The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the European Union (EU) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) are joining forces to support Serbia’s large-scale modernisation of the rail link connecting Belgrade to the country’s second-largest city, Niš.
The three organisations are providing a €2.2 billion financing package to Serbia for a much-needed upgrade of the strategic rail link, which forms part of the Pan-European Corridor X railway axis. The package includes a €550 million EBRD loan, the largest EBRD loan to Serbia to date. It also includes a €1.1 billion loan from the EIB, and an investment grant of around €598 million from the EU, the largest EU grant for a single project in Serbia to date. The EU has already approved €265 million worth of grants and the first tranche, amounting to €82.8 million, was signed at an event held today on a symbolic train ride from Belgrade’s main train station to Ripanj.
EU Commissioner Oliver Várhelyi and the President of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić witnessed the signing and presented the financial package together with representatives of the government of Serbia, the EBRD and the EIB.
The proceeds will finance substantial modernisation of the 230 km railway section connecting Belgrade to Niš, including the construction of new bridges and tunnels. The upgrade will enable travel speeds of up to 200 km per hour and decrease total travel time between Belgrade and Niš from the current six hours to one hour and 40 minutes.
The improved rail link will also support Serbia's economic development, contribute to its local and regional connectivity and integration, and enhance the competitiveness of rail transport, especially for international and transit freight traffic.