TRAINS will commence operating on the 200km/h Belgrade - Novi Sad line from March 15, Serbian minister of construction, transport and infrastructure Mr Tomislav Momirović has confirmed.

China Civil Engineering and China Railway 11th Bureau are conducting civil engineering and track upgrades for the 350km railway between Hungary and Serbia under a Yuan 2.4bn ($US 370.4m) contract.

Testing on the railway is due to begin in January, ahead of the start of passenger operations.

The line includes a 184km section in Serbia and 166km in Hungary and is designed to reduce journey times between Belgrade and Budapest from eight hours to less than three hours. Currently some line speeds on the route are as low as 60km/h. When fully operational, the double-track electrified railway will be used by freight and passenger trains.

Momirović says the project remains on schedule. "The reality is that in our country trains are running quite slowly, and we expect that in a few months journeys from from Belgrade to Novi Sad will take 30 minutes and that trains on this section will run at 200km/h,” he says.

The 108.1km NS-I Novi Sad - Subotica section is being reconstructed along with the 34.5km Belgrade - Stara Pazova section. The Novi Sad - Subotica section is due to be completed by the end of 2024.

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