Western Balkans should be included in TEN-T network, says CER

The Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER) calls for inclusion of the Western Balkans in the Trans-European Network for Transport (TEN-T) at the Western Balkans Rail Summit 2021. They also advocate adequate funding for rail projects.

The rail summit in the Western Balkans took place on 13 September in Belgrade, Serbia. Countries of the Western Balkans include Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia. At the summit, CER highlighted the importance of the region for a well-connected Europe.

Central Europe

“Adequate financing of rail projects is a priority for the Western Balkans”, said CER Executive Director Alberto Mazzola. “An efficient rail system in the region will enable Central Europe to be better connected via rail to potentially very important commercial partners, such as Turkey and the Middle East. We must take all opportunities to remind the EU institutions that the TEN-T network should also include the Balkan route.”

The region has a lot of potential as a gateway to Europe, as it includes some major ports. The Greek port of Piraeus connects with all base ports of China. The Croatian port of Rijeka and the Montenegrin port of Bar also play an important role. Especially the Central & Eastern European countries benefit from a good railway network in the western Balkans, in order to have access to these vital ports.

Serbia invests

At the summit, the Serbian prime minister Ana Brnabic announced that the country is investing about 6.5 billion euros to modernise a total of 1,000 km railway lines. Among them are the railway lines linking Pancevo to the Romanian border via Vrsac and Valjevo to Vrbnica.

The country is also actively working on the project documentation for the Belgrade-Nis high-speed railway, which will be largely financed through EU grants. In addition, it is preparing the modernisation of Nis-Dimitrovgrad and Subotica-Szeged rail lines, reported SeeNews.

Connecting Europe Express

The Connecting Europe Express arrived in Belgrade on 12 September and continues on its five-week journey through Europe, encompassing visits and events in more than 100 towns and cities. “This is an excellent example of the unifying force of rail and the benefits of the Trans-European Transport Network”, says CER.

CER welcomes the current revision of TEN-T Regulation 1315/2013 this December and invites the European Commission to consider the importance of including the Western Balkans in its proposals.

Author: Majorie van Leijen

Majorie van Leijen is editor of RailFreight.com, online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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