S2R JU and the Transport Permanent Secretariat to develop rail in Western Balkan region

Western Balkan railway transportShift2Rail Joint Undertaking and the Permanent Secretariat of the Transport Community signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the development of Western Balkan railway transport, through the deployment of new technologies and innovative solutions.

The agreement was signed on 26 October during the Transport Community Ministerial Meeting where Adina Valean, the European Commissioner for Transport and all the ministers of the six Western Balkan countries participated.

Shift2Rail JU and the Permanent Secretariat of the Transport Community will promote the cooperation on research & innovation activities and projects between the two parties to contribute to the modernisation of the railway sector in Western Balkan region.

“This Memorandum of Understanding is a testament of our joint dedication to bring innovation and digital solutions to Western Balkans, shift more cargo from roads to rail and, in doing so, make the region’s transport system more competitive and better connected with the EU. Rail system investments will make the region more economically viable and facilitate development. We are looking forward to working together with Shift2Railon achieving these important goals,” said Matej Zakonjsek, the Director of the Permanent Secretariat of the Transport Community, during the signing ceremony.

The two sides will collaborate to make Western Balkan railway transport more attractive for people and companies which will choose rail to transport their products. Working together, Shift2Rail JU and the Permanent Secretariat will make a significant contribution to strengthening the European connection at the border of the European Union and to better integrate the railway systems.

The cooperation will start during the ongoing programming period under Horizon 2020 and will continue in the new multiannual financial framework that is expected to start in the second half of 2021, under Horizon Europe.

“This Memorandum of Understanding is very important for us because digitalisation and the fostering of rail interoperability are crucial aspects of railway system transformation. Shift2Rail can contribute to this process by creating opportunities for testing demonstrations and delivering quick wins resulting from Shift2Rail Research & Innovation”, Carlo Borghini, the Executive Director of Shift2Rail said.

The Transport Community organisation was established to develop the transport sector in Western Balkan region and includes the EU, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia. The countries are committed to develop the Regional Rail Strategy in the framework of the Transport Community. The organisation set up a Rail Action Plan that will allow a unitary development of the railway system across the region.

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