A modernized railway system is needed to alleviate the traffic burden on BiH’s inadequate roads. The BiH rail system is divided by entity, weighed down by excess employees, and hampered by poor and aging infrastructure. The total length of operational railway tracks in BiH is 1,031 km. Major users of the railway transport system are large industrial plants (such as the chemical plant in Tuzla and the Arcelor-Mittal Steel plant in Zenica), coal mines (Zenica, Tuzla, and Prijedor), the Aluminij aluminum plant in Mostar, and oil distributing companies (INA, Energopetrol, HIFA). Passenger railway traffic is very limited but has been growing since 2017 when the railway companies put into use modern and comfortable coach cars.
Rail transport in Bosnia and Herzegovina is operated by two companies: Željeznice Federacije Bosne i Hercegovine, which operates in the Federation, and Željeznice Republike Srpske, which operates in the RS. The entity companies manage the infrastructure and provide transport operations for both freight and passenger service within their borders. Priorities for the railway sector in both entities are reconstruction and modernization of infrastructure and purchase of new locomotives and coach cars. While there is some cooperation, inter-entity politics plays a large role in rail transport. In cooperation with the World Bank, the RS railway company is undergoing a restructuring to improve financial results and right-size staffing levels. The Federation railway company has recently improved its financial performance.
Federation Railways bought new Spanish “Talgo XXI” passenger trains in 2011 and put them into use in 2016 after completing upgrades of the rail lines. RS Railways has announced that the company is planning to significantly upgrade the existing railway infrastructure in the near term. Passenger service between Banja Luka, Sarajevo, and Mostar was revived in 2017, although the volume is still relatively small. Passenger service between BiH and the Croatian city of Ploce was restored in July 2022 with expectations that it will become year-round service. Reconstruction and modernization of rail infrastructure, such as signalization equipment and rail track upgrades, will remain the focus of both railway companies.
- BiH Ministry of Transport and Communication
- Railways of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Railways of Republika Srpska