Renovation of the Budapest-Belgrade railway line would boost regular rail transport between the Greek port and Western Europe through our country.
Budapest, 13rd June 2014 – In the last weeks the first five container trains arrived to our country from the Greek Port of Piraeus, which receives the goods coming from China to this region and forwards it to Western Europe. To improve scheduled transit freight similar to the current one to Western Europe, the railway line connecting Belgrade and Budapest needs to be renovated, so the government prioritises the developmental investment.
Following lengthy preparations, the South-East European international freight subsidiaries (DB Schenker) of Deutsche Bahn (DB) organised the transport of the first container train to leave the Greek Port of Piraeus and arrive to our country on 29th April – to the DB Schenker Rail Hungaria terminal in Győr via Belgrade and Budapest and through the authorisation of Schenker Kft. and the customs office. The other train left the dock terminal on 2nd May, from where it arrived to the Ferencváros railway station in less than three days and six hours earlier than scheduled. From here, it was forwarded to the Little Plain county seat (Kisalföld megyeszékhely). From Győr to Slovakia the consignment continued its route via public roads. The fittings were transported by Rail Cargo Hungaria Zrt. in Hungary.
Three other container trains arrived in May and June organised by DB Schenker. The sixth fitting will leave Piraeus on 16th June and arrive to Ceska Trebov with Hungarian transit. Regular dispatches of trains are expected in the future, one train per week.
There is growing possibility for similar rail freight transport across our country since the Port of Piraeus, situated in the near vicinity of Athens, is now under the of control of one of the globally leading companies in shipping, China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO), which carried out significant developments. COSCO acquired the right to operate the Port of Piraeus, one of the busiest ports of the Mediterranean Sea for 35 years in 2009. COSCO delivers goods arriving on ships from East China to Europe to the base in Port of Piraeus. The Chinese shipping company continuously modernises and expands the port's capacity, and it wishes to multiply the quantity of containers passing through the port. The Chinese goods are planned to be transported to Western Europe on the environmentally friendly railway, there will therefore be a significant increase in the number of container trains transported from the Piraeus to the interior of the continent on a transit route.
Hungary is situated along the transit network between the Greek port and Western Europe and a part of one of the shortest routes is the railway line connecting Budapest and Belgrade. The electrified, but outdated and one-track railway line is currently not suitable for fast, modern, competitive freight traffic, which has to be based on infrastructure ensuring good quality, reliability, interoperability of lines and increase in service standards.
The investment, which ensures the competitiveness of the Budapest-Belgrade line and contributes to reaching the aim of making Hungary the main transit country of eastern goods delivered to Western Europe, is made top priority by the government. Serbia already modernised a 40-km-long section of the 374 km railway line, so a 334 km section has to be converted into a two-track, high-speed electrified railway route. This would decrease the running time from the current 7-8 hours to 3,5 hours and would make rail transport on this route in a few years become competitive with personal and freight transport on public roads and even with air transport.
Ilona Dávid, CEO of MÁV Zrt. and Dragoljub Simonović, Director General of Serbian Railways signed a Memorandum of Understanding in May 2013 to build a double-track, electrified line capable of supporting trains running at 160 km/h between the two capitals. Hungary, Serbia and China agreed on the upcoming renovations last November in Bucharest, at the Central and Eastern Europe-China summit and the total value of the enterprise improving competitiveness is 3 billion dollars. MÁV is responsible for the meetings targeting the technical implementation, taking into account that the restored railway line is to take on high-speed international passenger and freight traffic, and the development should also bring improvement in the Hungarian and Budapest commuter traffic.
Last week, in the first session of the Chinese, Hungarian and Serbian governments' joint committee in Beijing, an agreement was reached concerning the preliminary implementation plan to be completed by the end of June, which would contain recommendations regarding the Chinese credit conditions needed for the investment.