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The Bulgarian road freight transport sector - 2021

Bulgarian road freight transport (RFT) is mainly internationally-focused (i.e., more than 77% of the sector’s total activity). International cross-trade alone accounts for more than 44% of its total activity. In the latest CNR European ranking, the Bulgarian sector ranks fourth in this category. However, the Covid crisis in 2020-2021 and the consequences of the Mobility package appear to have had a negative impact on Bulgarian carriers. Bulgarian hauliers tend to focus more on neighbouring countries. The annual mileage of a Bulgarian heavy goods vehicle is lower than in the previous study: 129,500 km/year in 2021 compared to 150,600 km/year in 2015. The same applies to the annual mileage driven by Bulgarian drivers working internationally, down from 140,800 km/year in 2015 to 124,500 km/year in 2021. These drivers are appearing to return home more often: every two weeks on average compared to five to six weeks in 2015. Driver costs increased over the same period, from 15,859€/year in 2015 to 20,061€/year in 2021, an increase of 26.5% in 6 years. This is due to increases in the minimum wage and travel allowances. 

Significant increases have also been observed with respect to other costs: e.g. tolls (+40%), maintenance-repairs (+24.5%) or the cost of vehicle ownership (+17%). Conversely, the cost of tyres has fallen sharply since 2015 (down 29.1%), which can be explained by the fact that Bulgarian hauliers are particularly sensitive to this item.

Overall, in 2021, the total cost of a Bulgarian heavy goods vehicle operating on international routes is estimated to be 0.84€/km. Compared to the 2015 CNR study, this represents an increase of more than 25%.