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EBRD and EU back rehabilitation of Kosovo’s railway network

By Bojana Vlajcic

  • EBRD loan of €40 million and €91 million EU grant to Kosovo’s national rail company
  • Rehabilitation of the main rail link connecting Kosovo to Serbia and North Macedonia
  • EBRD investment in the Western Balkans rail sector to reach €1 billion in 2022

The upgrade of Kosovo’s railways has taken a major step forward with works launched today on the rail section from Fushë Kosovë to Mitrovica. Work to rehabilitate the country’s only international rail link is being financed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Union (EU).  

Once completed, the 149 kilometre rail link will connect Kosovo with Serbia to the north and North Macedonia to the south. It will enable an increase in travel speed to 100 km/h and safer passenger and freight transport.

Work will include the refurbishment of 35 kilometres of track and the upgrade of five railway stations, in line with Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) standards. This is the second of a three-phase rehabilitation project and follows work already underway on the section from Kosovo’s border with North Macedonia to Fushë Kosovë.

The investment is being financed with a €40 million EBRD loan to Kosovo’s national railway company, Infrastruktura e Hekurudhave të Kosovës (Infrakos), and €42 million EIB loan. In addition, almost half of all project costs are expected to be covered by an EU investment grant of around €83 million through the Western Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF).

Neil Taylor, EBRD Head of Kosovo, said: “We are delighted to see that Kosovo is moving forward with the rehabilitation of its railway, the largest investment in the country’s transport infrastructure for decades. It will connect Kosovo with the region and beyond and will help boost economic opportunities and make travel easier, safer and greener for its citizens.”

The Kosovo rail route 10 project is part of the Western Balkans core railway network and an extension of TEN-T, part of the EU’s wider efforts to promote transport connectivity in the Western Balkans.

The country’s rail system is in poor condition, with serious structural constraints that limit traffic to 30-70 km/h. Decades of underinvestment have led to the deterioration, similar to the rest of the region. Low speeds and the poor quality level of rail services have made road transport dominant.

The EBRD and the EU are supporting rail upgrades in the Western Balkans with a view to improving connectivity and promoting a modal shift from road to rail as a greener mode of transport. The Bank’s investments in the rail sector in the Western Balkans region will reach €1 billion in 2022.  

The EBRD is one of the leading institutional investors in Kosovo. To date, it has invested €625 million in the country’s economy.

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