February 28, 2013

Hungary to build new freight line

Written by  Ferenc Joo
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THE Hungarian government has given the go-ahead for a long-discussed project to build a 113km freight line between Tatabánya and Cegléd, by-passing Budapest. This would be the biggest new railway construction in the country since 1912.

The new electrified line will be a double track, and will accommodate speeds of up to 160km/h, although it will be designed only for use by freight trains. With junctions towards Székesfehérvár, Pusztaszabolcs and Kelebia, the line will serve traffic from Austria, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Romania and Ukraine.

The proposed route of the new railway is virtually the same in length as the current trip via Budapest and would cost Forints 300bn ($US 1.34bn) to develop. It is the least expensive of all the alternatives examined, apart from developing the existing route through Budapest which would cost 20% less.

Funding for the project is most likely to come from European Union funds, and if secured, construction could begin in 2017 with the line taking three years to build.

However, a recent €1bn cooperation agreement between the Hungarian government and the China Development Bank (CDB) might be used an alternative source for financing construction. If the government decides to proceed with this option, construction could start as early as 2014 and be completed in 2017. Chinese investment was expected to fund the proposed Budapest airport railway. However, with the demise of Hungarian national air carrier MALÉV in spring 2012, this has been dropped from the agenda in favour of the Tatabánya - Cegléd line and possibly a high-speed connection from Budapest to Belgrade.

A final decision on financing the project is expected from the Hungarian government in the second half of 2013.

• Meanwhile, Stadler has won a contract worth €266.8m from Hungarian passenger operators MÁV-Start and GySEV for 48 low-floor Flirt emus.

MAV-Start will receive 42 of the trains and GySEV will receive six. The vehicles are almost identical to the 60 class 5341 Flirts already operated by MAV-Start and the four ordered by GySEV, on which Stadler is due to start construction at its plant in Szolnok, Hungary, in April.

The trains will seat 200 passengers and have a top speed of 160km/h. They will be fitted with ETCS signalling equipment and operated on MÁV-Start's Budapest - Győr, Budapest - Székesfehérvár, and Budapest - Szolnok - Debrecen - Nyíregyháza services. Delivery is set for between March and September 2015, with EU funds set to finance the purchase of the new trains.

Stadler was the sole bidder for the contract although seven other companies purchased the tender documents. However, after MÁV-START and GySEV instituted a short deadline between the call for tender and submission date they each declined to make an offer.

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