Serbia is intensifying its focus on infrastructure development by increasing the safety, efficiency, environmental sustainability, and regional connectivity of its railway through an upgrade of 3,735 km of this network.

Phase 1 of the Multi-Phase Programmatic Approach for Serbia Railway Sector Modernization Project was approved on March 17 by the World Bank Board of Directors, providing USD 62.5 million of the program’s overall financing envelope of USD 400 million, the World Bank announces.

The World Bank is cooperating with the French Development Agency with a 50 percent joint co-financing of Phase 1 – taking advantage of aligned priorities such as green transport and regional integration and bringing the total investment for this phase to USD 125 million.

– Serbia’s rail network is a major asset for the country with the potential to play a strategic role in the nation’s growth and job opportunities – said Stephen Ndegwa, World Bank Country Manager for Serbia.

The bank says that, according to preliminary assessments, the portion of the project that will lead to mitigation or adaptation benefits for project beneficiaries – also known as climate co-benefits – is expected to exceed 89 percent, amounting to USD 111.28 million.

Overall, the program focuses on three key outcomes: an increase in network utilization of 5 percent; a reduction of fatalities on the rail network by 23 percent; and a 10 percent increase in the market share of national cargo rail over the next 10 years.

With plans to invest EUR 3.3 billion in its rail network over the next decade, Serbia aims to fully electrify its rail line tracks, fully implement the European Railway Traffic Management System, remove speed restrictions, improve freight line capacity on the core network, and enhance the management of rail assets, the World Bank adds.