The EBRD is providing a 15-year €46.4mn loan to upgrade the Macedonian rail network to create a new route for trade and encourage regional integration.

The Mcedonian state company responsible for railways, Public Enterprise for Railway Infrastructure will upgrade the 30km link from Kumanovo to Beljakovce.

The project is also being supported by a €4mn loan from the EU’s Western Balkans Investment Framework for project design, tender preparation and implementation assistance, while the introduction of an energy management system will be supported by a €175,000 grant from the Central European Initiative.

The EBRD’s director for transport, Sue Barrett, says: “Once the entire corridor VIII (link from Kumanovo to Beljakovce) is operational, it will give Macedonia a shorter route to Black Sea ports. It is also expected to stimulate the regional economy by making transportation flows easier.”

Further development of this transport corridor will also link the Black Sea in Bulgaria with the Adriatic in Albania.

“Industry, commerce and people in general – not only in Macedonia but all along the route – will benefit from the new rail link upon its completion,” adds Claudio Viezzoli, EBRD director for Western Balkans.

“This corridor will develop a transportation system that will contribute to increasing trade between Albania, Macedonia and Bulgaria. It will improve both access and connection with neighbouring countries and thus increase the competitiveness and development of the economy, as well as communication with European countries”, says the vice-prime minister and minister of finance, Zoran Stavreski.

To date the EBRD has invested over €1bn in approximately 80 projects in Macedonia.