EU to finance rail link between Bulgaria and Macedonia

Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations has said, quoted by Deutsche Welle, that the EU would finance the construction of a railway linking Bulgaria and Macedonia, which is part of a Pan-European Corridor VIII, stretching between the Bulgarian Black Sea coast and the Adriatic coast of Albania. The total cost of the project is estimated at EUR 600 million.

The EU commissioner also talked about the idea of creating a joint market between the Western Balkan countries, rejecting the criticism of Brussels that this is going to create a new Yugoslavia.

Commissioner Hahn made the statement during the 2017 Western Balkans Summit in Trieste, Italy.

The implementation of the project depends on the provision of financing for the construction of the line on Macedonian territory, the modernisation of the existing Sofia-Gyueshevo section and the construction of the missing section of 2.5 km from Gyueshevo railway station to the Macedonian border.

Earlier, in June, Bulgarian Minister of Transport, Ivaylo Moskovski, underlined that for the 2014-2020 programming period under Operational Programme “Transport and Transport Infrastructure” funds were provided for the overall preparation work of the project on the modernisation of Sofia-Pernik-Radomir-Gyueshevo railway line. Should financial resources be available, the construction of the railway section could start in 2020.

The Government in Skopje is focusing on the modernisation of Corridor X through the ongoing project financed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, with further 53 railway kilometers scheduled for construction.
In addition to the Corridor X projects, FYR Macedonia is also looking at the rail sections on Corridor VIII. The construction of the Eastern part of the Corridor, to Bulgaria, will be divided into three steps and financed through an EBRD and EIB loan and IPA funds.

In addition, a project to rebuild 17 railway kilometers on the Bitola-Kremenica section (Corridor X) is scheduled for launching and aims at creating connections with Greece. The work on an additional section, Beljakovce-Kriva Palanka, will also be carried out using EBRD financing with technical assistance from the EU and its WBIF instrument.

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