Albania - General Information
National railway system
Train services in Albania are subject to alteration and cancellation at short notice. See Recent and Future Changes for more details of the current situation.
The compilers particularly welcome reports of railway operations from travellers to Albania.
National Railway Operator
Hekurudha Shqipëtare (HSH). Their website at http://www.hsh.com.al is now regularly updated, but mainly with non-operational matters.
The Rail Infrastructure Administrator of HSH. Their 2019 Network Statement is in English here.
numeric 41; alpha AL.
The HSH Facebook page has 'projected' timetable information as at 7 October 2020, but the HSH website has times from 7 October 2020 in a more user friendly form at . It is unclear if trains are actually running.
No printed timetable is published by HSH.
The European Rail Timetable has timings for Albania but given the fluid situation these may be out of date.
- European Railway Atlas (All-Europe Edition) by M.G. Ball.
- European Railway Atlas (Regional Series - The Balkans) by M.G. Ball.
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
The situation remains fluid and travellers should be aware that further changes may be made at short notice.
All services were reported to have been suspended from 1 September 2020, again because of lack of fuel, but a timetable has been published effective from 7 October, showing trains from Durrës to Kashar and Elbasan.
The HSH Facebook page indicated that the only lines with service from July 2020 were those from Durrës to Kashar and Elbasan. The Shkodër and Vlorë lines remained without service. The Shkodër line is closed due to bridge damage caused by an earthquake.
Train services were suspended in November 2019 because HSH had run out of fuel and did not have funds to purchase further supplies. They resumed on 6 February 2020, but initially only between Durrës and Tirana (Kashar). The Elbasan line regained service on 10 July 2020.
The April 2019 timetable showed two train pairs from Durrës to Elbasan, two to Shkodër and one to Kashar. The changes since the September 2018 timetable involved an extra train pair on the Shkodër line at the expense of the service to Fier, on the Vlorë line, which once again lost its service.
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. This has not led to the hoped-for resumption of services on all lines.
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. A road has now been built on the trackbed.
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 Tiranë 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.
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.