Montenegro and Serbia Open Joint Rail Border Crossing in Bijelo Polje

BIJELO POLJE – As a milestone for connectivity in the Western Balkans, Montenegro and Serbia have commenced joint border control operations at the recently modernised Joint Rail Border Station Bijelo Polje. This initiative, effective from today, marks the end of separate border checks at stations on either side of the border, streamlining rail traffic between Montenegro and Serbia.

This operational shift, in accordance with agreements and implementing protocols between the Governments of Montenegro and Serbia, leverages the recently upgraded facilities in Bijelo Polje. The station’s modernisation, completed in May 2023 with a €2.1 million investment from the EU Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA 2017), enables more efficient and expedited rail traffic.

Welcoming the guests of the inaugural ceremony at the train station, Minister of Transport and Maritime Affairs of Montenegro, H.E. Mr Filip Radulović said that by working together on projects like these, the governments contribute to the mutual development and connectivity of the economies and better connections with EU countries.

“In this way, an activity undertaken through the Transport Community Treaty has also been implemented, which relates to the obligation to establish uniform border agreements and procedures between the contracting parties,” he underlined.

Minister of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure of Serbia, H.E. Mr Goran Vesić pointed out that integrated border crossings are the common priority of the two ministries.

“People’s waiting is hereby reduced to a minimum time interval, while double customs and passport controls will be avoided. The fast connection between people will be accelerated through the implementation of several joint projects in the field of infrastructure. By opening the joint railway station in Bijelo Polje, we have only continued the cooperation with Montenegro, which we will further improve in the future,” Minister Vesić said.

Director of the Permanent Secretariat of the Transport Community, Mr Matej Zakonjšek, said that inadequate transport networks and a lack of coordination seriously limit the connectivity of the citizens within the region and with the European Union.

“Solving these issues requires investments in infrastructure, as well as better cooperation among neighbours. The station in Bijelo Polje has already become a great example for the entire region. Under one roof, the relevant authorities will cooperate, and the train will no longer have to stop twice as it did before,” he stressed out.

By consolidating border controls at a single location, the new joint operations enhance connectivity along the rail corridor, increasing the efficiency of both rail freight and rail passenger operations. This project stands as a milestone to the excellent cooperation between Montenegro and Serbia and is expected to improve the attractiveness of railway transport for both passengers and cargo.

With the anticipated minimum time savings, the passenger trains are expected to save at least 30 minutes and freight trains 60 minutes or more per ride. These improvements are particularly beneficial for the region’s only international passenger line, connecting Belgrade, Podgorica, and Bar, making it more convenient and attractive for travelers and tourists.

Today’s event marks the crucial development in regional transport facilitation, aligning with the Transport Community’s Action Plans and demonstrating effective use of EU funds, strong bilateral relations, and the application of EU best practices.

The Transport Community Secretariat has played a crucial role in coordinating and supporting this project, underlining its commitment to enhancing transport connectivity across the Western Balkans and between the region and the EU.