INFRASTRUCTURE manager Serbian Railway Infrastructure (IŽS) has signed a €153.6m contract for the construction of a 22.4km bypass around the city of Niš.

The contract has been awarded to a consortium led by local contractor Extra Auto Transport that also includes China Road and Bridge Corporation. Work is expected to start later this month for completion within a period of 1035 days.

The single-track electrified bypass will have a maximum speed of 120km/h and forms part of the project to upgrade and electrify the 86km line from Niš to Dimitrovgrad on the border with Bulgaria. This also includes upgrading the 80km Sicevo -Stanicenje - Dimitrovgrad section.

Niš - Dimitrovgrad is the only section of Pan-European Railway Corridor X that has yet to be electrified. Forming part of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T), Corridor X runs from Salzburg in Austria to Thessaloniki in Greece.

The Niš - Dimitrovgrad section is on branch Xc of the corridor, running from Niš to Sofia and Plovdiv in Bulgaria and Edirne and Istanbul in Turkey.

Serbia’s transport minister, Mr Goran Vesic, has announced that the upgrade of the 230km Belgrade - Niš main line, also forming part of Corridor X, will start in 2025. This will raise the maximum speed to 200km/h and cut journey times from 6 hours to 1h 40min.

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