Albania has received a 35.5 million euro grant from the European Union – via its Western Balkans Investment Fund (WBIF) – and a 35.9 million-euro loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to upgrade a rail line from the capital Tirana to the sea port of Durrës. The money will also contribute to a new stretch of track will linking Tirana’s airport with the centre of the Albanian capital.
Albania’s Minister of Infrastructure Damian Gjiknuri and the European Commission’s director general for enlargement, Christian Danielsson, said at the signing ceremony – which took place on Europe Day – that the deal showed how much the EU “cares for aspiring members like Albania.”
The WBIF is a joint initiative of the European Commission, international financial institutions, bilateral donors and beneficiary governments to support strategic investments in energy, environment, social and transport sectors in the region.
The funds will serve to modernise more than 34 km of the existing railway line between Tirana and Durrës, the country’s largest port and an important regional hub for international trade. The 7.4 km rail link to Rinas International Airport is long overdue and will provide a welcome boost to the Albanian capital.
This strategic infrastructure project in Albania is expected to make a tangible difference both to people and businesses across the region. It improves people’s everyday lives by offering a shorter, safer journey on a key route, while also unlocking new trade opportunities for local businesses. Lastly, it promotes a shift from road services to lower-carbon rail services, thereby supporting the long-term goal of building green, sustainable and integrated economies in the Western Balkans.