WORK has begun to upgrade the Hungarian section of the 350km Budapest - Belgrade line with the laying of a foundation stone and the removal of older track at Kiskunhalas station.

The upgrade of the 166km mostly single-track Hungarian section from Soroksár on the outskirts of Budapest to Kelebia on the Hungarian-Serbian border involves rebuilding 339km of track and installation of ETCS Level 2 by 2025. This will facilitate an increase in line speeds from the current average of between 40-80km/h to 160km/h, with the line designed for up to 200km/h, and will reduce the journey time between Budapest and Belgrade to three hours from eight at present.

A train carrying ballast for the upgrade. Photo: Csaba Réfy

Five station buildings will be replaced while eight stations will be renovated, with the stations having 740m-long and 44cm-high platforms. The axle load on the line will also be increased to 22.5 tonnes.  

Work that began on October 15 includes preparatory works along the 150km line and the transport of track to storage areas. The project is being financed through loans from Chinese banks and is considered part of China’s Belt and Road project.

In August, China Civil Engineering and China Railway 11th Bureau were awarded a contract to undertake the civil engineering and track upgrades for two Serbian sections of the line.