Railway Operators in Albania

 HSH - Hekurudha Shqiptare SH.A.

Network length, gauge and electrification (2020):

The HSH system continues to operate services over most of the system although it remains in a very run-down condition - mirroring the country in general (although things are changing - slowly!) Passenger services are the generally two return services daily as shown in the March 2004 Red Cookbook (timetable dates from 2000): all trains are hauled by the T669 Diesels and formed of 2/3 second-hand ex DR class Byu cars built in the 1980s and modernised in the 1990s, strengthened where necessary at peak times. The old Austrian/Italian stock has now been taken out of service.
Services are very slow due to the system-wide speed limit of 40 km/h due to track condition. Of the 55 T669s on the books, 25 are 'runners' and there are 18 daily diagrams.

Since 1991 private car ownership has been permitted and there are many minibus services offering quicker transits (though these only run when full) so passenger traffic has suffered steep decline. Most of the communist-era mining activities, which were the 'raison d'etre' for the railways, have now ceased, so freight traffic is also much reduced in consequence: about five daily service are run to demand. Operations are now entirely radio-controlled from Durres; the colour-light signalling system covering the central section now being defunct apart from at Elbasan West. Train drivers are issued with the traditional 'Vie Libre' paper ticket.

One encouraging development is the nightly Podgorica - Tirana freight for imported general merchandise, and this traffic is expected to develop significantly. The future of HSH must depend upon improved international links in conjunction with developments at the Port of Durres, and there has for some time been a scheme to connect the Pogradec line at Lin through to Kicevo in Macedonia, thus creating a through Trans-Balkan rail route to Burgas/Varna in Bulgaria, though the scheme awaits funding!.

No passenger services now run to Ballsh, and the Milot - Rreshen branch has been closed since 1996 - the track beyond Rubik having been lifted and transferred to repair the Shkoder - Montenegro line. Expenditure upon the aborted extension to Klos must have been colossal and it is worth following the route to beyond Burrel just to see the abandoned structures - it would have been a super ride had it been completed!

The steam loco stock referred to on the Quail map of the system is incredibly all still there as listed, but probably not for much longer, as a scrap merchant has at last moved in!

An LRT scheme has been produced to connect Tirana with Rhinas Airport, and this would also absorb the Tirana - Durres line, but it is not clear what effect this would have on the rest of the HSH system. This scheme is currently under governmental consideration.

In 2005 passenger numbers fell by 19%, mainly due to a collapsed bridge close to Tirana. Passenger numbers amounted 1.42 million, HSH hopes to reach 1.8 million passengers in 2006 now that the bridge is repaired. In 2006 international freight traffic to Montenegro restarted with trains running approx. once a week to the border station of Bajze.

In 2017, all passenger services were temporarily stopped. Since then a few services have restarted but the situation is unclear. The main railway station in Tirana has been demolished, it is replaced by a "temporary" structure a few km outside the city.

After the earthquake in November 2019 all services have been suspended again. On 6 February 2020 the first services restarted.

In 2018 HSH transported 76,000 passengers and 198,900 tonnes of freight (of which 84,500 tonnes international).

Website: http://www.hsh.com.al/

Stock Tables:

 AR - Albrail

Network length, gauge and electrification (2018):

Albrail is the first private train operator in Albania. Its locomotives will be used for track maintenance/rebuilding throughout the country. The first line to be rebuilt is the 33km Fier-Vlorė line in southwestern Albania.

Website: http://www.albrail.al/

Stock Tables:

Last update: 15-03-2021