The EU-funded Technical Assistance for the WBIF project in Serbia, Rail Interconnection from Niš to Preševo at the border with North Macedonia, was launched on 22 June in Belgrade. The kick-off meeting was attended by the representatives of the European Union Delegation in Serbia, European Investment Bank, Ministry of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure of Serbia and JSC Serbian Railways.
This subproject concerns the rehabilitation of 132.6 km long single railway line between Brestovac (15 km south of Niš) and Preševo at the state border of Serbia with North Macedonia. EU allocated €3.5 m technical assistance grant through WBIF for the preparation of the documents prior to implementation.
The scope of the IPF8 technical assistance for the project includes Option Analysis, Feasibility Study and Cost-Benefit Analysis; Surveys, including geotechnical, topographic and environmental baseline surveys; Preliminary Design for the rehabilitation of this section up to a speed of 120km/h; Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) and Tender Documents for Construction Works to Design Build Conditions (Yellow Book FIDIC).
Total investment value of the Niš – Preševo railway line rehabilitation is estimated at €182.25 m and financed through €90.5 m EIB loan, €14.67 m in national contribution, €4 m in EU grants for technical assistance and potential additional WBIF grants of more than €70 m.
The overall objective of this rehabilitation is the completion, modernisation and sustainable development of the Serbian railway transport system within the Pan-European Corridor X on the Oriental-East Mediterranean Corridor.
Thus, the capacities of Serbian railways will be enhanced and reinforced in the context of the EU pre-accession process. More specifically, the upgrade of the rail line will meet European standards, increase train speeds and capacity and improve safety, notably at level crossings and improve competition with road transportation, especially for international and transit freight traffic.
The Niš – Preševo section is one of the oldest railway lines in Serbia within the Pan-European Corridor X on the Oriental-East Mediterranean Corridor (Part of TEN-T Network). Rail Corridor X passes through Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, North Macedonia and Greece, leading also through Turkey to Asia.
Ms Vida Jerković, Serbian Ministry of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure: ‘The Ministry is grateful for the WBIF grant funds with which the subproject is to be implemented. This is a very important railway line at EU level and its role will be to shift the freight and passenger transport from roads to railways’.
Mr Felix Ardiaca, European Investment Bank: ‘We are very satisfied with the initiation of the Inception Phase, during which the critical issues related to it will be successfully identified, leading to overall effective implementation of the subproject’.