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Michael Ahlgrim, Head Of Southeast Europe, DB Engineering & Consulting GmbH

Connecting People And Markets

DB Engineering & Consulting, as part of the Deutsche Bahn and DB E.C.O. Group, is one of the leading companies in the railway consultancy business, having amassed 50 years of experience and with more than 5,000 employees from 84 different countries

We have been present in Serbia since March 2011 and have succeeded in performing some very attractive and large scale projects. At this moment we have around 30 permanent employees in Serbia, mostly engineers, while the list of our partners and subcontractors is much longer, says Michael Ahlgrim.

Your company has implemented thousands of projects worldwide over the course of the past half a century, while you’ve been present in Serbia since May 2011. How would you assess the development of rail transport in this region over the past 10 years?

We are offering the entire range of services, starting with an idea, through development and implementation, all the way to operations and maintenance. Our experts across all engineering disciplines develop and implement solutions that meet our customers’ needs and connect people and markets around the world – from Germany, Europe, Australia and South Africa to the United Arab Emirates, China and Brazil. We draw upon many years of experience to perform the right analysis for each situation and take active sustainable steps that meet our customers’ needs and prepare them for the future.

The ultimate goal for rail transport in Southeast Europe should be the creation of a sustainable mode of transport, which would ensure future optimal connections and further economic development within the region, with special attention paid to environmental issues in order to effectively combine the strengths of each individual mode of transport – rail, road, sea and air – in the interests of customers.

The Belgrade – Stara Pazova Section is the first section of the future high-speed rail line between Belgrade and Budapest

I’m happy to see that this goal has been recognised and implemented in the transport strategies of all neighbouring countries, which will place railway transport in the position where it belongs. The current status of the existing infrastructure cannot support further development and our first task, together with relevant stakeholders, is to reconstruct and modernise the most important railway lines, in parallel with constructing new ones.

I’m happy to see that this goal has been recognised and implemented in the transport strategies of all neighbouring countries, which will place railway transport in the position where it belongs. The current status of the existing infrastructure cannot support further development and our first task, together with relevant stakeholders, is to reconstruct and modernise the most important railway lines, in parallel with constructing new ones.

We have been witnessing major investments in the rail sector over the last 10 years, starting from Slovenia – where the Divaca–Koper railway line is ready for construction, Croatia – where Corridor X is already upgraded, Bosnia-Herzegovina, with priority designs along Corridor Vc that are ongoing, Serbia – with the development of the first high-speed line in the region and the reconstruction of Corridor X, North Macedonia and Albania – with design and construction works along Corridor VIII. All these projects should contribute to the better connectivity and transport of people and freight within the SEE region, which will create new possibilities for investments, a better economy and a higher standard of living for all citizens.

Which projects have you been engaged in and which companies have you collaborated with on works implemented in Serbia?

We have been present in Serbia since March 2011 and, thanks to Nikola Ristić and his team, we succeeded in developing our office and performing some very attractive and large scale projects in Serbia. At the moment we have around 30 permanent employees, mostly engineers, while the list of our partners and subcontractors is much longer. Our main clients are usually state-owned and private rail companies, regional transport operators, construction companies and private investors, but also international and national financial institutions. I would therefore emphasise our excellent cooperation with Serbian Railways Infrastructure and the respective Ministry of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure. The supervision of construction works on the Žeželj Bridge over the Danube was an example of excellent cooperation between different investors (EU Delegation and the Republic of Serbia) and international contractors.

We have been witnessing major investments in the rail sector over the last 10 years, everywhere from Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia, to North Macedonia and Albania

From the private sector, our biggest client is RZD International, with whom we’ve already implemented various projects in the field of technical consulting during reconstruction works on the Belgrade – Pančevo section (15 km), six sections along Corridor X (112 km), Resnik – Valjevo (85 km) and construction works on the highspeed Belgrade – Budapest line along the Stara Pazova – Novi Sad section (40 km).

You are currently involved in conducting expert supervision on the section of the railway from Belgrade to Stara Pazova and the compiling of technical documentation for the Bar railway. What stages have these projects reached?

Here we are talking about two very important projects for the Republic of Serbia. The Belgrade – Stara Pazova section is the first section of the future high-speed rail line between Belgrade and Budapest, part of the global “One Belt, One Road” initiative. As this kind of railway infrastructure has never been constructed in Serbia, we have to be very careful and to utilise all the knowledge we’ve gained from similar projects worldwide. The Chinese contractor will, according to the plan, complete the construction work most probably in the 3rd quarter of this year. We are confident that the first trains on this section will start to run by end of the year.

On the other hand, reconstruction of the Valjevo – Vrbnica section of the Bar railway is in the design stage. Technical documentation for the entire 210 km, including the preliminary design and design for construction, should be completed in the next 18 months. RZD International, part of Russian Railways Holding, is the main contractor for this project. At DB Engineering & Consulting we are proud to be part of this project and to support RZD International with our Design Centre located in Bucharest and local subcontractors, in order to develop designs according to the latest EU standards, bringing German knowhow and international experience, which will usher in a new era in the development of high-speed rail lines and place Serbia as an important node on the map of European railways.

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