Delegation of the Transport Community Permanent Secretariat visited Albania on 1-2 February for a series of meetings with the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, the National Inspectorate and the Albanian Railways focusing on infrastructure projects and rail sector reforms.
Finalising construction of rail Corridor VIII is a priority for Albania, and the authorities are committed to rehabilitation of the Tirana-Durres railway line, building a new railway section to Mother Teresa International Airport, rehabilitating the railway line from Durres to Lin and building a railway link from Lin to the border with North Macedonia. Once completed, Corridor VIII rail route will connect the Port of Durres to the Bulgarian Black Sea via North Macedonia. TCT delegation highlighted that these important infrastructure investments need to go hand in hand with policy and institutional reforms.
Completion of the institutional framework in four new rail companies (infrastructure manager, passenger transport operations, freight transport operations and maintenance) was designed an absolute priority for 2022. To help reach this goal, TCT delegation shared the practices from the previous restructuring processes in the Western Balkans based on examples from Montenegro, Kosovo*, Serbia and North Macedonia. Representatives of Albanian Railways informed the TCT delegation about the challenges they are facing in this process. Besides capacity building and support provided by the TCT Secretariat, a full time consultancy could assist the authorities in this complex process of restructuring.
Meetings with regional partners focused on rail reforms will continue in the months to come. Sharing best practices from the region and from the EU member states is the way forward so that all regional partners can achieve structural reforms in the rail sector.
Background: Albanian Railways is operating 430 km of railway lines, all of which are single track and diesel. More than 70% of the rail network is in poor condition and some lines are temporary out of operation due to the safety conditions. Based on a July 2021 Law on Separation, the Albanian Railways were divided into four companies which will be responsible for managing the infrastructure, passenger transport operations, freight transport operations and maintenance of rail vehicles.
*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.