Skopje, 15th November 2015 (MIA) – On Sunday, under the promotional train ride from Skopje to Veles, new electric multiple unit train of Macedonian Railways AD Transport was put into function, manufactured by the Chinese Company CRRC, the first out of the of six passenger trains procured through the Government’s Railways Fleet Renewal Project in Macedonia.

New electric motor passenger units with a capacity for 200 passengers are the first new train for the Railways procured after 40 years. It comprises electronic status display for steering, cameras instead of rearview mirrors, system displays for train driver’s cabin, air-conditioned wagons, passenger information systems, vacuum toilets, etc. It is designed in line with the EU technical standards for interoperability.

Ongoing projects on procuring new trains and wagons, overhauling the train stations and the train maintenance depot, as well as reconstructing and building new railroad tracks, as Prime Minister pointed out, are an investment amounting to EUR 600 million in total. Such capital investments in the Railways have not been made for more than 30 years backwards. We will continue with such dynamics in the next period as well, Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski said.

Deputy Prime Minister Zoran Stavreski, Minister of Transport Vlado Misajlovski, representatives of both the Chinese company and Macedonian Railways Transport, as well as the Chinese Ambassador to Macedonia Wen Zhenshun were among the first passengers of the promotional train ride.

Today, as Gruevski stressed, is a day of historic significance for Macedonian railway transportation, bearing in mind that no one has considered to procure new trains for the Macedonian citizens for decades. It is needless to talk too much, since all we should do is to compare the old trains on the rails with the new one commissioned today. The difference is huge, Gruevski said.

The new train, as he pointed out, is the first one out of many new modern trains by which the fleet of Macedonian railways will be renewed, a capital investment of EUR 25 million, provided through the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. New 150 freight wagons were previously procured under this Project, an investment worth EUR 13 million.

The new trains, as Gruevski said, would cover around 60% of the railway lines, meaning more comfortable and better-quality transportation of passengers. The Government is already preparing a plan to procure trains for the remaining 40% railway lines in Macedonia as well. As a continuation of our investments in the Railways, there are preparatory activities for procuring three new locomotives, and we have already concluded agreement for reconstructing the train maintenance depot, Prime Minister said.

Deputy Prime Minister Zoran Stavreski underlined that two billion and 200 million denars for investments in Macedonian Railways are envisaged in the 2016 Budget, or as he said, 15 times more than in 2006.

The objective is for Macedonian Railways to be turned into a modern and functional infrastructure, something that should have been done years ago, however, it is happening now and it must not be further delayed. The results are already visible, we are witness today of how Macedonian railways should look like. This train is a mere segment of the mosaic we are working on, aimed at making Macedonia a modern country, Stavreski said.

CRRC, as Minister Misajlovski said, in line with the Agreement of Macedonian Railways Transport, should deliver another electric multiple unit train by the end of this year, and four diesel trains in the first quarter next year.

Аs of today, Macedonian Railways enter a new era, in which the citizens will have a high-quality, fast and comfort transportation. This train with a capacity for 200 passengers is one of the most modern procured trains, manufactured in compliance with all EU standards, Misaјlovski said. At the same time, by commissioning the new train, as he assessed, what is also significant is that the activities for renewing the Railway Station in Skopje are reaching their end, in which EUR 2.6 million has been invested and that there are ongoing activities for reconstructing another ten railway stations along Corridor 10, an investment worth more than EUR 2.5 million.

There are also intensive activities, as he said, aimed at full railway connection along Corridor 8, by overhauling and constructing railroad tracks.

The investment cycle in the Railways, as the Government representatives said, also includes the construction of the railroad tracks to Bulgaria and Kumanovo – Beljakovce section, being already commenced, and the reconstruction and construction of Beljakovce-Kriva Palanka section, which should start in the first half of next year. Document required for constructing the railway section from Kicevo to the border with Albania, is being prepared. What is also announced is that overhaul of the railroad tracks Nogaevci-Gradsko-Negotino and the Project “Construction works for renewal with reconstruction of the railway section Bitola – Kremenica, as part of Xd of Corridor X”, should be completed in the coming years.

As announced by Prime Minister Greuvski, the government projects for subsidies and free train transport for the students and the pensioners will also continue in the coming period. Free train transport was provided to 45,000 young people up to the age of 27, last and this year, as almost the same number as the one of students, using the opportunity for free train transport each Thursday. Under the project for discount of 50% for train tickets for pupils and students in 2014 and 2015, 61,990 passengers were transported, while 44,926 passengers were transported through the project for free weekend travel for adults.

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