timetable can be found here .
Bulgarian international services are listed individually on https://www.bdz.bg/en/c/international-rail Time-table international.
Patevoditel (ПЪТЕВОДИТЕЛ). Includes all internal and international services. Almost completely written in Bulgarian, using Cyrillic script. The timetable map is diagrammatic and still shows a few lines that no longer have a passenger service. This can be very difficult to obtain, but a pocket-sized version "СЪКРАТЕНО РАЗПИСАНИЕ" with reduced detail is more generally available.
- European Railway Atlas (All-Europe Edition) by M.G. Ball.
- European Railway Atlas (Regional Series - Romania, Bulgaria and Moldova) by M.G. Ball.
- Mapa Kolejowa Bułgarii by W. Kolondra.
- Overview maps are available on Wikipedia, for example in Cyrillic and in English/German
- Maps and Plans - Bulgaria.
- Thorsten Büker's http://www.bueker.net/trainspotting/maps_bulgaria.php Map of Bulgaria with enlargements of http://www.bueker.net/trainspotting/maps_sofia-area.php Sofia and http://www.bueker.net/trainspotting/maps_gorna-orjahovica-area.php Gorna Orjahovica. Note that content is mostly outdated and page is not updated any more
- A map is available on the Infrastructure Authority website
The National Railway Infrastructure Company (NRIC), Национална компания "Железопътна инфраструктура" (НКЖИ).
The Network Statement page provides a list of Network Statements for various years, which can be downloaded in sections.
Standard. The BDZ line from Septemvri to Dobrinishte is 760 mm gauge. Sofia Tramways are mainly 1009 mm gauge.
25 kV 50 Hz.
Sofia Metro line M3 is 1500 v dc. with lines M1, M2 and M4 825 V dc third rail. Sofia Tramways are 600 V dc.
Rule of the road
Can be found in Annex 17  of the network statement.
Plovdiv Children's Railway (60 cm gauge and ~ 2 km in length).
See Sofia Metro.
A metro track map is available at Popov Metro maps captioned in Cyrillic.
The UrbanRailNet site has a basic diagram of the tramway system.
Recent and future changes
Tender documents for the upgrade of the line between Medkovets and Vidin were expected to be issued around May 2023. This will be a largely new line around 58km in length, shortening the distance by rail between these two points by around 14km. Work is anticipated to be completed by 2027. Design work is also currently underway for upgrading the rest of the line between Ruska Byala (Mezdra) and Medkovets and this is expected to include another substantial length of new line of around 35km. This route forms the main north/south link of the EU Orient/East-Med TEN-T Corridor.
Work started in early 2023 on upgrading the Elin Pelin – Kostenets – Septemvri section of the main line between Sofia and Septemvri / Plovdiv, again financed by the EU. The topography in this area is challenging and the new line will include around 25km of new tunnels plus other new alignments totalling around 17km. Work is scheduled for completion in 2027.
The Sofia Express (Sofia - Istanbul) resumed on 25 April 2022, having been withdrawn because of the pandemic.
Work started in mid-2021 on a second phase of upgrading the Plovdiv to Stara Zagora / Burgas line. This includes a new alignment of around 15km between Orizovo and Straldhaza which forms a cut-off avoiding Chirpan, although the existing line will also be retained here for stopping services. Work is due to be completed in May 2024.
A return service on Saturdays and Sundays between Plovdiv and Edirne (Turkey) started on 1 June 2019 (probably the first daytime working over this border crossing for a very long time) but ran for only one weekend before being withdrawn.
Another major EU-financed upgrade began in 2018 when work started on the Sofia to Elin Pelin section of the main line to Septemvri and Plovdiv. The work includes a complete rehabilitation of the line between these points but there are no new major structures or alignments. The project was due to be completed in 2020 but poor performance by the main contractor led to the work being suspended in May 2022 pending the appointment of a replacement contractor.
Dupnica - Bobov Dol closed to passengers with the December 2017 timetable change.
From 25 May 2017 passengers on regular services between Thessaloniki and Sofia were taken by bus over the border between Kulata BDŽ and Promachon OSE. This service had been reintroduced from 10 May 2014, reopening the border crossing to passenger traffic. The 2018/19 international timetable shows the weekly, summer only, Bucuresti - Sofia - Thessaloniki train running through without a bus segment from 7 June 2019 to 6 October 2019. This service was again suspended in 2020, initially due to Covid travel restrictions.
The 10 year project to upgrade the rail link between Plovdiv and the Turkish border at Kapikule was completed in May 2016. The work was primarily financed through the European Union’s Regional Development Programme with the objective of raising speed and train load / length limits to comply with European TEN-T standards. The work included over 70km of new alignments, a new viaduct over the Maritsa river at Svilengrad and a 3km bypass at Harmanli (the only passenger usage of this being the Optima Express). The route remains mostly single track however.
The journey planner contains trains between Kjustendil and Gjueshevo as at June 2014, following 6 months with none being shown.
The combined road/rail bridge between Calafat and Vidin named the "New Europe Bridge", was ceremonially opened to traffic on 14 June 2013. Two pairs of cross border all station DMU services between Vidin and Craiova in Romania commenced on 10 May 2014 but from the December 2014 timetable change were replaced by a pair of Sofia - Budapest long distance services which called at the main Vidin station to reverse, using a BDZ Class 55 Diesel over the Bridge. This was replaced at the December 2016 timetable change by a CFR operated Vidin and Craiova DMU service which in 2019 is down to one pair a day.
From an unknown date after December 2013 all of the limited table 600 service between Sofia and Pernik via Razmenna is diverted via a new curve to call at and reverse at Pernik-Razpredelitelna. Details when this commenced would be appreciated by the Compilers.
Much of the network is electrified, and more electrification is in progress. Electrification between Svilengrad and the border with Turkey was inaugurated on 9 May 2013, completing an electric route between the Serbian border and Istanbul.
The section of table 331 between Kremikovci and Jana via Obedinena lost its passenger service at the end of the 2008/2009 timetable period.