Although this summer the train between Skopje and Prishtina and the express trains for Belgrade and Thessaloniki didn’t travel, the RNM’s railway company can barely maintain the current timetable with only 15 planned departures from the Skopje Train Station. During the summer, the passenger train between Skopje and Kochani wasn’t operational due to maintenance of the broken locomotive and there wasn’t a replacement for it.
The main problem that the state railway company has is the servicing of the six Chinese trains. One of the diesel articulated railcars is out of service since 2018, and there are maintenance problems with two other trains – one diesel and the other electric. As a result of the Chinese articulated railcars’ temporarily drops from regular traffic, the enterprise is forced to put into traffic locomotives with passenger wagons to maintain the destinations. But their numbers are also limited, due to the needs of the cargo railway traffic.
RNM’s Railways explained to Meta.mk that their delegation had a meeting with the Chinese company CRRC, which produced the trains.
“During the meeting there were discussions about the activities that the Chinese company must take over in order to enable the trains for operation. But, due to the COVID-19 situation which prevents experts from China to arrive in Skopje, all activities have been paused,” is the reply we reply received from the RNM’s railway company.
Otherwise, together with the start of the operation of the Chinese trains four years ago, the railway company wrote off the diesel and electric trains that the passenger railway traffic was based upon until then. The former “Gorbachov” articulated railcars got broken down after the massive wave of refugees that were transported with these trains back in 2015. The Spanish diesel trains are also parked in the Lisiche depot and are waiting for an overhaul, but it requires financial assets that the company currently doesn’t have.
The RNM’s Railways – Transport explained that all of the trains have been put into use with full capacity but malfunctions are happening due to the enormous use of the trains. But these malfunctions have been repaired.
The railway company began negotiations with the Chinese manufacturer to meet producer’s obligations from the agreement for acquiring the six articulated railcars concerning the trains’ technical issues. Last summer, the former Vice Prime Minister Kocho Angjushev said that half of the purchased trains are malfunctioning and that the technical acceptance wasn’t done, but the problems with the Chinese trains have remained unsolved to this day.
Macedonia is the first country in Europe that decided to buy trains from China. Apart from the six diesel and trains with electric motors for passenger traffic, Macedonia acquired four electric locomotives that will primarily be used for maintaining the cargo railway traffic.