Fenechiu said that the cost (upwards of €1 billion) could never be justified, and that a cheaper, overground alternative should be considered.
You can read the story (in Romanian) here.
Fenechiu is of course right, and we would like to point out that we have long suggested an overground route from Gara de Nord to Otopeni would be a far better option. We first did so some five years ago, in 2008. If the idea had been picked up by anyone in the corridors of power back then we’d quite possibly have a proper railway to the airport by now.
As it is, we have instead the Henri Coanda Express, an embarrassment of a service used by very few people which runs just seven times per day from Gara de Nord to a halt in the middle of nowhere; a 20-minute minibus ride (longer if traffic is bad) is required to complete the journey.
As we wrote back in 2008, building a subterranean railway at a cost in excess of €1 billion is ludicrous when such a low-cost solution is at hand. The current railway line (as used by the Henri Coanda Express) passes within three kilometres of the airport.
The only tunnelling required to link the line to the airport would be the last two and a half kilometres under the DN1 and the airport terminal. Otherwise, upgrading the existing CFR line is all that is needed. The cost would be a tiny fraction of tunneling all the way from 1 Mai (where the M6 would branch off from the M4) to Otopeni.
The people at TER (Tren Urban pentru Bucuresti) have also had the same idea. Here is their map of the proposed route:
In other existing railway lines not being used to their full potential news, last year at about this time there was much talk of CFR restarting suburban services on some of the tracks which surround Bucharest (if not quite to the extent as TER proposed).
Did that ever happen?