Russia’s RDZ to sign new deal in Serbia. Serbia’s railway infrastructure company and Russia’s railway business RZD International are to sign a contract worth around €230 million ($262 million) for three railway projects to upgrade parts of the country’s rail network, the news reported by Serbian news outlet B92.

Russia’s state-owned railway operator, RZD International, already works on a number of projects in Serbia.

The deal is to be signed when Russian President Vladimir Putin visits Belgrade, the Serbian government said in a statement on Tuesday 15th January.

The deal is expected to focus on the design and implementation of three projects. The electrification of the Stara Pazova – Novi Sad railway section, construction of a modern dispatch center, as well as continuing with the upgrade of the section from Valjevo to Uzice, the part of the railway line which links Belgrade to the Montenegrin port of Bar.

In October, Serbia had announced it was in talks for a $500 million loan from Russia that will be used to fund railway projects, including continuing the overhaul of the Belgrade-Bar railway line and completing the reconstruction works on the Stara Pazova-Novi Sad line, among other projects.

Before his visit to Serbia, Russian President Vladimir Putin was quoted as saying that “unlike our Western partners, we do not try to pose an artificial dilemma for Belgrade and make Serbia choose whether to be with Russia or with the European Union.”

In an interview for Serbian newspapers Politika and Vecernje Novosti, the Russian President, who is due to arrive in Belgrade on Thursday, said that while Russia has many friends in the Balkans – “our strategic partner Serbia occupies a special place.”

Expand Cooperation

The deal follows an agreement to expand cooperation between Russia’s RDZ and Serbia. On December 26th, 2018, Russian Railways and Serbia announced a deal to develop cooperation.

On 24 December 2018, Oleg Belozerov, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Russian Railways, arrived in the Republic of Serbia on a working visit.

The head of Russian Railways met with Aleksandar Vučić, the President of the Republic of Serbia, and Zorana Mikhailovich, Serbia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure.

The parties discussed the prospects for concluding a new contract with Russia’s RDZ for the reconstruction of the 210 km railway line between Valjevo – Vrbnica – and Serbia’s border with Montenegro and the construction of a single dispatch center for train traffic control in the republic. The two sides also discussed the joint maintenance of Serbia’s railway infrastructure during the negotiations.

The status of current projects was also reviewed at the meetings. Serbian officials noted the high quality of work and its execution in strict accordance with the schedule.

To help modernize Serbian rail infrastructure, the first 10 kilometers of track are designed for speeds of up to 200 kph and were laid on the Stara Pazova – Inđija stretch on the Belgrade – Budapest line. Despite the problematic technological conditions, the construction of the double-track Čortanovci railway tunnel is going ahead in line with the planned deadlines and a viaduct is being built across the Danube floodplain along the Stara Pazova – Novi Sad section.

 

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