North Macedonia starts work on a rail connection to Bulgaria | So Good News
SKOPJE (N. Macedonia), October 31 (SeeNews) – North Macedonia said it began work on a 200 million euro ($199 million) project to rehabilitate and build the railway that will link the country to the border with Bulgaria and become part of European transport corridor VIII.
The project consists of the rehabilitation of the section Kumanovo – Beljakovce – an investment worth 40 million euros, and the completion of the construction of the section Beljakovce – Kriva Palanka – an investment worth 155 million euros, the Ministry of Transport and Communications said in a press release on Saturday.
The Kumanovo – Beljakovce section is 31 kilometers long and the reconstruction is estimated to last until 2024. The Beljakovce – Kriva Palanka section is 34 kilometers long and the construction is planned to last until 2025.
The third section, 23.5 kilometers long, from Kriva Palanka to the border with Bulgaria, remains high on the agenda of North Macedonia’s government, the transport ministry said.
“At this point, the infrastructure project has been approved and our teams are already working with teams from Bulgaria to develop the procedures for the joint railway station and tunnel,” the ministry said. “We expect already next year to issue a public tender and start the construction of the last part of the rail link, for which we already have available 61 million euros from the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance program (IPA) as well as 155 million euros from the Western Balkans Investment Framework of the European Union (WBIF).”
North Macedonia has received a loan of almost 200 million euros from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) for the works on the first two sections.
The overhaul of the Kumanovo – Beljakovce section will be carried out by an Austrian construction company, Strabag. The stretch from Beljakovce to Kriva Palanka will be built by the Turkish company Gülermak, the EBRD said in a separate statement.
In 2021, Bulgaria, Albania and North Macedonia signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) to build sustainable infrastructure along the European Corridor VIII, committing to complete the remaining parts of the transport route by 2030.
Corridor VIII is an east-west route connecting the Albanian Adriatic port of Durres with the Bulgarian Black Sea port of Varna via North Macedonia. Pan-European transport corridors are major international traffic arteries, which will assist each rail and road, sometimes combined, for the economic exchange of goods and extraction in Eastern Europe.
($ = 1.01 euros)