The Slovenia Times

Slovenia and Serbia set to improve rail links


Slovenia and Serbia will give an initiative to create a joint task force with Croatia, Austria and Italy to explore ways to speed up railway traffic between the countries. This was agreed as Infrastructure Ministers Alenka Bratušek hosted her Serbian counterpart Goran Vesić in Ljubljana on 3 April.

After their meeting in Bled, the ministers went on to meet the management of the Slovenian Railways in Ljubljana to discuss how to improve rail links between the two countries.

There is currently no passenger train service between Ljubljana and Belgrade, but the officials will examine whether a night train could be reintroduced between the two capitals via Zagreb.

They also want to boost cooperation with Italy, Austria and Croatia. "We've agreed to propose a joint body to see whether we can increase and, above all, speed up cargo and passenger transport on railways," Bratušek told reporters in Bled.

This body is to coordinate railway reconstruction works and draw up train schedules, as well as carry out other activities aimed at improving the speeds of railway connections, said Vesić.

He believes this to be important for all the countries they want to involve, as it would improve connections, passenger services and cargo transport.

Vesić expressed satisfaction that Slovenia and Serbia share the view that transport development must focus on railways because it is more environmentally friendly, faster and has the backing of the EU.

It is key for Serbia to get connected with Europe via corridors that cross Slovenia, he said.

The Serbian minister would like the journey between Ljubljana and Belgrade to be reduced to two hours, although this is impossible at the moment.

Serbia has already built 85 kilometres of fast tracks and is currently building 108 kilometres of fast tracks toward Budapest and plans to build another 228 kilometres in the south of the country, Vesić said.

Slovenia is investing in upgrading its railways as well. Bratušek said the country will have spent over €420 million on railway reconstruction by the end of the year.

European railway corridors are being prioritised, with Bratušek pointing to the construction of a new track connecting the port city of Koper and the inland hub of Divača.

The upgrade follows EU rules under which passenger trains travel at 160 kilometres an hour. "This is the speed we are talking about, when we talk about fast trains," she said, adding that this was also the case in other EU countries.

Meanwhile, Serbia is building railways capable to speeds of up 200km/h. While Bratušek pointed out to Vesić that travel speeds in other countries will be limited to 160km/h, he said that the fast train between Belgrade and Budapest, which will start running in 2025, will travel at 200km/h in Serbia and 140km/h in Hungary. "But it will still be faster than now and we need that."

Vesić believes that speed will not be as important as the fact that trains may no longer have to stop at the border. To make this possible, Serbian border officers might be stationed in Budapest and their Hungarian counterparts in Belgrade. "But we'll find solutions to this when we get there," he added.


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