The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the European Union (EU) and its partners are stepping up their support for strategic transport links in Albania. The Western Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF) has made available up to €35.5 million in grants to complement an EBRD loan of up to €36.9 million.
A signing ceremony in Tirana was attended by Damian Gjiknuri, Minister of Infrastructure and Energy and Erjon Luci, Deputy Minister of Finance and Economy on behalf of the Albanian Government, Christian Danielsson, Director General for Enlargement, DG NEAR, European Commission and Matteo Colangeli, EBRD’s head of Tirana office.
The WBIF is a joint initiative of the European Commission, international financial institutions, bilateral donors and beneficiary governments to support strategic investments in energy, environment, social and transport sectors in the region.
The funds will serve to modernize more than 34 km of the existing railway line between Tirana and Durres on the Adriatic coast. Durres is the country’s largest port and an important regional hub for international trade. Furthermore, the finance will help to construct a new 7.4kim-long rail link, which will connect both cities to Rinas International Airport.
This strategic infrastructure project in Albania is expected to make a tangible difference both to people and businesses across the region. It improves people’s everyday lives by offering a shorter, safer journey on a key route, while also unlocking new trade opportunities for local businesses. Lastly, it promotes a shift from road services to lower-carbon rail services, thereby supporting the long-term goal of building green, sustainable and integrated economies in the Western Balkans.
The railway upgrade in Albania is part of a larger initiative that aims to support connectivity in the region. The EBRD announced in December 2017 that it had committed €190.5 million in loans for major railway improvements in the Western Balkans. The EU is providing over €120 million in grants to ensure these projects can be carried out.
To date, the EBRD has invested almost €1 billion in some 80 projects in Albania.