Serbia is to further upgrade its railway infrastructure thanks to a €25 million loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Srbija Voz, Serbia’s national rail passenger operator, will use the loan to build a new regional depot in Niš and rehabilitate two existing ones in Zemun and Sombor.

The facility, guaranteed by the Republic of Serbia, will enable Srbija Voz to finance not only building works for the depots, which are used for maintenance of its rolling stock, but also the procurement of new maintenance equipment and works supervision. The modernisation of maintenance practices will increase efficiency of passenger services.

As part of the project, Srbija Voz will also work on skills development and support new dual education programmes, and further improve its corporate governance.

Matteo Colangeli, EBRD Director for the Western Balkans, said: “The rail sector is a key priority for the EBRD in the Western Balkans as we support countries in the region in upgrading their infrastructure and services. This will help to unlock economic opportunities, strengthen regional integration and promote a more sustainable model of transport. Srbija Voz is a long-standing partner of the Bank and we are pleased to expand our cooperation with this important project, both in terms of modernising its maintenance practices and building skills.”

Ivan Bulajić, Acting Director General of Srbija Voz, stressed the importance of this new investment for the company’s future: “This new arrangement with our EBRD partners is a natural continuation of an already excellent cooperation through which we are expanding our fleet and improving our rolling stock maintenance. As new trains are delivered and the expansion of our Zemun facility nears completion, we will now shift focus to other regions of Serbia. Most importantly we will construct a key new maintenance facility in Niš to prepare for the opening of the Belgrade-Niš high-speed railway line, as well as reconstruct other regional depots.”

Srbija Voz has been a client of the EBRD since its unbundling from the former railway company JSC Serbian Railways in 2015. Through joint projects, EBRD financing has helped Srbija Voz to modernise five electric trains, to construct a new technical passenger station in Zemun, which included an IT upgrade and a new auto-ticketing system and, in the latest project, to buy 18 new electric trains.

The EBRD has also supported projects in the Serbian railway sector with other state-owned companies, investing around €500 million so far, with another €500 million or so in the pipeline. The current total EBRD investment in the railway sector across the six Western Balkans countries amounts to €1 billion, with a significant pipeline for the future.

To date, the EBRD has invested more than €8.6 billion in various sectors of Serbia’s economy.