For the most part, China, but also Russia, has taken over the crediting and overhaul of some 400 kilometres of railways in Serbia despite the EU drafting the required project documentation, Radio Free Europe (RFE) reported on Monday.
RFE obtained data from the EU Delegation (DEU) in Serbia regarding the EU’s participation in the financing of the railway overhaul, which said the EU had been involved in many projects relating to the most important and longest railway sections towards the borders with Hungary in the north and with Northern Macedonia in the south.
DEU told RFE the EU was still ready to “financially participate in an important infrastructure project for the construction of the railway between Belgrade and the southern city of Nis”.
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The Delegation added the project was among the key initiatives recognized as a part of the EU Economic Investment Plan for the Western Balkans.
According to the Delegation, the plan envisages nine billion euro in grants, with the goal “to encourage the long-term recovery of the countries in the region and their economic rapprochement with the EU.”
Besides, DEU said “the EU believes it can offer the best possible conditions for large investments like this. The Western Balkans Economic Investment Plan, recently presented in Belgrade, is an excellent framework for our future cooperation with Serbia on infrastructure development.”
However, DEU added, Serbia’s officials opted for a partnership with China, with the line ministry recently confirming this decision.
“The plan is to implement the project (railway between Belgrade and Nis) with the Chinese company China Road and Bridge Corporation, which will be financed with the money from preferential Chinese loans,” the Ministry of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure told RFE, adding the estimated value of the project is around two billion euros.
The Ministry said that, on the other hand, Serbia had concluded agreements with the EU for the railway modernization on Corridor 10 and its branches.
The EU delegation told RFE that it would prepare Preliminary Design, Feasibility Study and Environmental Impact Assessment for some subsections of the Belgrade-Nis railway and had so far allocated seven million Euros in grants for that.
The prepared documents put the train speed of 160 kilometres per hour. Currently, trains in Serbia run at an average speed of 55 kilometres per hour and are among the slowest in Europe.
This post is also available in: Italiano