Albania - General Information
National railway system
Train services in Albania are subject to alteration and cancellation at short notice. As at August 2018 passenger trains were reported to be running from Durrës to Kashar, Elbasan, Shkoder and Fier.
The compilers particularly welcome reports of railway operations from travellers to Albania.
National Railway Operator
The Rail Infrastructure Administrator of HSH. Their 2019 Network Statement is in English here.
numeric 41; alpha AL.
Available at the HSH website about half way down the page on the right hand side, labelled New Timetable - Winter 2018
No printed timetable is published by HSH although a very basic Word document is available on their website (see above).
The European Rail Timetable has timings for Albania but these may be out of date.
There is no official HSH railway map. Quail Map Company published the Albanian Railway Guide in 1997, which includes track diagrams, motive power details and other information, but this is now out of print, although available on the second-hand market. Modern general maps are available from respected publishing houses such as Freytag & Berndt which should be accurate - earlier maps may have been based on inaccurate information provided by the former communist government.
There is no railrover ticket covering Albania, but fares are extremely cheap and based on a zonal system. Tickets are not sold in advance, and are valid only on the first train following issue.
Rule of the road
There are no double track lines, except in the immediate vicinity of principal stations, and the track used depends on operating convenience.
Recent and future changes
HSH is to fund a project to rehabilitate Durrës – Tiranë and construct a 7.4 km branch from a triangular junction at the 27 km point to serve Tiranë Airport, using a €36·9m loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development and up to €35·5m in grants from the European Commission and other institutions. Companies were invited in April 2018 to prequalify for the contract, which is expected to take 30 months.
It is understood that the new Tiranê station will be in the Laprake area, around 2km short of the site of the old one.
An October 2018 statement on the HSH website announced a European Union-financed feasibility study for the rehabilitation of the Durrës-Elbasan-Pogradec railway line and the construction of a new line from Lini to the border of North Macedonia.
The April 2019 timetable, available on the HSH website shows two train pairs from Durrës to Elbasan, two to Shkodër and one to Kashar. The changes since the September 2018 timetable involve an extra train pair on the Shkodër line at the expense of the service to Fier, on the Vlorë line, which has once again lost its service.
The situation still remains fluid and travellers should be aware that further changes may be made at short notice.
According to the HSH website, on 4 December 2018 they passed out 25 Driver Assistants, the first such qualifications to be achieved for 30 years. It remains to be seen whether this leads to further reinstatement of services.
The only freight-only line currently in use is the cross-border line to Montenegro. It was observed to be in use in August 2018.
According to HSH's 2019 Network Statement (paragraph 3.4.1), the following lines are 'permanently locked' out of use owing to poor infrastructure:
- [Librazhd -] Xhyrë - Pogradec
- Budull - Fushë-Krujë (F)
- Elbasan - Fabrik Cement (F)
- Gjonem - Kombinat Kimiko Metallurgical Laç (F). The network statement has 'Gjorm' instead of Gjonem, but that is a village in a valley south of Vlorë, far removed from any railway line, active or disused.
- Fier - Vlorë
- Fier - Ballsh (F)
(F): Freight only
The following lines have a 'temporary blockage':
- Kashar - Tiranë [presumably the new station]
- Librazhd - Xhyrë
All train services in Albania were suspended in November 2016, because unpaid fuel bills caused the railway company's bank accounts to be frozen. By February 2017 passenger services had resumed between Durrës and Kashar. By July 2017 trains had also resumed between Durrës, Shkodër and Elbasan.
Trains on all lines other than Durrës to Kashar were cancelled from 9 July 2016, but were reinstated to Librazhd and Shkodër later that month.
Tiranë to Vorë was closed in September 2013 for redevelopment of the Tiranë station site. A rail service between Vorë and Kashar, about 8 km from Tiranë, was reinstated on 26 May 2015. No rail replacement bus to and from central Tiranë is provided but service buses are reportedly available.
The once daily train from Rrogozhinë to Pogradec was 'temporarily' withdrawn beyond Librazhd (a short distance east of Elbasan) in summer 2012, apparently after damage from road construction work. The line however has never reopened beyond Librazhd and since the service reinstatement after the November 2016 network closure, passenger trains have only run to Elbasan.
The Durrës avoiding line linking the Tiranë and Elbasan/Vlorë lines, formerly used by passenger trains in summer, was out of use by 2006 and lifted by October 2012.
The line between Fier and Ballsh closed to passenger traffic in 2001.
The branch from Milot to Rreshen closed to all traffic in November 1996 and the track was used to repair damage to the Shkodër line.
By comparison with other European systems, HSH is a very primitive railway, using elderly rolling stock acquired second hand and now in very poor condition. It is common to find carriages in service with broken glass in the windows.
There are no international passenger trains to Albania, the one cross-border railway, that to Montenegro, being used only for freight traffic. Routes from Western Europe are by air or road, or by ferry from Bari (Italy). Coaches operate between Tiranë and various German and Eastern European cities.
Further information about Albanian Railways can be found at www.angelfire.com/ak/hekurudha/index.html although this website has not been updated for several years.