30 years later, North Macedonia finally builds railway to Bulgaria


It’s been 30 years in the making, but finally, North Macedonia has begun building a railway linking it to Bulgaria.

Part of Pan-European Corridor VIII, the line will cover 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) from the Albanian port of Durres, which has sea connections to the Italian port of Bari, to Bulgaria’s ports of Varna and Burgas in the east.

The prime ministers of North Macedonia and Bulgaria, Dimitar Kovacevski and Galab Donev attended the launch ceremony Saturday near the city of Kumanovo.

Here they secured their commitment that the rail link between the two neighbours will be completed by 2030, reports MyMotherLode.

“This project has been standing still for 30 years. The railway called hope, as characterised by the media, is completely accurate,” Kovacevski, North Macedonia’s prime minister, said.

He added that there was “skepticism and disbelief” that the joint project with Bulgaria would ever happen due to how long it has taken to get off the ground.

While Bulgaria’s part is completed, just single-track lines exist in Albania and North Macedonia with connections missing at the western and eastern ends of the corridor.

The railway will feature two parts – the Eastern End and Western End. The first involves 89 kilometers (55 miles) of tracks within North Macedonia and will be completed by 2025.

This includes 5.5 kilometers (3.4 miles) of tunnels, railway bridges, over- and underpasses, and railway stations, as well as a new signaling and telecommunications system.

The second part in the west will feature a section to the border with Albania.

It is expected that the railway will increase annual freight volume by 20 per cent by 2030 and provide access to modern means of transport to more than 350,000 people. Additionally, time travel will be reduced, as well as air and noise pollution.