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I had "cleared" Macedonia's present passenger track back in 2010, and not even passed through since 2018 - since when the country has been renamed to "Republic of North Macedonia" (previously it had been the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia). After years of planning and construction delays the rebuilt line from Bitola over the border to Florina in Greece was finished a year or so ago but a service only started on 1st February 2023 - and only for the 11 km run to Žabeni - the Greeks have still not yet approved any international running. Having said that, neither Greece nor North Macedonia has any international passenger services anyway at this time, partly due to Covid and partly due to lack of suitable serviceable rolling stock. Study of the timetable shows that the service to Žabeni is simply an extension of one return working from Skopje, so it has just the one return journey. Out and back from Skopje to Žabeni takes nearly 10 hours, and I've been to Bitola several times before.So a plan was hatched to do a repeat of what I did in 2014 and have a hire car for a couple of days to do some exploring: this fitted in well with the useful flights from the UK running to Skopje on alternate days.
See trip report for the full itinerary, traction details and notes.
Note: these Žabeni workings were suspended with effect from 25th October 2023.