Refurbishing just one railway corridor in FYR Macedonia can give this Balkan country – and its neighbours – a whole new route for trade and bring regional integration several steps closer.
The Macedonian rail network – which is mainly divided into two corridors – needs an upgrade on a 30 km link from Kumanovo to Beljakovce. The EBRD is providing a €46.4 million financing for the modernisation of this link - Section 1 of the FYR Macedonia Railway Corridor VIII - Eastern Section.
The Bank is making a senior 15-year loan of up to €46.4 million to the state company responsible for railways, Public Enterprise for Railway Infrastructure.
The project is supported by a substantial grant funding totalling €4 million provided by the EU’s Western Balkans Investment Framework or project design, tender preparation and implementation assistance. Introduction of an energy management system will also be supported by a €175,000 grant from the Central European Initiative.
The EBRD’s Director for Transport, Sue Barrett, said: “Once the entire Corridor VIII is operational, it will give Macedonia a shorter route to Black Sea ports. It is also expected to stimulate the regional economy by making transportation flows easier.”
Further development of this transport corridor will ultimately link the Black Sea in Bulgaria with the Adriatic in Albania.
“Industry, commerce and people in general – not only in FYR Macedonia but all along the route – will benefit from the new rail link upon its completion,” said Claudio Viezzoli, EBRD Director for Western Balkans.
“This corridor will develop a transportation system that will contribute to increasing trade between Albania, Macedonia and Bulgaria. It will improve both access and connection with neighbouring countries and thus increase the competitiveness and development of the economy, as well as communication with European countries”, said the Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Zoran Stavreski.
The project is also expected to stimulate reform in further areas such as track access charges being in line with EU rail sector guidelines and the commercialisation of non-core assets across the company. The project also envisages an energy efficiency programme to improve the energy performance of the company.
To date the EBRD has invested over €1 billion in about 80 projects in FYR Macedonia.