Budapest-Belgrade railway project, Europe
The obsolete Budapest-Belgrade railway is being modernized to improve connectivity between Hungary and Serbia. The modernization project will provide a 350 km double-track electrified high-speed rail network and improve passenger services.
The cross-border rail line is brought up to European standards. The project is an important part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a global project of the Chinese government aimed at connecting Asia with Africa and Europe.
Context of the project
China, Hungary and Serbia reached an agreement for the construction of the Belgrade-Budapest high-speed railway project at the “16 + 1 initiative” summit, which was held in Belgrade in December 2014. .
The “16 + 1” group, which includes 16 Central and Eastern European countries (CEECs) as well as China, focuses on strengthening cooperation between nations in the fields of economy, culture and infrastructure.
Budapest-Belgrade railway project details
The project includes the construction of new tracks and the reconstruction of existing tracks along the route. About 166 km of the railway will be located in Hungary, while the remaining 184 km will be in Serbia. The dual-use railway will carry passengers and freight between the Serbian and Hungarian capitals.
The Serbian side of the rail link has three sections, namely the Belgrade-Stara Pazova state border sections 34.5 km long, Stara Pazova-Novi Sad 40.4 km and Novi Sad-Subotica 107, 4 km long. The line will have a nominal speed of 200 km / h, while the trains on the route will be able to run at a speed of 160 km / h.
The modernization of the rail link involves the construction of a new second track to deliver a double track line for the transport of passengers and goods, as well as the reconstruction of the existing single track line.
Construction of the Serbian section of the project started in 2018. The 34.5 km long Belgrade-Stara Pazova section, which is the third section of the Budapest-Belgrade railway, was commissioned in March 2021.
The Belgrade-Stara Pazova section involved modifications to the railway route, stations and station equipment. In addition, it included the construction of rail / road level crossings and trackside infrastructure, such as bridges, viaducts and underpasses.
The section has been fitted with modern signaling and telecommunications systems to enable rapid transmission of information to locomotive cabs for safe and efficient transportation. About 27 km of new tracks were laid, 84 km of tracks were rebuilt and 150 switches were replaced. The section has been upgraded to level two of the European Train Control System (ETCS).
The foundation stone for the construction of the Hungarian section was laid in October 2021. The entire project is expected to be completed by 2025.
The project is mainly funded by the Chinese government. The Hungarian government has secured a loan worth $ 2.1 billion from China, which is about 85% of the investment required for the Hungarian part of the project, in 2020.
Serbia also entered into a loan agreement, worth $ 297 million, with the Export-Import Bank of China. The total cost of the 184 km long Serbian section is about $ 2 billion. The remainder of the investment in the project will be made by the Serbian and Hungarian governments for the completion of their respective sections.
Benefits of the Budapest-Belgrade railway project
The journey time between Budapest and Belgrade is expected to be reduced from eight hours to three and a half hours, once the project is completed.
The upgrade will facilitate the rapid transport of Chinese goods between Greek ports and Western Europe. It should also transform Hungary into a regional logistics hub.
The Belgrade Center-Stara Pazova section of the high-speed rail line was built by the consortium of China Railway International (CRI) and China Communication Construction Company (CCCC).
The Belgrade Center-Stara Pazova section was designed by the CIP Transport Institute, a design and engineering company based in Serbia.
A joint venture (JV) of the German company DB Engineering & Consulting, Utiber and Cestra was commissioned to oversee the modernization and renovation of the Belgrade-Stara Pazova section.
DB Engineering & Consulting was also hired to serve as a technical consultant for the reconstruction and upgrade of the Stara Pazova-Novi Sad section. China Railway Design Corporation (CRDC) provided the design for the Novi Sad-Subotica section, while the CRI-CCCC consortium was selected for the construction of the Novi Sad-Subotica section.
German engineering services company Peri provided assistance for the construction of the Cortanovci viaduct on the Stara Pazova-Novi Sad section.
The international transport and logistics company AsstrA has been awarded a contract to provide transit and customs documentation services for the transport of containers for the construction of the project.
A consortium of Chinese and Hungarian companies, CRE Consortium, won the $ 2.07 billion construction contract for the Hungarian section of the line in 2019. The consortium includes the subsidiary of the Hungarian manufacturing company Opus Global RM International, China Tiejiuju Engineering & Construction and China Railway Electrification Engineering Group.