Serbian Railways

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Serbian Railways (ŽS)
Native name
Железнице Србије / Železnice Srbije
Industry Rail transport
Founded 2005 (2005) (previously 1881)
Headquarters Belgrade, Serbia
Area served
Key people
Vacant (General director)
Products Rail transport, Cargo transport, Services
Revenue Decrease 230.19 million (2013)[1]
Increase -€71.73 million (2013)[1]
Total assets Decrease €2.428 billion (2013)[1]
Total equity Decrease €1.780 million (2013)[1]
Owner Government of Serbia
Number of employees
17,635 (2016)[2]
Subsidiaries Srbija voz (passenger)
Srbija kargo (freight)
Infrastruktura ŽS (infrastr.)
Serbian Railways (ŽS)
Railway map of Serbia and Kosovo.png
Map of Serbian rail network
Locale Serbia
Dates of operation 1881–present
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
Electrification 25kV AC, 50Hz OHLE
Length 3,739 km (2,323 mi)[3]

Serbian Railways (Serbian: Железнице Србије / Železnice Srbije) is the national railway company of Serbia. Serbian Railways is a member of the International Union of Railways (UIC). The UIC Country Code for Serbia is 72.


Construction of Niš-Pirot railway in Sićevo Gorge, 1885

The history of rail transport in Serbia began in the mid-19th century when most of the territory was still held by the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires. The first rail line on the present-day territory of Serbia was inaugurated on 20 August 1854, between Lisava-Oravica-Bazijaš and the train operated on horse-drawn traffic which were replaced in 1856 by steam locomotives. Part of the line is located in Serbia passing through Bela Crkva while the rest is in Romania. All subsequently built lines were laid towards Budapest as the territory was still part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire back then. On the territory which was under the Ottomans, the line Skopje-Kosovska Mitrovica was inaugurated in 1874. However, the major expansion began after the Berlin Congress and the independence of the, theretofore vassal to the Ottomans, Principality of Serbia during the second half of the 19th century.[4]

Serbian Railways as a company is traced back to 1881 when Prince Milan I declared formation of the Serbian National Railways. The first train departed from Belgrade to Niš on 23 August 1884, which is considered by Serbian Railways as the official year when the company was created.

This was not the first operational railway on the territory of then-Kingdom of Serbia, though, as the one in opened in 1882, a primarily industrial, though occasionally used for passenger transport, 12 km long 600 mm wide gauge track from Majdanpek copper processing plant to Velike Livade (a former village taken over by the plant) and constructed by the Serbian Copper & Iron Co. (official name in English, most stock holders were British) had its first run on the track in June 1882.[5]

Another one in Eastern Serbia followed suit in 1888, the 82 km long dual purpose (industrial and passenger transport) 760 mm gauge track from Vrška Čuka mine to the port of Radujevac on the Danube, built by the Societé Anonyme "L'Industrielle Serbe" registered at Brussels in Belgian, French, (Austro-)Hungarian, and Serbian ownership (in order of the percentage of stock owned).[6][7]

From the 1920s until the 1990s it operated under the name Yugoslav Railways, responsible for railways in all Yugoslavia. The first electrified line was opened between Belgrade and Šid in 1970. Line connecting Serbia with south Adriatic (Belgrade-Bar) was opened in 1976.

During the 1990s, following dissolution of Yugoslavia, railways in Serbia suffered the lack of maintenance of infrastructure and the level of traffic (especially cargo) decreased dramatically. That trend continued well into the 2000s and began reversing since the beggining of 2010s when program of modernisation both of infrastructure and rolling stock have begun.

Current modernisation projects[edit]

Nova Pazova railway station.

In 2013, Serbian Railways signed a contract with RZD International, worth USD 840 million, aimed at modernisation of ageing infrastructure by focusing on improving key sections of main railway lines. Section between Ruma and Golubinci on Belgrade-Šid line was reconstructed in 2014 and additional five sections on Belgrade-Niš-Preševo line (Sopot-Kosmajski Kovačevac, Mala Krsna-Velika Plana, Vinarce-Đorđevo, Vranjska Banja-Ristovac, and Bujanovac-Bukarevac) were modernized and revitalized in 2015 and 2016, while section between Belgrade and Pančevo on Belgrade-Vršac line saw doubling tracks besides reconstruction.[8] In 2017, as part of the contract with RZD, began reconstruction of Belgrade-Novi Sad-Subotica line on section between Stara Pazova and Novi Sad and Belgrade-Bar line on section between Resnik (on outskirts of Belgrade) and Valjevo.[9][10]

In 2015, the Government of Serbia signed memorandum with Government of China on reconstruction and thorough modernisation of Belgrade-Subotica line by bringing it to high-speed line standard. It is part of planned high-speed railway link between Belgrade and Budapest in Hungary, billed as a hallmark scheme under Belt and Road Initiative championed by China. Works on section between Belgrade and Stara Pazova are set to start in 2017, while works on section between Novi Sad and Subotica are to commence in 2018.[11]

New investments in rolling stock took place in last couple of years. Some 60 new passenger trains (39 diesel multiple units RA2 from the Russian company Metrovagonmash and 21 electric multiple units FLIRT3 from Swiss company Stadler) were ordered and are now in service.[12][13] Because of this, the passenger ridership has risen on the services operated by the new trains.

Serbian Railways headquarters in Belgrade


In 2013, Serbian Railways was split up into four divisions:[14]

  • Železnice Srbije a.d. (Holding company)
  • Srbija voz a.d. (Passenger transport)
  • Srbija kargo a.d. (Cargo transport)
  • Infrastruktura železnica Srbije a.d. (Infrastructure)

Rolling stock[edit]

  • Electric locomotives
    • ŽS 441 (44 units in total, 29 in service)
    • ŽS 444 (30 units in total, 23 in service)
    • ŽS 461 (51 units in total, 35 in service)
  • Diesel locomotives
    • ŽS 621 (17 units in total)
    • ŽS 641 (37 units in total, 11 in service)
    • ŽS 644 (6 units in total, 2 in service)
    • ŽS 661 (42 units in total, 23 in service)
    • ŽS 666 (4 units in total, 2 in service)
  • Electric trainsets
    • ŽS 412 (38 units in total, 26 in service)
    • ŽS 413 (21 units in total, 21 in service)
  • Diesel trainsets
    • ŽS 711 (39 units in total, 39 in service)
  • Passenger car park
    • Passenger cars - "open" or "compartment" (364 units)
    • Sleeping cars (52 units)
    • Couchette cars (63 units)
    • Dining/lounge cars (15 units)

FLIRT3 EMU of Class 413
RA2 DMU of Class 711
Passenger car
Electric locomotive of Class 441
Diesel locomotive of Class 661

Railway network[edit]

The Serbian railway system consists of 3,739 km of rails of which 295 km is double track (7.9% of the network). Some 1,279 km of track (33.6% of the network) is electrified.[15] Serbia has rail links with all of adjacent countries, except Albania.

Railroads are categorized as "main lines", "regional lines", "local lines" or "manipulative lines". Following is the table of main lines in Serbia:

Designation Route Length Tracks Electrification Notes
Belgrade - Ruma - Border with Croatia near Šid
120 km
shared track between Belgrade and Stara Pazova with Railway line 4
Belgrade - Niš - Border with Macedonia near Preševo
398 km
two tracks between Velika Plana and Stalać as well as between Đunis and Niš
Belgrade - Mala Krsna - Velika Plana
102 km
Belgrade - Novi Sad - Border with Hungary near Subotica
183 km
shared track between Belgrade and Stara Pazova with Railway line 1; two tracks between Belgrade and Stara Pazova
Niš - Border with Bulgaria near Dimitrovgrad
104 km
planned electrification
Belgrade - Pančevo - Border with Romania near Vršac
102 km
2 tracks and electrified between Belgrade and Pančevo
Belgrade - Valjevo - Užice - Border with Montenegro near Prijepolje
299 km
Lapovo - Kragujevac - Kraljevo - Boundary line with Kosovo near Rudnica
153 km
Subotica - Sombor - Border with Croatia near Bogojevo
87 km

Passenger transport[edit]

Beograd coach train

Serbian Railways offers many services which include international routes and domestic (both regional inter-city and local intra-city) routes.


Regio EMU trainset

Serbian Railways is part of EuroCity service on following routes:

Other (non-EuroCity) international routes include ones to Moscow and Bar:

  • Tara coach train serves famous railway line from Belgrade to Bar (Montenegro).
  • There is service that connects Belgrade to Moscow.
BG Voz EMU trainset


Regional (inter-city)[edit]

The Regio is a service that offers domestic connections to Novi Sad, Subotica, Niš, Zrenjanin, Valjevo, Kraljevo, Užice, Sombor, Požarevac, Zaječar, Vršac, Kikinda, Prokuplje and Ruma. FLIRT3 EMU of Class 413 provide the service on electrified lines while on non-electrified lines transport is provided by RA2 DMU of Class 711.

Local (intra-city)[edit]

BG Voz is an urban rail system that serves the city of Belgrade. RVR DMU of Class 412 serves the system.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]