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 A journey by train in Albania, summer 2013.

In jos 


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MesajSubiect: A journey by train in Albania, summer 2013.   Dum 22 Sept 2013, 18:22

A journey by train in Albania, summer 2013.

Last week, I went with a friend to Montenegro and the country of Albania. For us as trainfanatics, a trip by train in Albania was a thing that we couldn't miss, I've thought about it for several years. But because of Albania's isolation with the rest of Europe, it is difficult to reach te country for us.

In Albania, there are only 12 daily retours for trains in the whole country.
We made a trip from Shkodër (110.000 inhabitants) in the north to Tirana (700.000 inhabitants) by minibus, and back from Tirana to Shkodër by train, a trip of 105 kilometers.
On this route, there is only 1 train a day in both directions. The train to Shkoder wil depart at 13.10h from Tirana.

The route is marked in red.

When we arrived in Tirana, we went to the trainstation to look around there, and to see some trains.
But onfortunately, when we arrived, we saw that the trainstation is completely demolished since a few weeks.

Tirana's trainstation:

Albania's trainschedule.

Demolished platforms and railway tracks:

When we asked what happened here, we were informed that the railway station is demolished to make space for a new cityboulevard for cars, and that all trains are now suspended to Vorë, 15 kilometers west of Tirana.
So nowing this, Tirana has no trainstation anymore, I think it's the largest city in Europe without a station.
There are planns for a new railway station under the boulevard, but unfortunately there is no money at this moment.
The next years Tirana is only reachable by car or bus.

I think it's wrong decision to demolish a trainstation for building a new road. Traffic is horrible there, even when you cross the streets with a green traffic light, large cars like Porsche, Mercedes, Ferrari, Masaratti etc will cause an accident if you don't watch carefully enough. On the large boulevards, they drive through red traffic lights etc. We were also wondering who can buy such cars in such a poor country. In Olanda, we don't have money for it...

The lady at the ticketoffice at the station, which is still open, sold us a ticket to Shkodër for 145 Leke, which is 1,05€ for 105 kilometer. Very cheap!


The lady showed us where the official bus from the railway company departs, it was this old second hand bus from Italy:

Inside the bus.

Trainstation Vorë, where we have to change from bus to train.

A train to Durrës.

Trainstation Vorë with our bus.

Although the train looks very old, the locomotive is build in 1988 in Czechoslovakia.
The cars are old ones from Germany.

Some windows were totally removed by vandalism. It rained a lot in the morning, so the interior of the train was very wet.

This was our train to Shkodër:

Railway track:

The highest speed on this route was 30km/h...

Another station:

Stolen signals, there are no signals anymore on this route.

Poor infrastructure. Although sometimes the train was driving 30km/h, very often the speed limit was 10 or 5 km/h.


Another station:


The train:

The landscape of Albania is very attractive, and the slow speeds can be used to enjoy it.

Crossway for traffic.

The most ''beautiful" station of the route:

Freight tracks.

Again freight tracks. Most carriages don't have breaks anymore... Probably stolen.

Beautiful scenery:

After 90 kilometers, we reached Shkodër with a delay of 30 minutes:

A nice wall painting in the station:

We started our journey in Tirana at 13.00h with the bus, and reached Shkodër at 17.15h.
4.15h for 105 kilometers. The train used 3.5h for 90 kilometers, so a speed of 25,7km/h.
The bus which we used for our inbound trip did 105 kilometers in 2h exactly. Silly but the thruth.

Shkodër is a beautiful old city, and there is a railway track to Montenegro in the north. But there aren't passenger trains anymore. This is the only boarder track of the country, only freight.

Later in the evening we were having our diner at a terrace in the city, and we heard a very hard explosion.
After finishing diner, we saw this car at 100 meters from our terrace:

It was a carbomb, probably by maffia or something.

Albania is a very poor and strange country with a beautifull scenery because of the mountains. But air quality is bad because of the overcrowded streets with all its cars. I think this visit is a -once, but never again-...

Sus In jos
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MesajSubiect: Re: A journey by train in Albania, summer 2013.   Joi 14 Noi 2013, 11:40

Great trip! The image with ”beautiful scenery” is awesome at all!! Very sad to hear about Tirana Train Station, also the general atmosphere is bad at all. But the fact that young people that still travel by train is a bit encouraging. The costs are really cheap (like in Republic of Moldova, for example) and for sure do not cover the real expenses to run a train.

Tourism popularisation and investitions in this segment are some of these country`s rail transport chances to survive!

Thank you for the pictures!
Sus In jos
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MesajSubiect: Re: A journey by train in Albania, summer 2013.   Joi 14 Noi 2013, 20:23

Hmm, some Albanian words are strikingly similar with Romanian words but apart from this I'm deeply affraid that through your pictures we can glimpse into Romania's future...
We also have our intelligent politicians who claim that Bucharest main station should be moved outside the city to make space for new stores and motorways. They are not alone, some (large) part of the citizens agree; they say that "train sucks" and it is used by poor people who have no means to buy a car and therefore they do not deserve anything, let alone respect.
I have exagerated a bit, fortunately we still have some specialists in the system and they do not allow stupid politicians to play their game as they wish. But it is also true that the railways in Romania are disregarded an they are not allocated enough money to be maintainde as they should.
Sus In jos


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MesajSubiect: Re: A journey by train in Albania, summer 2013.   Lun 18 Noi 2013, 19:44

I think RomaniaŽs future is much better than the situation in Albania right now.
In Romania, there are some major infrastructure projects going on at this moment. I saw the stations of Braila and Arad  in march this year myself, which are stations that are compareble to Western Europe. Some large stations in Germany or Belgium for instance are much less modern and functionable than the modernised Romanians.
Further the tracks between Bucuresti and Constanta are really modern, and if you find a solution for the stealing of the relais etc, itŽs almost the most modern line of Europe at this moment. Further, the interior/ comfort of your IR/IC trains in Romania is good in my opinion. I've maid several trips with the blue-grey coaches (with green/white chairs) and they are superb!

In Albania almost all infrastructure is in a deplorable situation. Also the main roads are very bad. The capital Tirana doesn't have a busstation at all. At some corners by large blocks, there are some ''cowboy styled men'' which are shouting in the streets where they are driving to with their minibusses. They ask everybody which passes them if you wan to join them in their bus. Very sad situation. Also air quality is very bad there, in this summer, we could not watch further than several hundreds of meters in the streets, because of the smog/airpollution. Outside Tirana, we could see many kilometers far...

Furthermore, Bucuresti has a good functioning metro with modern carriages. Our carriages in Amsterdam are from the 1970's... Tirana has only 10 citybus lines. Bucuresti has 1000 modern Citaro busses. And some modern trolleybusses.
When you are able to buy new tram vehicles, Bucuresti is in my opinion a city with one of the most modern, cheap and frequent publick transport. That's why I love to come back as many times as possible in Romania.
Sus In jos


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MesajSubiect: Re: A journey by train in Albania, summer 2013.   Dum 09 Aug 2015, 20:48

I think Albania is the first country in Europe that demolished Central Train Station of the capital city (Tirana) to build a boulevard. I thought they will build a new train station but no, they don't need rail service anymore?

Sus In jos
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