The modernization of the railway is in front of Montenegro

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This year, a new agreement with WBIF and the European Investment Bank (EIB) is expected to be signed, worth EUR 80 million, which will finance the rehabilitation of 20 kilometers of the Bar railway, the rehabilitation of 13 bridges, eight tunnels, and the equipping and modernization of all depots and workshops for train maintenance.

This is what State Secretary in the Ministry of Capital Investments, Dajana Perković, told the Mina-business agency.

As she stated, the Ministry of Capital Investments acted concretely and urgently in order to solve the problems faced by companies from the railway sector, first through the allocation of additional funds from the budget, and in addition they are considering possible models of financial support for those companies.

At the proposal of that department, the Government adopted the Program for the construction, maintenance, reconstruction and modernization of railway infrastructure for this year at its session on March 16.

– Works are continuing, which will have a direct impact on increasing the safety of the infrastructure and will enable a reduction in the detention of trains in the border zone. Namely, from the funds of the Western Balkans Fund (WBIF), the works on the rehabilitation of eight tunnels towards the Bar railway are being completed, and the adaptation of the Bijelo Polje station building is also being completed, in which the state authorities and the railway companies of Montenegro and Serbia will work together on border procedures. , with an approximate start from mid-May this year – said Perković.

As she stated, in the part of ongoing infrastructure maintenance, significant improvements in the safety and regularity of trains are expected, because this budget provided EUR 3.5 million more for that purpose.

– Let me remind you that at the end of last year, the Government approved an additional EUR 3.9 million for the urgent procurement of materials and equipment for the rehabilitation of weak points on the infrastructure, which will be implemented during this year – added Perković.

She also mentioned that a credit arrangement was signed between the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Railway Infrastructure (ŽICG) for the financing of the purchase of track maintenance machinery and new equipment for the auxiliary train used to eliminate the consequences of accidents and accidents, in the amount up to 11 million EUR.

– The procurement of mechanization and new equipment for the auxiliary train will be realized after more than 40 years of exploitation of the existing equipment, which will significantly increase the efficiency and quality of works during the maintenance of the railway infrastructure and the ability to quickly eliminate traffic jams and the consequences of accidents and incidents on the public railway network – said Perković.
Also, the new mechanization and equipment will enable ŽICG to offer services to other foreign railways and industrial railways in the sphere of track maintenance and thus generate additional income that would be used for the procurement of missing equipment on the railway.

In addition to these activities, Perković said that they are simultaneously working on the realization of significant investments in the reconstruction of railway infrastructure.

– This year, a new agreement is expected to be signed with WBIF and the European Investment Bank (EIB), worth EUR 80 million, which will finance the rehabilitation of 20 kilometers of the Bar railway, the rehabilitation of 13 bridges, eight tunnels, and the equipping and modernization of all depots and workshops. For train maintenance – specified Perković.

According to her, in this way, the continuation of the works on the part of the railway from the Trebešica station towards Bar, which has not been overhauled and where the train speeds are the least, will be ensured.

– We understand the dissatisfaction of the passengers due to the downtime on the network, but the speeds are determined so that traffic safety is primarily taken into account – stated Perković.

Commenting on the fact that we still have old trains, which are often late, and railway infrastructure that needs renovation, Perković announced that the obsolescence of rolling stock is indeed a limiting factor in improving the quality of passenger transport services.

– What we have done in this short time in the field of passenger transportation is to increase the state subsidy this year by EUR 300,000. Railway Transport (ŽPCG) has not been operating at a loss for two years and is fulfilling the obligation of public passenger transport. We are aware of the age of the vehicle fleet and that is why we support the initiative and make significant efforts to find a model in communication with the Agency for the Protection of Competition in order to continue with certain steps in the direction of solving this issue – said Perković.

She emphasized that there are certain limitations when it comes to issuing state guarantees for the purchase of new rolling stock, noting that she will not give up and that she will continue to work diligently on this in the coming period and look for possible solutions.

Perković said that in the segment of goods transportation, the carrier Montecargo ended last year with a profit after several years, but new investments are needed in that segment as well.

– Also, in order to support this company, the budget law for this year provides for the issuance of state guarantees in the amount of EUR 3 million for general overhauls of locomotives and deficient series of wagons for the transport of goods – explained Perković.

Commenting on the fact that in the last period criticism could be heard from certain addresses that the relevant Ministry does not take care of the railway system, Perković said that she would not agree with that, especially if you look at everything that has been realized in such a short time.

– We have recognized the problems that this system has been facing for years, but we acted concretely and urgently, in the first place precisely through the allocation of additional funds from the budget – said Perković.

When it comes to recapitalization, which is presented as a life-saving solution in the work of those companies, she explained that such a decision should be made on the basis of serious analysis, and not as a hasty and forced solution that will satisfy current ambitions, without a sustainable business perspective.

– This is a large and complex system with around 1.7 thousand employees and as the relevant minister and Deputy Prime Minister, Ervin Ibrahimović, has pointed out on several occasions, our concern is to find the right and sustainable model of functioning for all four companies – announced Perković. .

At the initiative of some companies to independently allocate funds and carry out the necessary analyzes that would precede the recapitalization, the Ministry, in order to rationalize the entire process, proposed the engagement of consultants through the already existing support mechanisms that Montenegro has from the Delegation of the European Union (EU) in Montenegro.

– In this way, with significant savings of our own funds, we will get a comprehensive analysis of all companies, which should provide inputs for further action in the direction of improving the condition of these companies. In this regard, the project assignment on this topic has been completed, we are expecting the arrival of consultants who will deal with this topic in the coming period – said Perković.

She stated that she believes that everyone is aware of the fact that these are companies where problems have been accumulating for years, and it would be extremely populist and frivolous to promise instant solutions.

– Our task, I am repeating, is to propose sustainable, stable and long-term solutions for all four companies, and in that part I must emphasize how closely connected they are in business and dependent on each other. Apart from everything that has been done in this short time, the Ministry is currently considering models of financial support for all four companies, which is not easy considering the limited possibilities in relation to the Law on State Aid – explained Perković.
Along with that, as she stated, a very important segment is the cooperation with international financial institutions, through whose credit lines a large number of railway infrastructure projects have been realized so far.

The Ministry Is currently working on the conception of requests or projects according to the available EU funds, to secure a larger investment package of EUR 150 million.

– When we talk about international development projects, it was officially announced that the Podgorica – Nikšić – Čapljina line will be included in the TEN-T extended comprehensive network for the Western Balkans by the end of the year, after several years of negotiations with the EU. In this way, conditions will be created for applying for EU grants for the production of technical documentation – Perković believes.

She said that it is high time to approach this important segment in the field of traffic with special attention.

– We have intensified communication with the representatives of the railway companies and, in cooperation with other institutions, we hope to have significant support in order to jointly improve the functioning of the railway system – concluded Perković.

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