The World Bank has approved a $62.5m loan to support phase one of the Multi-Phase Programmatic Approach for Serbia Railway Sector Modernisation Project.

The overall financing limit for the programme stands at $400m.

With a 50% joint co-financing, the World Bank is collaborating with the French Development Agency for this phase, which requires a $125m investment.

Serbia is planning to upgrade around 3,735km of its rail network to enhance efficiency, environmental sustainability, and regional connectivity.

World Bank Serbia country manager Stephen Ndegwa said: “Serbia’s rail network is a major asset for the country with the potential to play a strategic role in the nation’s growth and job opportunities. The programme will lead to better quality infrastructure, improved safety, enhanced in-country and regional integration, accelerated economic growth, and an improved business environment in the region.

“A renewed and modernised rail network will become an essential part of transforming multi-modal transport in the country and the programme is fully aligned with Serbia’s European Union accession agenda, including its commitment to the EU’s Green Deal and climate neutrality, which envisions a 90% reduction in transport emissions.”

The preliminary assessments suggest that this project will provide benefits of nearly $111.28m to the project beneficiaries.

The aim of the project is to reduce rail fatalities by 23%, increase network utilisation by 5%, and expand the market share of national cargo rail by 10% in the next decade.

The country is planning to invest $3.93bn (€3.3bn) in its rail network over the next ten years.

The investment will be used for the implementation of the European Railway Traffic Management System, complete electrification of the rail line tracks, improve rail asset management, and more.

The World Bank recently approved a $440m loan to support Egypt’s initiatives to upgrade the safety and service quality of its railways.