Bosnia and Croatia are embarking upon a joint project to bring back to life railway lines built by the Austro-Hungarian Empire by creating a network of cycling trails.
It is hoped that the revitalisation of the railway will help to increase tourist interest in the region, located between the coastal city of Dubrovnik in Croatia and the inland towns of Trebinje and Capljina in Bosnia.
Work on the project has already begun and is expected to be completed by the end of the year. Costing 296,000 euros (approx. US$325,000), the conversion of the railway is being funded by the EU’s Instruments of Pre-Accession Assistance, which supports cross-boundary cooperation, and started in 2014 under the name “Through history by bicycle” or “Revitalisation of the Ciro narrow gauge railway”.
The railway was first built in 1901 by the Austro-Hungarian authorities, which then ruled Bosnia and Croatia, to connect Dubrovnik with inland towns in Bosnia. A steam train known as “Ciro” was in operation until 1971, when Yugoslav authorities put an end to railway connections to Dubrovnik.
Upon its completion, the network of cycle trails will connect several tourist destinations in the region, such as the Hutovo Blato nature reserve and the Vjetrenica cavern.
According to Ramiz Bazic from the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton Tourist Board, the project will have a positive impact on the development of the region.
“It’s an ambitious project, which will definitely be good for our Canton as it represents an opportunity to aid the development of smaller places, like Ravno, which are on the track,” Bazic told the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network.