The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is providing a loan of €39.9M (£29.2M) to finance the modernisation of Kosovo’s railway infrastructure.
The loan to national railway infrastructure firm Infrastruktura e Hekurudhave të Kosovës (Infrakos) will provide funding to upgrade Kosovo’s only international rail link, Rail Route 10.
Rail route 10 forms the connection between Kosovo’s railway network and the European network through Corridor VIII and Corridor X in FYR Macedonia in the south of the country and the Serbian border in the north.
The EBRD said the loan represented the largest transaction it had made in Kosovo to date and the bank’s first investment in the country’s transport sector.
It added that the modernisation of transport infrastructure was one of the its key priorities in the Western Balkans and would help to improve trade routes within the region and develop stronger cross-border cooperation.
EBRD first vice president Phil Bennett said: “A well-developed and modern transport infrastructure is critical for achieving sustainable economic growth. We are proud to have Kosovo’s Rail Route 10 as our first transport project in the country. The rehabilitation of Kosovo’s only international rail link is vital for the country’s further integration into regional and international markets.”
At the signing at the EBRD headquarters in London, Kosovo minister of finance Avdullah Hoti added: “It is a very important step towards improving national and international trade links and enhancing the efficiency and quality of passenger and cargo transit.”
The 148km-long railway is divided into three sections: the southern section Fushë Kosovë -FYR Macedonian border; the central section Fushë Kosovë-Mitrovicë; and the northern section Mitrovicë -Serbian border. The proceeds of the loan will be used to rehabilitate and modernise these sections in separate stages.
Alongside the EBRD’s loan, the project will also be funded by the European Investment Bank.
The EBRD said that through project implementation it would also support the improvement of asset management practices, track access charges and equal opportunities, with particular emphasis on workforce diversity and gender equality.
The Kosovo Rail Route 10 project is part of the Western Balkans core railway network, an extension of the Trans-European Transport Networks, which is part of a wider European Union agenda to promote transport connectivity in the region.