Albania on track for faster, safer railway

Albania on track for faster, safer railway


Under the Team Europe banner, the European Union (EU) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) are providing 128.8 million in grants and technical assistance support of up to 12.1 million through the Western Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF), for 120 km of railway track from Vore in central Albania to Hani i Hotit on the border with Montenegro.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is providing a 98.75 million sovereign loan to the government, which was signed at the sidelines of the Western Balkans Investment Summit in London on 26 February 2024. 

The €374 million investment project will electrify tracks and renovate 12 train stations, including new signalling systems and safety improvementsallowing increased speeds of up to 120 km/h. Part of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) extension in the region, this line is Albanias only railway connection with its neighbouring countries. It’s revamp will boost regional connectivity in the Western Balkans and integration with EU markets.

Supporting a vital but under-invested sector in the country, this project helps Albanias social and economic development. It supports the green transition by promoting a modal shift from road to electrified rail, a more efficient and climate-friendly mode of transport.

In addition, it pushes forward the reform agenda in the country by helping the railway company prepare for the operational phase through the development of a framework public-service contract in line with international best practice.

The Vorë - Hani i Hotit Railway project has been identified as Flagship 3 • Connecting the Coastal Regions within the Investment priority Sustainable transport. The project is one of twenty-one flagship projects, endorsed for financing by the Western Balkans Investment Framework in 2022. The European Union and bilateral donor grants amount to €1.1 billion for key railway, road and waterway interconnections, renewable energy and transition from coal, waste water management, new healthcare facilities, as well as the roll-out of broadband infrastructure.

Belinda Balluku, Albanias Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Infrastructure and Energy, said: The Vore-Hani i Hotit railway line marks the second rail infrastructure project in Albania, part of a national strategy to enhance the quality and accessibility of rail services throughout the country, while fostering connectivity and economic relations with neighbouring countries – in this case, with Montenegro, to be followed by the first rail segment of Corridor VIII that connects the Adriatic Sea to the Black Sea. These investments will drive economic growth and social development in Albania, aligning with the goal of promoting green, sustainable and integrated economies in the Western Balkans. The government remains grateful to the EBRD and the EU for consistently supporting the development of strategic projects in Albania.

Ambassador Silvio Gonzato, Head of EU Delegation to Albania, said: Connecting people within the Western Balkans and with the European Union is key for the region’s integration in the EU. The Vore-Hani i Hotit railway line, funded by the EU, will bring faster and safer travel along the Adriatic coast and boost trade for Albania and the region, while advancing their green transition.” He continued, As Albania delivers on its necessary reforms to prepare for EU membership, EU support continues to bring immediate and concrete benefits to its people and shows that the EU is here.”

Odile Renaud-Basso, EBRD President, said: Regional connectivity is a strategic priority for the EBRD in the Western Balkans, especially in light of broader EU integration. This project is another milestone in that direction, demonstrating our commitment to Albanias, and the regions, European future."

This project is the second railway investment in Albania following the investment of a 35.5 million EU investment grant through the WBIF and a 36.9 million loan from EBRD for the Tirana-Durres section, which is currently under construction.

Rail Section Tirana-Durres (c) EBRD, 2023