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TIRANA (Albania), May 10 (SeeNews) – The European Union (EU) said it granted 35.4 million euro ($42 million) to the Albanian government to back a 90.3 million euro project for the rehabilitation of the Tirana-Durres rail section and the construction of a new rail link to the Tirana International Airport.
The grant was extended through the Western Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF) to complement a 36.9 million euro loan offered by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the EU delegation office in Albania said in a press release late on Wednesday.
“The EBRD, the EU and its partners are stepping up their support for strategic transport links in Albania,” the statement said, following the signing of an agreement between the director for enlargement at the European Commission Christian Danielsson, EBRD’s head of Tirana office Matteo Colangeli, and Albania’s minister of infrastructure Damian Gjiknuri.
The funds will serve to modernise more than 34 km of the existing railway line between Tirana and Durres on the Adriatic coast,” the statement noted, adding that Durres is the country’s largest port and an important regional hub for international trade. Furthermore, the financing will help to build a new 7.4 km rail link, which will connect both cities to Rinas International Airport.
The state-owned Albanian Railways is already inviting pre-qualification bids for the two projects. The closing date for submitting applications is May 31 and the construction works must be completed in 30 months from start.
The railway upgrade in Albania is part of a larger initiative that aims to support connectivity in the region. The EBRD announced in December 2017 that it had committed 190.5 million euro in loans for major railway improvements in the Western Balkans. The EU is providing over 120 million euro in grants to ensure these projects can be carried out.
To date, the EBRD has invested almost 1 billion euro in some 80 projects in Albania.
($ = 0.8433 euro)