HomePromisesUnkeptBy train to Tirana?

By train to Tirana?

Ilda Hoxha

Even this summer, the Tirana-Durres railway will not be ready, contrary to what the Minister of Infrastructure and Energy, Belinda Balluku, has declared. Albanian Railways officially informs Faktoje that currently, 45% of the works have been completed, and the project is expected to be completed in the spring of next year. With the completion of the project, the travel time between Tirana and Durres is expected to be only 22 minutes.

In February 2021, the Minister of Infrastructure and Energy, Belinda Balluku, announced the signing of the contract for the construction of the new Tirana-Durres railway. During her speech, Balluku stated that the works would be completed this summer.

“It will reduce the distance between Tirana and Durres by 22 minutes… According to contractual forecasts, the works will be completed within a 30-month timeframe, or in other words, in the summer of 2023,” declared the Minister of Infrastructure.

To inquire about the progress of the construction works for the Tirana-Durres railway, we submitted a request for information to the Albanian Railways.

The request for information was sent to the Albanian Railways on June 1, 2023. In the official response to Faktoje, dated June 7, the Albanian Railways announced that over 45% of the total contract value has been realized so far.

“Work is being carried out regularly at the construction site according to the approved work schedule, and progress is being made at a satisfactory pace. The focus of the works is mainly on the rehabilitation of the main railway line ‘Durres-Tirana.’ As previously announced, the implementation of the project for the rehabilitation of the railway line ‘Durres-Tirana-Rinas’ is expected to be completed in March 2024,” the Albanian Railways informs.

Regarding the investment value for the rehabilitation of the railway line “Durres-Tirana-Rinas,” it is officially emphasized to be approximately 70 million euros, excluding VAT.

“This investment value does not include the cost required for the complete electrification of this railway rehabilitation project,” clarifies the Albanian Railways.

On-site verification of the progress of the works.

To closely observe the progress of the works, we conducted a field verification on June 13th. The construction works for the project were still ongoing, indicating that there was still a lot of work to be done before their completion.

In the area known as “Ura e Limuthit,” the construction work for the overpass had not yet begun, as planned. At the time of verification, there was only one person responsible for security present in this area.

Meanwhile, at “Ura e Dajlanit,” the construction work for the railway was ongoing, with progress being made at a faster pace compared to other areas.

At the final station area in Durrës, the space was completely enclosed, and along the perimeter, it was indicated that there was a construction site. Inside the enclosed area, there was also a sign detailing the construction of the parking building near the train station, but the start and completion dates were not visible.

What does the railway construction project envisage?

Regarding this issue, Albanian Railways emphasizes that: “The project envisages that with its implementation completed, the train will travel between the two largest cities of the country in just 22 minutes. With a fully electric line and an electric train in line with environmental policies and European safety directives, this railway line will provide, among other things, direct access for passengers to Tirana International Airport in Rinas.”

It is also planned that the entire railway line will have a protective fence along its entire length.

“The project did not foresee the complete reconstruction of the bridges; it only included their rehabilitation. However, after the earthquake of November 26, 2019, considering the damages suffered by these bridges, it was decided to rebuild them from scratch,” Albanian Railways officially informs Faktoje.

Leonard Jani, an advisor in the General Directorate of Railways, stated to BIRN in March of this year that the line between the two largest cities of the country starts at the railway station in Durrës and ends at km 34 and 400 m, but not at the entrance of Tirana.

“The known bridges such as Limuthi, Erzeni, the one at the entrance of Rrashbulli tunnel, the one in Tirana, etc., will be rebuilt from scratch where they are currently located,” said the railway advisor, adding that the overpasses will also remain, with the appropriate tracks and signalling from Durrës to Tirana.


Furthermore, he adds that the railway stations along this line will remain the same as before: Durrës, Shkozet, Sukth, Vora, Kashar, and Tirana for passengers.

Change of Deadlines for the Tirana-Durrës Railway

In April of this year, Deputy Prime Minister Belinda Balluku and the Mayor of Tirana, Erion Veliaj, inspected the construction works of the Tirana-Durrës railway, emphasizing that the project is expected to be completed in March 2024.

“This is an electric train, which will have a speed of 120 km/h from this point to Durrës, while it will vary from 50-80 km/h from this point to Tirana; so it will have a moderate speed, as it will enter the city,” stated Balluku.

Meanwhile, in May, Prime Minister Edi Rama shared moments from the construction work of this railway on social media. Rama said, “The Tirana-Durrës railway is another important project that is progressing every day, and the physical completion of the project is expected to be finalized in 2024. Citizens will have a new form of transportation available, which was lacking until now, with lower costs and without any impact on the environment.”


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