Railway porosity across the border
From Ottoman railway lines to contemporary migrant transportation
in Border porosities
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This chapter examines the effects of the construction in 1871 of the Thessaloniki–Mitrovica railway line that connected the Ottoman towns of Thessaloniki, Gevgelija, Veles, Skopje, Mitrovica, and, later on, Niš and Belgrade. This railway line played a crucial role in the connection and mobility of people, military equipment, food, and other commodities. This vuggy or elongated porosity was the main factor facilitating the modernization of this area, which continued to generate subsequent concentric or moldic porosities with the opening of further railway lines. The analysis begins with the construction and the completion of this main line. Its history tells a story of the last decades of Ottoman rule, as well as the final defeat of the Ottomans during World War One. The socialist period also enabled strong porosity by linking Yugoslavia with Athens to the south, and northwards with Munich and points further to the north, putting Gevgelija and its train station on the map for many travelers. With the dissolution of Yugoslavia, the train services became, at best, less reliable, but were nonetheless crucial for the transfer of migrants in 2015-16. The current disruption of the train service between Thessaloniki–Gevgelija, where passengers cross the border by bus, is the first instance since the line’s opening in 1879 of services not being open to people on both sides of the border.

Border porosities

Movements of people, objects, and ideas in the southern Balkans

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