Financial agreement signed for Bar-Vrbnica railway reconstruction in Montenegro

Financial agreement signed for Bar-Vrbnica railway reconstruction in Montenegro


On 29 May, a €75.5 million package for the reconstruction of the railway section between Bar, Podgorica and Vrbnica was signed. The package covers support for project preparation, supervision and implementation. The EU is providing two grants totaling €35.5 million as part of the Team Europe approach, while EIB provides a loan of €40 million. The Government of Montenegro is contributing with €4.5 million from its own resources.

This investment will improve rail capacity, efficiency and safety, benefiting over 1 million passengers a year and international freight traffic. The project will also promote a modal shift from road to rail, contributing to a more sustainable transport system in the country. The project will involve rehabilitating a 20 km single-track rail section between Lutovo and Bioče and rebuilding 13 steel bridges and eight tunnels (with a total length of around 2.6 km). In addition, rolling stock workshops and depots in Podgorica, Bar and Nikšić will be modernised.

Oana Cristina Popa, Ambassador of the European Union to Montenegro, said that this event is a perfect occasion to recall that Montenegro’s EU integration is much more than a process of closing chapters or approximating laws. “Fundamentally, it is about advancing people’s rights and freedoms, and enabling them to lead healthy, safe and fulfilling lives. The EU, as Team Europe, continues to support economic prosperity and further development of Montenegro’s economy and its connectivity with EU member states. In addition, our support will help Montenegro to transition towards greener and more sustainable transport modes,” the EU Ambassador said.

Kyriacos Kakouris, EIB Vice-President, said: “The upgrade and extension of rail transport infrastructure is a priority both for the European Union and the Government of Montenegro, as it is crucial for regional integration in the Western Balkans. This project builds on the EIB’s previous support for the rail section between Bar and Vrbnica — the main railway line in Montenegro — but also our recent investments in strategic railway corridors in Serbia, North Macedonia and Albania, aiming to provide better and faster links within the region and with the European Union. In this way, we are expanding multimodal transport options, contributing to a cleaner environment and better trade.”

Novica Vuković, Minister of Finance of Montenegro: “Our goal, in partnership with the EIB, is to foster the development of a better, more efficient, and safer infrastructure. This will ultimately enhance connectivity and accelerate Montenegro’s economic growth.”

Filip Radulović, Minister of Transport and Maritime Affairs of Montenegro: “Through the strong support of the EU and the EIB in financing the improvement of railway infrastructure, Montenegro is on the safe way to create a transport system that will be compatible with the transport system of the EU, with the tendency of further modernisation, so that our country is ready to comply with the EU standards related to the railway traffic.”

This project has been identified as a Flagship 2 – Connecting North to South in the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans 2021-2027. For more details, see the Spring 2024 factsheet on Rail Rout 4 Bar-Vrbnica.

Railway Bar-Vrbnica, September 2023 (WBIF)


WBIF 15th Anniversary 2009-2024

This year marks the 15th anniversary of WBIF. Since 2009, over €3.7 billion in EU and bilateral donor grants have been allocated for infrastructure and private sector projects for a total estimated investment of €31 billion – equivalent to one-third of the GDP of the entire Western Balkans. WBIF supports the ambitious Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans in sustainable transport, clean energy, environment and climate, digital future, human capital and private sector competitiveness, building on the Connectivity Agenda (2015 - 2020) focused on transport and energy infrastructure. The new Growth Plan for the Western Balkans, adopted in November 2023, will accelerate the implementation of fundamental reforms with the potential to double the size of the Western Balkan economies within the next 10 years.

So far, under the EIP, 59 flagship investments are bringing tangible benefits to the region, such as: • 2,000 MW additional capacity in renewable energy • 400 km of railway lines rehabilitated • 170 km of motorways built • Clean drinking water for 825,000 people • 200,000 children enrolled in EU-supported schools • 350,000 people with access to internet • 343,000 MSMEs supported with access to finance.