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News 25 Apr 13

Norwegians Bid to Build Macedonian Tramway

Only one firm has shown interest in constructing a long-awaited tram network for Skopje in partnership with the city, at an estimated cost of 240 million euro.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje

Skopje tram vizualization | by: City of Skopje

Only one firm, a Norwegian consortium led by P.J Skurdal, had tendered an offer for the Skopje tram network when the tendering procedure expired on Wednesday, the city confirmed.

Authorities said it was was too early to reveal details of the offer.

The slack interest comes as a disappointment after Skopje mayor Koce Trajanovski last year said companies from France, Poland, Croatia, Germany and the Czech Republic had shown interest.

After several delays, the city issued the tram tender last December, envisaging the project as a private-public partnership.

Should a concessionary firm be chosen, it will operate the system for 35 years and will have to build 24 kilometres of line running in two directions and obtain at least 22 trams. It is estimated that the cost will be some 240 million euro.

According to projections, the government and city will finance half of the sum needed for the trams, as estimates have shown that the project would be hard to complete without state subsidies.

Skopje’s public transport system currently relies on a fleet of some 500 buses.

The authorities bought over 300 new buses to replace the old fleet in 2011. Another 200 buses that criss-cross Skopje are owned by private companies.

The city of 750,000 has been mulling the tram option for some 30 years as a more efficient and ecologically friendly method of getting people to and from work.

In the late 1980s the idea went to a city referendum, but most Skopjans then did not favour having to directly fund construction of the tram network themselves, as was proposed.

The most recent attempt to revive the idea came from the previous mayor, Trifun Kostovski, who ordered a feasibility study in 2009 and started preparation works on the ground. But enthusiasm for the idea faded when Kostovski’s term ended that year.

Mayor Trajanovski was silent on the tram option until 2011 when he announced his support for the project.

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