SERBIA: The European Bank for Reconstruction & Development is providing a €100m sovereign guaranteed loan to state operator ZS, of which €64m is to be used to acquire 15 multi-system electric locomotives. The remainder will finance track renewals on 112 km of Pan-European Corridor X, which runs via Beograd, Novi Sad and Nis in Serbia, including the purchase of track maintenance equipment.

‘This project is a continuation of the EBRD’s support to the modernisation of Serbian Railways’, said EBRD Managing Director for Infrastructure Thomas Maier. ZS General Manager Milovan Marković added that the finance agreement would enable the railway company ‘to effectively compete through the provision of efficient transport services throughout the region’, with the new locomotives enabling ZS to operate on other European networks.

Marković said that the project would be completed by May 1 2014. According to Infrastructure Minister Milutin Mrkonjić, upgrading Corridor X is an ‘absolute priority’ for the Serbian government, with work on the northern section between Beograd and Subotica due to be completed by May 1 2012.

Including this fourth funding agreement with ZS, EBRD says that it has provided over €300m to modernise the Serbian railway network. Supported by €650 000 in technical assistance grants from the Central European Initiative, the German government and EBRD’s Shareholder Special Fund, the latest loan will also support restructuring at ZS as well as various energy efficiency initiatives.