EUROPE: Ministers from Bulgaria, Albania and North Macedonia have signed a memorandum covering plans to complete the missing rail links between their countries by 2030, but cautioned that this will require signficant investment.

Bulgaria is to complete the upgrading of the Sofia – Pernik – Radomir – Gyueshevo line and build a 2·5 km extension to the border with North Macedonia.

North Macedonia will build lines to its borders with Bulgaria and Albania. This will include the completion of work on the 65 km Kumanovo – Beljakovci – Kriva Palanka line, and the planned 23 km link from Kriva Palanka to Deve Bair on the border with Bulgaria. Detailed plans will be drawn up for the modernisation and electrification of the Kumanovo – Skopje – Kičevo line and the construction of a 70 km line from Kičevo to Struga and the Albanian border near Lin.

Albania is upgrading the 37 km Tiranë - Durrës line and is to build a 5·7 km branch to Nënë Tereza international airport at Rinas. It has also committed to rehabilitating the Durrës – Rrogozhinë – Elbasan – Pogradec line and the construction of the short missing link to the North Macedonian border.

‘It is very important for us to expand and improve transport links in the region’, said Bulgaria’s Minister of Transport Hristo Alexiev on October 19. ‘Some connections are still missing; others need to be upgraded to provide more capacity.’