Macedonia to Start Building Rail Link to Bulgaria

Macedonia should complete its long-awaited rail link to the Bulgarian border by 2022, after beginning work in 2013, the Transport Minister said.Minister Mile Janakieski said the country plans to start building the first section of the railway towards the eastern border by March 2013.

He said that talks with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, EBRD were underway over a loan of €46.4 million needed for the first stretch.“In September the tender for a construction company will be announced and in February or March next year the construction work [of the line] from Kumanovo to Beljakovce section will begin,” Janakieski explained.

Construction of the first section should finish by 2017 and the other two remaining sections should be wrapped up by 2022, the minister added.

He said the government had already received written notice from the European Investment Bank that it will help build the second stretch of the line, which it is estimated will cost €145 million.

The basic project for the third and most expensive section, estimated to cost €332 million, is still being prepared.

Ever since Macedonian independence in the early 1990s, the country has been trying to build proper transport connections, including a railway and a highway, eastwards towards Bulgaria and westwards towards Albania.

The east-west route, which forms part of the pan-European Corridor 8, should provide Macedonia with a much needed alternative to the existing north-south highway and railway, part of Corridor 10, connecting the country to Serbia and Greece.

During the 1990s the Macedonia’s economy suffered as a result of its reliance on the Corridor 10 routes.

At that time, Macedonia was obliged to respect the international economic embargo on Serbia, on its northern border, which effectively cut off the main trade route towards Europe.

In 1994–95, Greece imposed a trade embargo on Macedonia as a result of the bilateral “name” dispute, which also badly hit the economy, as Macedonia was deprived of use of the Greek port of Thessaloniki.

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