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March 25th. ATA reported that the rehabilitation of Vore-Shkoder-Hani i Hotit railway line is included in the projects of the Albanian government in the context of the Stability Pact for Southeast Europe. The finance for this investment, which also covers the drafting of the project for Milot-Rreshen railway line, with a total cost of about 79,4 million USD, will be proposed in the Donors' Conference for the Stability Pact, expected to be held in Brussels the coming week. The rehabilitation of this segment is expected to take 24 months. Out of the total cost of the project, worth 79,4 million dollars, the cost of building is envisaged to be 77,9 million dollars, the the cost for the study of the project 0,5 million dollars and the cost of implementation of the project is envisaged to be 1 million dollars.
January 1st. ATA reported that the "Infra Trans Project" has recently completed a preliminary study on the possibility and advantages of a railway connection between Albania and Kosova. The railway segment from Rreshen, Albania to Prizren, Kosova will be nearly 100 km long, of which 83km is from Rreshen to Morine, and another 17 km from Morine to Prizren.
December. HSH reported that 8 Austrian and 6 Italian Passenger carriages are now in service. No further work has taken place on restoring the line north of Shkodër to Hani-i-Hotit border as there is currently very little traffic potential on this line.
28th November. ATA reports that during January 2000, the whole telephone system on the Durrës-Tiranë line be reconstructed with a fund of 1.8 billion liras, granted by the Italian Government. A part of this fund will be used to improve the signalling between Tiranë to Vorë and to rehabilitate the infrastructure of the station in Tiranë. With funds from the Albanian Government and with the aid from governments of some neigbouring countries, Albanian railways will take another view different from that of the last years. On 27th November Italy and Austria handed over eight passenger carriages.
1st November. A new passenger timetable came into operation. This restores the traditional pattern of two return trains per day between Tiranë and each of Shkodër, Pogradec and Vlorë. Trains no longer divide en-route.
16th October. ATA reports that Elbasan station is to be rebuilt as part of a UNHCR project.
15th October. ATA reports that refurbishment of some passenger carriages has taken place. 900 square metres of glass has been used to replace windows also some interior lighting has been replaced. Just under 60 passenger carriages are serviceable. 6 carriages from Austria are expected to arrive by the end of the year with 39 more to follow. Italy is to donate a further 12 carriages which are expected to arrive soon. A further 10 carriages will be paid for by an Albanian government fund.
September. The UK publication "Todays Railways" has a report from Austria that 45 second-hand OBB passenger vehicles have been sent to Albania by rail to Trieste and then to Durres by ferry. The carriages are said to have been traded in exchange for scrap metal in the form of the derelict locomotives and rolling stock. One set of carriages will be repainted in HSH livery, the rest retaining OBB colours.
June 25th. ATA reports that a strike by Railway employees in July has been averted. " Trade Union of the Railways and Transport will not start the strike in the beginning of July. This is announced by the representatives of this Trade Union during a meeting held on Friday with the Minister of Public Affairs and Transport, Ingrid Shuli. "200 million lek subventions will be given to the railways employees by the part of the Albanian Government. They will be distributed as rewards to them, and the distribution procedures will be checked in order to avoid the abuses", stated Shuli. Representatives of the Railway Transport of Trade Union, which represent 70% of the Albanian Railway employees, asked a special treatment for their employees and a special status, as well." (ATA report).
May 12th. ATA reports that up to 12th May about 16 thousand Kosovar refugees have been transported from Mjedë station to other cities of Albania.
April 1st. ATA report: "The refugees coming from the trouble spots of Kosova will have at their disposal a passengers train at the Mjedė station to be transported inside the country. Petraq Skrame, official at the Railway General Department, told ATA that a passengers train with seven carriages on Thursday will have as destination the Vlorė city. Dependant on the requests it may travel twice a day with nearly 1.500 refugees. According to Skrame this train will constantly be at the disposal of the refugees' movement inside the country. (ATA report). ATA later reported that a train for refugees travelled from Mjedė to Vlorė on Thursday 2nd April arriving in Vlorė during the night of 2nd/3rd.
March 29th. All available public and private transport has been mobilised to help convey refugees from Kosova to temporary accomodation throughout Albania. Town buses from many areas are being sent to Kukes near the Kosova border. One extra train has been added to the existing two that operate on Tiranė - Shkodėr line.
March 23rd. The road segment Milot-Lezhe, considered as a most important part of North-Southern Corridor, actually is in the phase of railway track construction and the pavement process, informed sources from the General Road Directorate. According to the same sources several operations took place in this road segment. The rehabilitation process of this road section is undertaken by the Italian company "Falcone" and it is financed by World Bank with a value of 4.7 million dollars. Milot-Lezhe highway is 12 long and will have four devisions. (ATA report)
March 17th. In two weeks railway transport fulfilled 80% of incomes of January-February period. The railway transport marked a considerable increase in the first two weeks of March. Its value is nearly 13,4 million lek, while in the period of January-February are realized only 17,2 million lek. According to the General Director of Railway Transport Leonard Burnaci within these weeks are transported nearly 12 000 tons goods, half of which are covered by fuels and coal transported for Albpetrol company. Restarting of the work process of this branch open newly works possibility for the Albanian Railways, which predicted an average transport rhythm of 1.000 tons per day. Beside the successful transport of two electric transformers of 114 tons each for Albanian Power Corporation the transport of motorized equipment and NATO containers toward the southeastern railway stations is predicted in future.(ATA report)
March 10th. ATA reported that motor vehicles and containers carrying military material will be taken from Durres to railway stations in southeastern part of the country. The director of Railways Leonard Burnaci told ATA that NATO specialists in Albania have demanded confirmation from Albanian Railways for the transportation, by presenting the characteristics of the materials to be transported. A group of specialists of railways is studying the itinerary to be followed, taking into account the height of the tunnels, the bridges and the turns during the way. According to specialists, this kind of transport is completely realizable. According to Burnaci, after the successful transportation of two transformers for the hydro power station of Fierza, the transportation for the account of NATO is a sign of faith of the foreigners in the possibilities of the Albanian Railways and a new experience in the combined transport. (ATA report)
January 1999. HSH has released freight traffic data to the ATA press agency. In 1998, the Albanian Railways transported 305 000 tons of commodities, as compared with the previous year, this figure registers a growth of 10 per cent. During the past year, tanker wagons have transported from Ballsh to state and private consumers about 74 000 tons of fuel. 45 000 tons of chrome have been transported within the country for Albkrom, while 15 000 other tons have been transported by train in the port of Durres to be loaded then on ships for other countries. Private building business has chosen Albanian Railways as a partner for the transport of 52 000 tons of inerts, mainly gravel and stones, whereas 45 000 other tons of inerts have been transported by trains to different stations to be used for railway track. The transport of coals also takes an important place in the volume of the work in the Albanian railways, with 63 000 tons, a part of which has arrived in the port of Durres to be taken to the respective destinations. (from ATA report)
31st December 1998. A new passenger timetable has been introduced (from 1st November 1998). See the timetable pages for details. The main changes to the previous timetable are that many trains run to later timings, a few trains run to earlier timings; the daily Pogradec-Tiranė-Pogradec train runs from Pogradec to Rrogozhinė only with a connecting service from Rrogozhinė to Tiranė, in the return direction a connection is made at Rrogozhinė from a Tiranė to Vlorė train. The Fier-Ballsh shuttle trains have revised service numbers as well as new timings which now make connections at Fier to and from Tiranė-Vlorė services. The local trains running between Tiranė and Durrės have their timings changed considerably. The summer-only Plazh-Tiranė train from Durrės beach is not shown in this winter timetable. The overall timetable now has a later start time for the first services of the day and in many cases the evening trains finish at earlier timings; this results in a shorter working day for passenger operation in many areas.
December 1998. There have been various meetings with representatives of the FYRO Macedonian Government and International Development funds (notably from the USA) on the subject of the "Corridor 8" transport plan to link Albanian and FYRO Macedonian railways. This short link will run from the Albanian system near Lin (on Lake Ohrid,to the north of Pogradec) to Struga in FYRO Macedonia. It now seems that this project will go ahead, but a timescale has not yet been published.
11th September 1998. ATA reported that representatives of the General
Motors U.S. Company started a working visit to Albania recently as part of the
Initiative for the Development of the South Balkans. They held talks with the
Minister of Finance Arben Malaj and the Minister for Public Works and Transport
Gaqo Apostoli and presented concrete projects. The projects were divided in two
stages for the short and medium term. The first includes security and release of
a number of locomotives for the Albanian railway. The second one foresees the
use of a soft loan provided by the Japanese government for new locomotives for
the Albanian railway manufactured by the General Motors. The Japanese credit
with a two to three percent annual interest rate payable in 30 years. The
necessity to have such locomotives is justified by the fact that Albania,
Macedonia and Bulgaria are going to be linked by a new railway as part of the
framework of the eighth corridor project.
19th August 1998. ATA (Albanian Telegraph Agency/ATSH) reported that two freight trains collided on Wednesday 19th August on the Rrogozhinė - Durrės line, 2 km from Lekaj station. The crash between two trains transporting goods, occured at about 13:00 local time. One of the trains, transporting 527 tons of coal, had left Durrės at 11:35 while the second, transporting building materials, had left Rrogozhinė and was directed to Durrės at 12:20. The collision was attributed to a black out of electrical energy, which resulted in interruption of radio communication between the stations of Kavaja and Lekaj. The crash resulted in the death of one of the drivers, who was operating locomotive no. 1546, leaving from Durrės; there were also three heavily damaged wagons. Note that this report from the ATA quotes the locomotive as being "1546", this cannot be correct. It is likely to have been "1046" i.e. T669.1046.
28th July 1998. A new passenger timetable came into operation from 22nd June. The basic service returned to that prior to mid 1996 with two trains each way between Tiranė and each of Shkodėr, Pogradec and Vlorė and a return journey from Elbasan to Tiranė ; three extra return journies between Durrės and Tiranė, also two return shuttles between Fier and Ballsh. Most timings changed and with shorter journey times scheduled over the Tiranė-Vorė-Durrės line following the completion of track refurbishment work. The recently introduced practice of running two trains combined for part of their journies ceased. A summer afternoon direct train from Plazh (Durrės beach) to Tiranė via the Shkozet curve was added to the timetable (this train is believed to have been a regular summer feature for many years, but details are rarely published in the timetables).
10th July 1998. ATA Reported that Albania and Austria had signed recently a cooperation agreement in railway transport in Vienna. The Albanian minister of Transport Gaqo Apostoli, who signed the agreement for the Albanian side, said that this agreement would not only focus on such elements as researches, training, technical assistance, exchange of experience but also in projects of concrete implementation including the rehabilitation of the railway segment Durres-Rrogozhine-Pogradec, Vore-Shkoder-Han i Hotit and Rrogozhine-Vore. The Austrian counterpart Kasper Ainem said that Austria would grant 130 used passengers' wagons, telecommunication and communication systems for the Tirana-Durres railway segment and a considerable quantity of railway tracks. A further report from ATA on 13th July stated the quantities of vehicles involved as "80 second class used coaches and 10-15 locomotive vans".
Summary of News - January to June 1998
In early 1998 the branch from Milot to Rreshen closed following damage during the civil unrest of 1997. The rails were to be used to repair damage to the Shkodėr - Hani-i-Hotit line.
A new timetable came into operation of 1st February. The 0550 Elbasan-Tiranė train ran from Elbasan at 0605 and attached to the 0605 from Shkodėr at Vorė, the two trains running as one combined train to Tiranė. On the afternoon return journey from Tiranė the train waited at Durrės from 14.55 to 16.10 and then ran combined with the afternoon Tiranė-Vlorė train as far as Rrogozhinė. The morning train from Pogradec ran only as far as Rrogozhinė and returned from there to Pogradec at 1133. The afternoon train from Vlorė combined with the afternoon train from Pogradec at Rrogozhinė and the two trains ran as one to Durrės where the Vlorė carriages were detached. Most other trains were re-timed.
On 7th May 1998 the Albanian Telegraph Agency (ATA/ATSH) published an interview with the new General Director of Railways, Leonard Bunaci. He told the ATA that income from the railway is increasing with increased passenger traffic. In April income was 11.7 million lek compared with 7.7. million lek in January. The railway is now in a better competitive position following price rises in fuel for road transport, also measures have been taken to reduce ticketing fraud. A shortage of servicable passenger carriages continues to be a problem, only 50 carriages are running at present. Five supplementary carriages are needed every Tuesday on the Shkodėr-Lac line to meet the demands of Catholic believers who attend religious services in the Church of Lac. Greater difficulties were forseen in summer when additional trains are needed for people coming from Tiranė to the coastal city of Durrės. The government had envisaged to delivery of 58 extra carriages in 1997 but these have so far not arrived.
On 25th May 1998 the ATA reported that a two million USD grant by the
American Government for the technical support of the road and railway
infrastructure in Albania was being delivered. The General Director of Railways,
Leonard Bunaci, told ATA that "half of this assistance is earmarked for the
railway infrastructure." A ship with some machineries and vehicles for railways,
to the tune of 1 million USD, on board had left ten days ago from the U.S. port
of Baltimore. The shipment, which was expected to reach the port of Durres on
May 28 1998 was to be delivered 1996 but it was delayed by the tense situation
in Albania and for technical procedures. For the fiscal year 1997, the U.S
Government envisaged an assistance worth 1.6 million USD. In 1992, the European
Union delivered an aid of 2 million USD, while the Italian state and the World
Bank granted long term credits respectively 6 billion liras and 1 million USD
for the reconstruction of the Durres-Tirane railway line. (ATA Albania Telegraph
Summary of News - July to December 1997
In mid July, service reductions were introduced as a result of a fuel shortage after supplies from the Ballsh oil processing plant were interrupted and the contents of 7 tank wagons of fuel were stolen. 2 trains on the Durrės-Tiranė route, 1 train on the Pogradec line and 1 train on the Shkodėr line were cancelled for an unknown period of time.
The State of Emergency and overnight curfew were lifted on the 24th July following national elections. In the new government Gaqo Apostoli of the Social Democratic Party was appointed as Minister of Public Affairs and Transport .
The Albanian Telegraph Agency reported that following nearly five months interruption, the first train entered Vlorė on Monday 1st September at 13.00. Another train with passengers left Vlorė for Tiranė on the same morning. Railway traffic on the Fier-Vlorė line was reported to have been suspended since the disturbances in March although the same Agency had earlier reported an attack on a passenger train in the Vlorë area in early June.
On 1st November 1997 a timetable revision came into effect. The 0600 from Tiranė to Shkodėr was been retimed to run two hours later, and the 0750 from Tiranė to Vlorė began running ten minutes later from Tiranė to Durrės - both trains leaving Tiranė at 0800 combined as one train as far as Vorė. As a result of this 0550 from Elbasan to Tiranė was retimed 5 minutes later from Sukth to Tiranė.
Resumption of track refurbishment works by the Fersalento company of Lecce, Italy on the Tiranė - Durrės line from mid-November have resulted in the 0610 from Vlorė and 0610 from Pogradec running only as far as Durrės and the 1205 from Tiranė to Vlorė/Pogradec starting from Durrės. Once the work is completed in early 1998 these services will be re-instated.
Public order has continued to be a problem. On 29th July the
Criminal Police of Malesie e Madhe district intercepted a load of 270 metres of
railway track which had been stolen from the line between Shkodėr and Bajzė.
Another 35 metres of railway was damaged earlier at Shtoj village with the aim
of selling them as scrap in Montenegro. On 5th August a further 20 metres of
track near village of Shtoj was damaged by an explosive device. On
17th August more track was stolen from north of Shkodėr when some 400
metres of rails were removed from the Shkodėr-Bajzė line. Also 900 metres of
rails were looted in the Grile area, along with two coils of cable, one with
some 400 metres of telephone cable and another with electric cable.
On 20th August another report of looting of track stated that a further 200 metres of rails from the Shkodėr-Bajzė railway had been removed. The ATA press agency reported the Department of Infrastructure of Albanian Railways as stating that some 11 km of primary line rails and 4.8 km of secondary ones have been looted since March. This looting had also occurred on the Milot-Rreshen line where 1.7 km of rails had been removed along with some 2.4 km of secondary line rails on the Kashar-Tiranė line. In less that 6 months, the Albanian Railways lost around 20 km of rails and 220 km of telephone lines.
On 9th September the police forces of Malesi e Madhe, Northern Albania, have detained a person from Kamic village accused of damaging with TNT the railway between Shkodėr and Bajzė. Also the Shkodėr Police detained another person accused of damage to the railway.
Damage from severe flooding during the night of 20/21 December in the Lezhė area cut services on the Shkodėr line. The Zadrima channel burst its' banks causing damage to about 2.2 km of the Lezhė-Shkodėr line. Some track has also been stolen from the damaged area. The Ministry of Public Works and Transport has allocated 44 Million Lek for repairs and to raise the embankment height by one metre.
Some ex-FS(Italy) passenger carriages have been observed with a new paint scheme consisting of the standard FS grey (as before) with the addition of three horizontal blue stripes along the bodyside (two beneath the windows, the third at the bottom of the bodyside.
In late July meetings were held in Durrės between the Railway Directorate and experts of the European Union PHARE project on the development of the East-West Trans-Balkan Railway Corridor. The project has a budget of 1 million ECU from which 350 000 ECU will be used for the reorganisation of management and for drafting of the railway legislation. It is calculated that for the construction of the railway links from Lini (Qane-e-Thanes) to the Albanian-Macedonian border (3 km), and from Pogradec to Florina(Greece) will cost 136 million US Dollars.
High priority is being given to a project to expand the port of Shengijn. It is hoped that funding will come from the World Bank. The project includes a rail link from Lezhė to the port.
In November the Albanian Telegraph Agency reported that the Hungarian Railway
Transportation company will take over the rehabilitation of the 470 km rail
network. This emerged following a meeting in Tiranė at the Ministry of Public
Affairs and Transportation between the Albanian and Hungarian experts. Hungary
will rehabilitate the entire railway with modern equipment. At present the
company has already completed a project study for the rehabilitation of Albanian
Recent publications and articles on Albanian Railways:
Albania Railway News Archive - January to June 1997
News for archive of older news items:
ERN March 1997
ERN January 1997
ERN December 1996
ERN October 1996
ERN February 1996
ERN September 1995
HSH Index Page
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