Serbia: Where the Danube and the Sava flow together

22. 06. 2021

Still bearing the marks of wars and scars, the Serbian economy has been recovering since 2000. The positive development of the Serbian economy in recent years was brought to an abrupt end by the pandemic. However, with a decline of 1.1% at the end of the year, Serbia came through the crisis better than many comparable countries. In the following country portrait, you can read what the most important railway connection, Corridor X, and raspberry exports have to do with this.

The Danube flows from the Black Forest through Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest, and also passes the Serbian capital Belgrade. At the point where the Danube and Sava flow together, you will find the imposing fortress Beogradska Tvrđava, the capital’s landmark. Serbia is an important transit country for European countries, as several European transport corridors cross Serbia. The most important of these is Corridor X, which connects Central Europe with South-Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Corridor X, with its 2528 km long railway line, is therefore also an important link for the ÖBB Rail Cargo Group.

The country where raspberries grow

Serbia has the highest industrial share amongst the western Balkan countries. The automotive and related supply industries as well as the machinery and chemical industries are among its strongest. Due to the good climate and soil conditions, this Balkan country has an agricultural area of about five million hectares. For this reason, agriculture also plays an important role in total exports and accounts for around one fifth of the total share. Raspberries are among Serbia's most important fruit varieties and have become a trademark of the country. This makes Serbia one of the largest raspberry exporters in the world.

The railway market in Serbia

The Serbian rail network has a total length of approx. 3,800 km. The railway network is in a worse condition than the road network. For this reason, the rail network along the tracks of the Trans-European Transport Corridor X is currently being renewed. With the Budapest-Balkans TransFER connection, RCG has been offering a rail logistics connection between Western European economic centres and the countries in South and South-eastern Europe for years. Rail transport is handled in single wagons, wagon groups or block trains and regularly transported to Bulgaria, Macedonia, Greece and Serbia. The national railway company Železnice Srbije (ŽS) was run as a public company until 2011 and has since been transformed into a joint-stock company. As an official candidate country of the EU, Serbian transport policy has to undergo some adjustments. The opening of the railway market is one of these critical points that must be improved. At the beginning of 2018, in addition to the state-owned ŽS, three other companies entered the railway market, but according to the EU, further efforts are still needed to liberalise the market.