Tran-European Network - TEN-T - Corridor 8 runs east-west through south-eastern Europe, linking transport flows from the Adriatic and Ionian Seas to those from the Black Sea. From the port of Durres, Albania, the pan-European axes runs towards Skopje, via Tirana, Albania. It then heads towards Sofia, Bulgaria and to reach the seaports of Burgas and Varna on the Black Sea. It covers a total of 1,300 km of rail line and 906 km of road network.
The agreement to build Corridor 8 dates back to 1991. The route, outlined during the 1994 Crete Transport Conference, remained unchanged during the 1997 Helsinki Conference.
This artery has grown in importance in the system of pan-European links thanks to the creation of another, Corridor X, directly linking Austria and Greece. Moreover, the project listed in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) drawn up during the Italian EU Council Presidency contemplated a route that included the Italian ports in the region of Apulia along the follow axis:
Corridors 8 and 5 converge in the Sofia-Plovdiv section, thus engaging both Greece and Turkey in the project.
During a meeting in Rome on 7 July 2000, the countries involved stipulated an agreement accepting the portions of the MOU defining the corridor. In May 1997 a working group, chaired by the Bulgarian State Railways, (BDZ) was set up to study the rail system.
Today, the Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe has funds available to finance construction of the missing rail links from Skopje to Bulgaria.
The rail line is interrupted in two sections, between Albania and Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and between the latter and Bulgaria. Approximately 80 km of track must be built in a region whose morphological features make access difficult.
Corridor 8 is another of the priority projects of former EU commissioner Karel Van Miert. The Corridor 8 Technical Office and Control Centre were opened at the Fiera del Levante Trade Fair Centre, Bari and will host a yearly forum of representatives of the governments that signed the Memorandum, for the purpose of verifying the progress made regarding the commitments undertaken.
Corridor 8: Investments
Source: Trans-European Networks-TEN. 2003