The grant agreement for the section of the Belgrade-Niš railway, worth 174.6 million euros within the railway corridor 10, was signed today. The project is part of the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans and the Team Europe Initiative and contributes to the Global Gateway strategy.

Only a month after the first grant was signed, EIB Global signed a second EU grant for €174.6 million for the subsection Paraćin – Trupale – Međurovo rail route, part of an EU financial package totalling €2.2 billion for the Belgrade-Niš section of the Railway Corridor X. The first grant under the Western Balkans Investment Framework (€82.8 million) was signed in February 2023. The funds will enable the upgrade and modernisation of 230 km of railway. This will enable travel speeds of up to 200 km/h between Belgrade and Niš, increase trade flows and stimulate economic growth along the route.

The signing ceremony was attended by Serbia’s Prime Minister Ana Brnabić, EIB Vice-President Lilyana Pavlova, Minister for European Integration Tanja Miščević, Minister of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure Goran Vesić, EU Ambassador to Serbia Emanuele Giaufret and representatives of Serbian Railways. This is a flagship project of the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans, and a Team Europe Initiative. It also benefits from EU technical assistance in preparing documentation that satisfies EU economic, environmental and social safeguards and procurement rules.

Lilyana Pavlova, Vice-President of the European Investment Bank (EIB) responsible for the Western Balkans, explained, “As of today, we have already signed two grants for this important project within a single month. This proves the commitment of the European Union and its institutions to delivering new, upgraded railways between two pivotal cities in Serbia, linking the country to the region — and further to the European Union, as this route is part of the pan-European Railway Corridor X. By mobilising extensive financial and technical assistance within Team Europe, we want to help Serbia integrate into other European rail networks and provide multimodal transportation options for the benefit of its people, environment and economy.”

Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia Ana Brnabić said: „We are truly grateful to our partners from the European Investment Bank for supporting our strategic goal, which is the EU integration, and for supporting economic growth and productivity of Serbia by providing necessary funds for various infrastructure projects with regional impact. One such example is the Belgrade-Niš section and the Paraćin–Međurovo subsection for which the investment grant has been signed today. Its construction will facilitate traveling for people in Serbia and better connection with the region.”

Minister of European Integration Tanja Miščević said today that the EU grant in the amount of EUR 174.6 million allocated for this part of the railway will contribute to a significant improvement in the safety of passenger traffic in Serbia, shortening the length of journeys, faster transportation of goods and reducing the costs of maintaining the railway infrastructure.

“Due to all of that, travelling and transporting goods by train will be more attractive to citizens and the economy. And in this way, our country, in partnership with the EU and with its support, realises its effort to be infrastructurally connected with neighbouring countries and with the entire European Union and thereby contributes to the overall development of Serbia”, stressed Minister Miščević.

The grant signed today is part of an EU financial package of €2.2 billion to modernise the Belgrade-Niš railway, encompassing up to €600 million in EU grants. It is a clear demonstration of the rapid progress made by Team Europe in funding this flagship railway project. The package also includes a €1.1 billion EIB loan and a €550 million loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Minister of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure Goran Vesić thanked the EIB for supporting Serbia’s railway projects and underlined that this section will be a priority for the country going forward.

EU Ambassador to Serbia Emanuele Giaufret explained, “The new EU-financed railway changes realities on the ground in a positive way and leads us to a new future. While it currently takes almost a whole working day to travel from Belgrade to Nis it will –once the project is finished- take only one hour and 40 minutes. This is the time it may take to watch a nice film while travelling.  This project enables a future in which people are closer together, better connected within Serbia but also within Europe and the region. This new railway will create many new jobs and stimulate economic growth.”

In the last 10 years, the EIB has supported the rail sector with more than €39 billion globally, helping to construct or upgrade almost 2 000 km of tracks and 304 stations. As a lead financier of strategic railway routes in the Western Balkans, the EIB has invested over €1.2 billion in the region’s rail sector, supporting regional cooperation and connectivity.