Macedonia is one of the rare European countries where international railway traffic is about to go extinct. Apart from the lack of express trains towards the bigger cities during the entire year, there are no trains for citizens towards Serbia, Greece, and Kosovo. The citizens of border cities are forced to pay for bus tickets which are more expensive despite the fact that the national railway managements have organized the trains to reach only to border locations on their territories.
At the moment, the only international trains that are operational are the express trains to Solun and Belgrade, which will be active until the 16th of September. Also, there is a train between Skopje and Prishtina that is running with one train daily . The data from the neighboring countries’ timetables show that there is a potential for introducing local connections. “Serbia Railways” is keeping two pairs of trains between Nish and Preshevo, while North Macedonia’s Railways – Transport are organizing 4 pairs of trains between Skopje and Tabanovce. But, despite this, there is no train that would connect both countries.
At the Southern border, the Greek company “TrainOSE“ is keeping 3 trains per day between Thessaloniki and Lerin, while the Macedonian railway is using an identical pair of trains between Skopje and Bitola. As a result, there is a possibility of introducing a cross-border train between Bitola and Lerin, but there is no interest for any further action . Finally, the Kosovar railway “Trainkos“ is keeping 2 additional lines between Prishtina and Hani and Elezit, but these trains do not pass the Macedonian border.
” Meta Agency has sent questions to both Railway companies regarding the possibility of introducing cross border trains between Serbia and Macedonia. Neither “RNM Railways – Transport” nor “Serbia Railways“ didn’t reply to our requests for information. In the case of Serbia, the timetable of their railways shows that their trains regularly cross the border from Dimitrovgrad and Sofia in Bulgaria, from Sombor and Erdut, Bogoevo and Osiek in Croatia, including Kraljevo and Kosovska Mitrovica with Kosovo. It is unclear why there aren’t any cross-border trains with our country.
The current timetables of bus companies show that there is an interest in traveling to shorter destinations. Between Skopje and Nish there are 8 bus lines traversing these locations and the round ticket is 1.050 to 1.150 denars. For the same destination with a train, the fee is 849 denars, but the only train runs only during the summer.
As a result of abolishing the trains, the data provided by the State Statistical Bureau show a continuous drop in the number of passengers using international railway traffic. If in 2011, 13.643 persons have traveled abroad with a train, last year only 7.385 passengers were using the train.