THE European Union (EU), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) have announced a €560m package of financial and technical support for the project to construct 24km of track from the Bulgarian border to Kriva Palanka and to electrify 88km of railway from the border to Kumanovo.

The financing package consists of a €175m loan from EIB Global, a €175m loan from the EBRD, a €150m EU grant from the Western Balkans Investment Framework and up to €60m through an Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance grant. The EU and EIB will also provide technical support for the project, including preparation, tendering and implementation through the Joint Assistance to Support Projects in European Regions (Jaspers) programme.

The line is the final phase of a project to complete the eastern section of the EU’s Pan-European Corridor VIII, which is also part of the EU TEN-T Core network. Once completed, the line will have capacity to transport 500,000 tonnes of freight and 500,000 passengers per year. It will also reduce the distance to the Black Sea and Turkey by around 200km and provide a direct connection between Sofia and Skopje.

“The substantial financial package earmarked for this project demonstrates that with firm commitment and partnerships under the Team Europe approach, we can advance vital infrastructure projects that bring tangible benefits for regional economies and people,” says EIB vice-president, Mr Kyriacos Kakouris.

“The new railway line will accelerate the country’s reforms in the railway sector, facilitate broader regional integration and enable North Macedonia to benefit further from upcoming European Commission initiatives such as the new Growth Plan.”

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