TIRANA, March 8
Update: Train transport operates normally
An Albanian Railway Facebook page, linked by the official Railways website,announced that train service has stopped as of Monday, March 7th due to lack of fuel. The decision came at a time when prices are on the rise in every sector including public transport. In such a situation, rail transport would come in handy as a more affordable alternative to many people living and working in the areas where trains are still operational.
However, the Albanian Railway informed on Tuesday that train transport continues normally for the 2022 timetable. Based on the timetables provided by the Albanian rail, the only operational routes are Durres-Elbasan and Elbasan-Durres. The route Kashar-Durres-Kashar had switched to bus transport due to reconstruction works in the rail infrastructure.
Moreover, the Shkoder-Lac-Shkoder route will start operation next Tuesday, March 15th. This route serves mostly the inhabitants of Northwestern Albania and especially the pilgrims that visit Saint Anthony (Shna Ndout) church in Lac.
For decades trains have been a cheap and popular means of transport that connected main Albanian cities with the capital Tirana. However, rail transport service was curtailed over the last years. As more Albanians started to buy cars and existing road infrastructure improved, more people opted for faster means of transportation. On the other hand, huge sections of the railway have been damaged or stolen for scrap.
The rail took a major hit when Tirana’s Station has moved to the Kashar area due to works for the construction of the new boulevard in the Albanian capital. This is how Tirana got the reputation of the only capital city in Europe without a train station.
According to the data provided by INSTAT, over 60,000 passengers used rail transport in 2019. Meanwhile, the highest number of annual passengers by rail transport in INSTAT’s database was in 2006 with over 1.6 million. The last figures in the database are about 2020. It’s quite obvious that the pandemic had a huge impact on the number of rail passengers. Only 18,000 passengers used rail transport in 2020.
Despite the condition of Albanian rails, trains are a popular means of transport among international citizens and tourists in Albania.
Hopefully, plans for the rehabilitation of Tirana-Durres rail and the construction of a connection line with Tirana International Airport (TIA) would bring the rail back to its glorious days.
Albania and Kosovo are currently planning a rail connection between both countries. Read more here: Project on Albania-Kosovo Railway Moves Forward
Source/Photo Credit: Albanian Railway