Citizens of North Macedonia will benefit from greener transport and improved regional connectivity thanks to new construction on the eastern section of its railway network, part of the Pan-European Corridor VIII.
An event was held today to mark the start of construction works on a 34-kilometre section from Beljakovce to Kriva Palanka and the finalisation of remaining works on a 31-kilometre section from Kumanovo to Beljakovce.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has extended a loan of almost €200 million to North Macedonia for these works on the two rail sections.
The railway upgrade also benefits from extensive support from the European Union (EU), which has provided a €75 million investment grant. In addition, bilateral donors to the Western Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF) have extended €6 million in grants for technical assistance for project preparation and supervision.
Earlier this week, works also began on Albania’s railway network. The reconstructed rail links will eventually connect – via North Macedonia – Albania’s largest port of Durres on the Adriatic with the Black Sea port of Varna in Bulgaria.
Including these investments, the EBRD has committed a total of €940 million to rail projects in the six Western Balkans countries to date and plans to invest nearly the same amount ‒ another €840 million – in the medium term.
Andi Aranitasi, EBRD Head of North Macedonia, said: “Improving transport infrastructure and especially railways, a safer and greener mode of transport, will not only improve regional connectivity and open up new economic and trade opportunities, but also plays a key role in addressing the urgent issue of climate change. The EBRD has allocated more than €350 million to date for the railway sector of North Macedonia, including €300 million for Corridor VIII and we are determined to see this strategic project for the country and the region completed”.