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Macedonia launches first EMU purchased from CRRC
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With a promotional ride from capital Skopje to the east town Veles on 15 Nov. 2015, Macedonian Railway Transport launched the new EMU train, purchased from the Chinese CRRC corporation.

Among the first passengers on the promotional ride were Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, Vice-Prime Minister and Finance Minister Zoran Stavreski, Transport Minister Vlado Misajlovski, etc. The EMU was made by CRRC Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive Co., Ltd.

The new train has capacity for 200 passengers and is the first of six trains purchased by the Macedonian government from China.

"Today is a historic day for the Macedonian people because there is a whole history behind us in which no one cared to buy new trains for the Macedonian citizens and improve the condition of the railway," Prime Minister Gruesvki explained on Sunday in Skopje.

"We don't need many words. All we need is to see the old trains at the rails and compare them to the train we put in traffic today. There is huge difference," said Gruesvki.

The new trains will cover around 60 percent of the railway lines operating in the country. The Macedonian government plans purchasing additional trains to cover the remaining 40 percent.

In the State Budget for the coming 2016 about 36 million euros are planned for modernizing the railway, which is 15 times more than in 2006, Macedonian Vice-Prime Minister and Finance Minister Zoran Stavreski said.

"The goal is to give the Macedonian railway the look it deserves, to make it modern and functional. It should have been done many years ago, but we did it now and we can't postpone it anymore," Stavreski added.

All the ongoing projects for buying new trains, rebuilding of several train stations, as well as the improvement of the condition of the rails is a total investment worth 600 million euros. Such investments in the Macedonian railway have not been made in the past 30 years.

"The Railway enters a new era in which the citizens will understand what a quality, fast and comfortable transport means. This train with a capacity for 200 passengers is one of the most modern trains made, respecting all EU standards," Macedonian Transport Minister Vlado Misajlovski said.

The passengers are satisfied with the improvement.

"This new train is completely new experience. Everything is new and modern and I will feel much safer," Sasho Mitrovski, a retired citizen from Veles said on Sunday.

Viktorija Volcheska, a student from Prilep at the University in Skopje, travels to her hometown by train at least once a month. Today she traveled with one of the old trains, but she hopes that new trains will also operate to Prilep soon.

"It is huge improvement. It will be much easier for me to travel now. I just hope that soon the other trains like this one will arrive to the country," she said.

According to the agreement with the Macedonian government, CRRC corporation will supply another electric train by the end of the year, and four other diesel trains in the first quarter of 2016.

The train promoted on Sunday is the first purchased new train for the Macedonian Railways in the past 40 years.

Additionally, as part of the project to modernize the railway, the Macedonian government is financing the repair of several train stations and has plans to improve the condition of the railway lines on some crucial points.

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