JSC Serbian Railways


South East Europe Alliance for Rail Innovation – SEESARI Kick-Off Meeting

– The Government of Serbia plan is to turn railways into a modern company with developed infrastructure and that is why we have launched, during the past year many modernization projects, reconstruction and rehabilitation of railway lines in the amount of 1.5 billion Euros. In addition to this, there is also a new rehabilitation of the Belgrade-Budapest line which amounts to nearly a billion Euros. This is just the beginning, there is still much to be done, and in the realization of projects we need to think about every possible type of innovation that we can apply when it comes to Serbian Railways – said Zorana Mihajlović, Minister of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure at the inaugural meeting of the South East Europe Alliance for Rail Innovation – SEESARI held on January 27th in Belgrade.

The Minister also emphasized the importance of regional networking, as evidenced by the presence of 60 participants from 14 countries at this meeting, as well as the opportunity to explore the position of Serbia as a transit country.

-The Government has formed a working group that has insight in the business operations of the newly formed railway companies and it also controls their work, followed by making of the Network Statement. During the next two years, it will be determined which lines are profitable, than we can expect opening of the market, which includes local governments. The State will give subsidies this year and the next one for all companies apart from “Serbia Cargo”, but the tendencies are to minimize them as much as possible and to attract, at the same time, passengers and freight transport – said Mihajlović.

Director General of UIC Jean-Pierre Loubinoux expressed satisfaction with the presence of a large number of participating countries on the conference, which confirms the importance of the initiative for the establishment of such alliances in the region of Southeast Europe, which will strengthen the role of the railways.

– UIC is home to all railways, it has 240 railway companies from over 100 countries, said Loubinoux and added that the development of the railways will enable economic development of each country, as well as the growth of gross domestic products. According to him, the railways, because of its advantages, primarily capacity and less energy consumption, is the backbone of modern Europe. The key is to restore what exists and to invest in new ones because in Southeastern Europe railway has an important role as a strategic bridge between Asia and Europe. Thus, the message of this conference was to build railway bridges, said the Director General of UIC.

Director General of “Serbian Railways” Miroslav Stojčić said that the railways of the region have shown that they can make an alliance that will be focused on the realization of common objectives, and that they can also be an example to other railways that are not members of the alliance. He reminded participants that Serbian Railways are currently in the process of restructuring and that there is an ongoing realization of projects financed by the Russian loan. Stojčić has also pointed out to the importance of the project of Belgrade center station, which was opened recently, and was build from the funds of the Kuwaiti loan. As far as the employment surplus, he said that every company will state their surpluses, and they will be solved by creating social programs and retraining. In addition to redundant employees, the division of assets will show excess assets, and debts.

The formation of the Alliance was made official with the signing of the Declaration of Intent which was signed by Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, Miroslav Stojčić and Peter Verlič, director of the Institute of Traffic and Transport from Ljubljana, who is chairman of SEESARI group at UIC.

Verlič reminded everyone that since last year, when the preparatory meeting for the establishment of the Alliance was held, the Strategic and Action Plan of this alliance was made.

– Our Vision is to become an important player in South Eastern Europe, with the assistance of international organizations and financial institutions, said Verlič and added that this region includes the 45.000km of railways, on which 147 million tons of cargo and 350 million passengers were transported. Therefore, the action plan allocates priority objectives such as the development of high-speed networks, investments and new solutions in the field of passenger and freight transport, revitalization of regional railways, unification of technical standards and the development of social components, employee education and youth employment, said Verlič.

Blaž Jemenšek from the Institute of Traffic and Transport in Ljubljana explained that SEESARI is an alliance which is based on voluntary partnership and can be accessed by railways which are not from Southeastern Europe in a form of an observer. The main parts are the General Assembly, the Steering Committee and the Secretariat.

Messages which were said on the founding meeting of the Alliance for Rail Innovation in South East Europe are encouraging for the development of the future of railways, the use of available funds, achieving greater efficiency and competitiveness of the railways, the creation of the unity of the railway area and achieving a faster flow of people and goods.

Founding meeting of SEESARI was organized by the “Serbian Railways” and Slovenian Railways, under the auspices of the International Union of Railways UIC, while working presidency is consisted of Mr. Nenad Kecman, Executive Director of “Serbian Railways”, Mr. Željko Valentić from “Serbia Train”, Simon Fletcher from UIC and Blaž Jemenšek from the Institute of Traffic and Transport from Ljubljana.