The reconstruction of the Zagreb - Belgrade railway line will be a joint project between Croatia and Serbia. This is the crucial part of the memorandum of understanding between the Ministry of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure of the Republic of Croatia and the Ministry of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure of the Republic of Serbia on cooperation to promote the efficiency of railway traffic. The document will be signed later today in Belgrade, as part of a bilateral meeting between Croatian Transport Minister Oleg Butković and Serbian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Civil Engineering, Transport and Infrastructure Zorana Mihajlović,reports Novi Liston March 9, 2018.
Butković is the first minister in the Andrej Plenković’s government to go to Belgrade for an official visit. In addition to the railway line, the talks will also cover the cooperation between the two countries in the use of EU funds, including for projects concerning individual sections of the Zagreb-Belgrade railway line. They will also discuss the possibilities for road traffic development between Croatia and Serbia, as well as the issue of bridges in the border area and the cooperation in inland navigation on the Sava and Danube rivers. One of the projects involves deepening of the Danube River at Ilok and Vukovar, at the border between the two states.
This will be the first meeting between ministers from two governments after a long time. They will try to establish specific cooperation on a number of infrastructure projects. Regarding the reconstruction of the Zagreb-Belgrade railway line in the total length of 412 kilometres, a consensus has been reached on this project, accompanied by a promise by Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, given during his recent visit to Croatia, that Serbia would work intensively on the reconstruction of its part of the line.
However, the majority of the line is located on the Croatian territory, and certain improvements have already been done, given that the reconstruction of the Okučani-Novska section will soon be completed. The Vinkovci-Tovarnik section was upgraded more than five years ago. The reconstruction of two more sections is currently in the planning phase, financed from European funds. Croatia expects that about 500 million euro from the European funds will be withdrawn from its part of the Zagreb-Belgrade line.
The common goal of Croatia and Serbia should be to reduce travel time by train from Zagreb to Belgrade from the current six hours to less than three hours, as well as to significantly increase the speed of trains on this line, to an average of approximately 120 to 140 kilometres per hour.
These will be the topics for ministers Butković and Mihajlović to discuss. At the same time, a series of operational meetings between representatives of numerous state-owned companies will also be held. In addition to Transport Minister Butković, the visit will include general managers of Croatian Railways (HŽ) Infrastructure, HŽ Passenger Transport and HŽ Cargo, as well as managers from the Croatian Roads public company and the Croatian Air Control.
After a bilateral meeting between the delegations of Croatia and Serbia, the memorandum will be signed, followed by a joint press conference.
Today's meeting should become an important milestone in the development of Croatian-Serbian relations with the aim of better transport-linking and submitting joint projects for funding by EU bodies.
Interestingly, the two countries could also cooperate in exchanging experiences about the cooperation with China. Chinese company China Bridge and Road Corporation, which has submitted the cheapest offer for the construction of the Pelješac Bridge in Croatia, has already built a 1.5-kilometre-long Borča-Zemun bridge in Serbia.
Translatedfrom Novi List(reported by Darko Pajić).