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 Shkodėr (110.000 inhabitants) in the north to Tirana (700.000 inhabitants) by minibus, and back from Tirana to Shkodėr 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.
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 Vorė, 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 Shkodėr 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 Vorė, where we have to change from bus to train.
A train to Durrės.
Trainstation Vorė 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 Shkodėr:
The highest speed on this route was 30km/h...
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.
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:
Again freight tracks. Most carriages don't have breaks anymore... Probably stolen.
After 90 kilometers, we reached Shkodėr 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 Shkodėr 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.
Shkodėr 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-...