THE European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) will provide a €43m loan to state-owned rail freight operator Serbia Cargo to upgrade existing wagons, and purchase new freight wagons and locomotives.

The project is expected to have a significant effect on the quality of freight services, their competitiveness, the useful life of the fleet and, ultimately, growth of rail freight in the country.

Serbia Cargo will also benefit from technical assistance from the EBRD to improve corporate governance, staff training, and safety.

The investment will help promote modal shift from road to rail in Serbia, as well as bringing large environmental gains in terms of lower carbon emissions.

To date, the EBRD has provided nearly €500m for Serbia’s rail sector.

RCG launches Serbian branch

Rail Cargo Group (RCG), a subsidiary of Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB), has announced it is expanding its TransNET international network to the Balkans and China, and will set up a branch in the Serbian capital Belgrade during the first quarter of 2023.

Serbia will become the 13th European country that RCG operates in with its own locomotives and staff. As a result, the wider TransFER network will be able to provide services via two different routes to Turkey and Greece, where RCG is a market leader.

RCG will also create a branch office in Shanghai on January 1 2023 to increase traffic on the Kazakhstan - Azerbaijan/Georgia - Black Sea - Romania - Middle and Central Europe route.

RCG also expects that the first duty-free corridor in the world, which runs from the Port of Trieste in Italy to the Villach/Fürnitz Dry Port in Austria, will divert more road traffic onto rail. Villach will serve as a gateway for goods from all over the world to enter the EU.