December 11, 2013

China to finance Belgrade – Budapest upgrade?

Written by  Ferenc Joo
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China to finance Belgrade – Budapest upgrade? Ferenc Joo

THE prospect of Chinese money being used to upgrade the Belgrade – Budapest line was raised again at the recent at the CEE-China summit in Bucharest, where Hungarian prime minister Mr Viktor Orbán signed a treaty on the proposed modernisation project with his Serbian and Chinese counterparts Mr Ivica Dacic and Mr Li Keqiang.

China announced at the last CEE-China summit in Warsaw in 2012 that it intends to set up a $US 10bn fund to finance infrastructure development in central and eastern Europe. This was followed by the signing of a letter of intent by Hungarian State Railways (MÁV) and Serbian Railways (ŽS) in May.

The three countries have now agreed to establish a working group to accelerate the development of the project, which would involve reconstructing the line as a 160km/h double-track railway.

Currently, most of the route is single track and the 349km trip from Budapest to Belgrade takes 7h 45min, although the modernisation of the line could more than halve the journey time to less than three hours. However, no budget or timeline has so far been announced.

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