The first Western Balkans Rail Summit was held in Belgrade on 13 September 2021, bringing together transportation professionals and government officials from across the region and the European Union.
Co-organized by the EU’s Permanent Secretariat of the Transport Community, the European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), and held under the auspices of the Ministry of Construction, Transport and Industry of the Republic of Serbia, the purpose of the summit was to develop plans for bringing Balkan railway networks up to modern European standards.
Summit participants identified a number of priority areas for the future development of a more modern railway system in the Balkans: establishing high-speed rail connections between major cities; digitalizing the flow of information across national rail networks to improve interoperability and the flow of passengers and commercial freight; integrating existing Western Balkan rail networks with those of EU member states; and creating greener, more sustainable rail industries.
Electrification of Balkan rail networks will be a major task for the region’s rail industry. Currently, 75% of total train-kilometers in the EU are electrified, compared to less than 35% in the Balkans.