Serbia outlines its 2027 investments in railway sector

railway sectorThe President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, and the Prime Minister, Ana Brnabić, have presented a EUR 12 billion development strategy for up to 2027, prioritising railway sector as it will have a” great role and responsibility” for the entire transport sector in the country.

In the next four years, the national authorities plan to develop the autonomous driving, the creation of the Bio4 campus at the Rakovica Selo site, as one of the biggest projects of this government for the development of science, the construction of new technology parks and development of artificial intelligence, as well as the transformation of the transport sector.

Regarding the rail infrastructure, Aleksandar Vučić said that in the north of the country, a lot of new projects will be launched while the ongoing projects will be completed. Here to mention the railway line between Novi Sad and Subotica which will be expected to be finished soon. When the traffic will be opened on the line, and the section in Hungary will be completed, the journey time from Belgrade to Budapest will be cut to 2h and 40min and from Novi Sad to the capital of Hungary in about 2 hours.

Other ongoing important projects involve rail projects in Niš area which “are very important for the development of the city”, the president said. These projects include the construction of the 23 km Niš – Brestovac line, for which works will begin soon, as well as the new railway from Niš to Dimitrovgrad, with a bypass around Niš.

The Belgrade Central station (Prokop railway station) will be opened in the next two months and currently 18 km of new double-track electrified line is being built the air – rail connection from Zemun Polje, near the depot in Zemun, and Nikola Tesla Airport to Prokop station.

“It will be possible to reach Prokop by train from the airport in 15-20 minutes depending on the number of stations. The line will run from Prokop to Zemun Polje then before arriving in Kamendin neighborhood [in Zemun], it will turn to the settlement of Singidunum and it will reach the airport. From here, the new railway will continue towards Surčin municipality, the National Stadium, the Expo Center, Jakovo (30 km west of Belgrade) towards Obrenovac, situated 40 km west of Belgrade.

The entire project is estimated between EUR 120 million and EUR 140 million and is expected to be completed in 2026 when the train will run at 120 km/h.

“Serbia’s development plan has been completely changed and from now on we are measuring everything until 2027. These are ambitious plans, the execution of which we have to start tomorrow. We have the energy, and we will need many people to work on the projects,” the president said on August 8, 2023, at the Expo Belgrade 2027, when unveiled the new vision.

Regarding to the capital city, the president underlined that the projects to be implemented will change the way the city looks like. “Belgrade will get a completely new face in the next four years. This will be used for further progress and development of Serbia. This will mean a huge quantum leap for the economy of our country,” Aleksandar Vučić emphasized.

Rail projects

In 2020, the Serbian government awarded a EUR 60 million contract to Trace Balkantel joint venture to modernise the 23 km Niš – Brestovac rail line and seven stations and stops, including the installation of the signalling and telecommunication systems along the line. The joint venture consists of Trace Group Hold (85%) and Balkantel (15%). Following its modernisation, the single-track line will allow trains to run at up to 120 km/h. The project is expected to be completed in 2024 and is funded by the EU grants from the IPA 2015 fund (85%) and the budget of the Republic of Serbia (15%). This section is part of the Belgrade – Niš – Preševo railway line which ensures the cross-border connection with North Macedonia on the southern part of the Pan-European Corridor X. The 151 km electrified Niš – Preševo line is one of the oldest railways in Serbia and the most important part of Corridor X through Serbia. EUR 448.7 million is the estimated value of the Niš – Preševo line modernisation, of which EUR 7.3 million has been secured as grants and EUR 250 million in loans.

The Niš – Dimitrovgrad is the single non-electrified section on the Corridor X in Serbia. The project covers the modernisation, reconstruction and electrification of the 96 km section as well the construction of a railway by-pass in Niš totalling 22 km. The EUR 268 million project also involves the installation of signalling and telecommunication systems. The European Investment Bank will provide EUR 134 million loan to support the project, while EUR 73 million will come from the Western Balkan Investment Framework (WBIF). The government of Serbia will cover 10% of the costs of the project and has submitted application for a EUR 34.4 million additional grant to be used for the construction of the bypass. EUR 93.4 million is the value of electrification works and EUR 74 million is the estimated cost for the construction of Niš rail bypass. In September 2021, a tender has been launched for the rehabilitation of a 82 km of single-non electrified track between Prosek (Sićevo) and Dimitrovgrad.

In 2022, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development announced the provision of a tranched loan of up to EUR 550 million to finance the rehabilitation and upgrade of the rail infrastructure of Rail Corridor X, the railway line connecting the 243 km Belgrade – Niš line to increase train speed at up to 200 km/h, enhancing quality of passenger and freight rail services. The modernisation of the line from the capital to the city of Niš is estimated at EUR 2.4 billion.

The 230 km long Belgrade – Niš is one of the most important rail projects for Serbia which will ensure cross-border connections situated on the Corridor X. The European Union will provide a EUR 600 million grant for the modernisation of the line, following an agreement signed this Spring.

EUR 265 million has been approved for the modernisation of Belgrade – Niš line and the remaining package consists of a EUR 1.1 billion loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and a EUR 550 million loan from the EBRD, with the remaining EUR 525 million to be provided by the Serbian State.

The line will be rehabilitated in the next years with work expected to be completed in 2029. The project is split into three stages including the Belgrade – Velika Plana, Velika Plana – Paracin and Paracin – Niš rail sections.

Following the agreement signed with the EU, in April 2023, the EIB and Serbian Government signed a EUR 174.5 million grant to support the modernisation of 48.3 km Paraćin – Međurovo rail section, via Trupale. The project involves track upgrade and the construction of the second track as well as the deployment of signalling and telecommunication systems. According to the WBIF, EUR 475.6 million is the total financing to modernise this section. A WBIF grant will cover the costs with EUR 265.2 million in loans from the EIB and EBRD and EUR 29.5 million is the state funding while EUR 6.3 million is an external grant from EU IPA.

Belgrade metro, also a priority

According to the Serbian president, in addition, a new train station – Novi Beograd – will be built in the next two years and one of the important rail projects includes Belgrade metro system, with the first line expected to enter operation in 2028.

Line 1 will be 21.2 km long with 21 stations and a depot in Makiš, connecting the southwestern and southeastern parts of the city from Železnik station to Mirijevo station.

In May 2023, Serbian government selected the consortium of Deutsche Bahn and Systra to provide management services for the construction of the first metro line of the city. Egis has developed a feasibility study for Belgrade Metro under a contract signed in 2020 and one year later, the French company was selected to develop the feasibility study for the Line 2.

In addition, at the beginning of 2023, RATP Dev won the Early Operator Assistance contract for the metro system.

Belgrade metro network would have 65 km and 67 stations with the first two lines totalling 42 km served by 24 stations. EUR 4 billion is the estimated value for the construction of these two lines, with the Line 1 project expected to cost more than EUR 1.8 billion. The metro system of Belgrade would be created by three lines which would need a EUR 6 billion investment.


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