“We want to have an interoperable network in order to attract different EU operators”

A year after announcing the initiation of the railway market liberalisation process, Kosovo Railways was split into two companies, the railway infrastructure manager and the company responsible with freight and passenger transport activities. In the coming years, the authorities plan to develop the railway system in Kosovo by implementing infrastructure projetcs that would integrate Kosovo’s network into the European railway system. They also plan to develop the multimodal transport system in the country. As for the modernisation of Corridor X, the company is considering several options: modernisation of the existing infrastructure (estimated at EUR 174 Million) and the construction of two parallel lines (EUR 513 Million).
Xhevat Ramosaj, CEO of INFRAKOS (Infrastructure of Kosovo Railways JSC) talks about the  implementation of projects and the development strategy of the transport sector in Kosovo.

Railway Pro: From September 2011, Kosovo Railways JSC is separated into two new companies. How does this influence the deve-lopment of the railway system in Kosovo and the activities of newcomers? Does this mean that the liberalisation is on the right track?

Xhevat Ramosaj: From 1 September, Kosovo Railways JSC is separated into two new companies: Infrastructure of Kosovo Railways JSC – INFRAKOS and Train operations of Kosovo Railways JSC – TRAINKOS.
This process has started a year ago and it was not easy because of the many agreements and different issues related to the separation. Since we are just at the beginning, I hope that this separation will speed up the development of the infrastructure and transport, but what is more important is that this process will make possible the liberalisation of the railway market and will open Kosovo infrastructure for other railway undertakings.

Railway Pro: At the Railway Days Summit 2011 held in Bucharest, you said that the state is drafting a strategy for multi-modal transport development. Does this mean that the state has a real method for improving the logistics performance? How will the rail sector benefit from this strategy?

Xhevat Ramosaj: Yes, the state is drafting a Multi Modal Development strategy for Kosovo, and part of this strategy refers to the railway sector. It is very important to mention that this strategy includes the Action Plan for railways based on which an investment programme until 2035 is foreseen. If the government approves this strategy, the railway sector will benefit very much because there are many projects which are waiting for financial support. We hope that the state will find solutions for railway sector investments through its budget and different IFIs.

Railway Pro: In November 2010, the European Commission supported the feasibility study for modernisation of the Railway Corridor X. What is the next step in the implementation of this project taking into account that there are more options?

Xhevat Ramosaj: In November 2010, the feasibility study for modernisation of the Railway Route 10 was completed. There are three options for this route which require different amounts of investment. We planned to go with the option consisting in the modernisation of this line in order to achieve the projected speed, and this requests around EUR 174 Million which we don’t have now. The state is looking to find a solution to implement this project in phases and there are some contacts with diffe-rent financial institutions in order to find needed investments. Therefore two parallel lines are prepared for the future which should be executed if other regional railways do the same. We have these options because of the financial situation. The modernisation of the existing lines is feasible, while parallel lines are not feasible in this stage and nobody will see any interest to invest in them. The state is opened for diffe-rent investors and PPPs too.

Railway Pro: What is Kosovo Railways’ strategy for having an interoperable network opened to European companies?

Xhevat Ramosaj: Our main line which connects Kosovo with Europe is Railway Route 10 and we are very much interested in developing this line. However, the construction of the railway line connecting Albania and Kosovo is very important in order to connect Railway Corridor VIII with Railway Corridor X. This is the future project which we consider  important not only for Kosovo but also for regional countries.
As I said before, by developing our railway lines (especially Railway Route 10), we think to make an interoperable network in order to attract different EU operators to transport through our network. We have created all needed legislation for the opening of the railway market. We are very much interested to develop rail freight transport, as well as passenger transport, but in this stage of political and economic situation, it is very hard to make things move. However, we are ready and we are doing our best in order to increase the freight volumes in railway transport.

[ by Pamela Luică ]
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