Bulgaria: eyes of the world watch delicate steps to restore rail tracks

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It is a sign of the times that this small tunnel along the coastline does not do brisk business as it usually does; a sign of another era, a different Bulgaria, how things used to be before the euro.

Hidden on this dark, narrow coast is a platform built for trains once zipping through the little narrow gauge railway that cuts through Bulgaria from Greece to western Romania. The last stretch was abandoned in 1976; most of the train tracks and stations built for it now sit unused.

But this February there is a sense of hope. All of this is the result of a law change by Borissov that has triggered a wave of investment.

Borissov’s law changes allow Bulgaria to preserve its historical heritage: by making it part of the national heritage, and so legally binding to maintain it.

It also makes it attractive to foreign investors. The Sofia local government wants to attract global companies.

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“Please save it,” Borissov told the man who first thought of the local museum. “You’ll have many guests.”

First built in 1930, the narrow gauge railway still has some of its tracks. But the tracks lead to crumbling tunnels and a bench sitting at the end of them.

Bulgaria must generate funds to pay the bill for restoring its cultural heritage, and such projects provide an injection of cash. But the saga of the narrow gauge railway takes on a different dimension when you consider that history is not always innocent: it is the story of the hopes of a society to solve its economic problems and foster a more united nation.

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