The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the European Union (EU), along with its partners, have agreed to support and enhance rail connectivity in Albania.

The EBRD will provide a loan of up to €36.9m, while the EU will provide up to €35.5m through the Western Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF).

A joint initiative of the European Commission with international financial institutions and other donors, the WBIF supports strategic investments in various sectors, including energy, the environment and transport in the region.

“These rail projects are expected to provide tangible benefits to local people, as well as encourage businesses across the region.”

The funding will be used to modernise around 34km of railway track between Tirana and Durres on the Adriatic coast, as well as build a new 7.4km rail link connecting the two cities to Rinas International Airport.

Durres is Albania’s largest port and it also serves as a major regional trade hub.

These rail projects are expected to provide tangible benefits to local people, as well as encourage businesses across the region.

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By GlobalData

As well as reducing journey times on this key route, the project will offer new trade opportunities for local businesses.

Furthermore, it will encourage the people of the region to move from road services to the more sustainable railway transport alternative. In turn, this will assist the development of green and integrated economies in the Western Balkans.

This railway upgrade programme forms part of the larger plan to enhance overall connectivity in the region.

In December last year, the EBRD approved a €190.5m loan to carry out major railway improvements in the Western Balkan region. The EU will also support the projects by providing an additional €120m.