The Hungarian Government approved at the end of December the Budapest Railway Node Strategy which defines the development of the railway network of the capital and its metropolitan area until 2040.
EUR 10 billion is the total value of the investments, third of which is already available until 2029 and which is planned to be funded partially from the country’s Resiliency and Recovery Plan, the Connecting Europe Facility and the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework for the 2021-2027 period.
The strategy contains an indicative list of investments that cover the infrastructure development of heavy-rail lines as well as the currently closed-track suburban HÉV-network, the further replacement and expansion of the rolling stock and the railway services with an emphasis on digitalisation of operations.
The strategy covers four main directions which will significantly develop the rail transport system of the capital and its surrounding area:
- at least four trains per hour departing from each station in the metropolitan area towards Budapest;
- the city should to reach at least three metro lines directly from all railway lines in the metropolitan area;
- the projects should to double the suburban ridership of MÁV services;
- all passenger transport services will be made through a single pass/ticket within the whole region
Budapest Railway Node comprises the railway network in and around the Hungarian capital which is the bottleneck of the national railway network. The metropolitan area network needs to be expanded mostly within Budapest and in the inner circle around the Hungarian capital city in order to increase capacity and service level for the suburban rail services besides ensuring there is sufficient capacity for long-distance trains as well as freight trains. The node is still characterised by terminal stations (Keleti, Déli, Nyugati) inherited from the era of the steam engines and prevents trains from running more frequently as they have to change directions which is time consuming. 99% of all passenger services currently terminate at one of these stations.
In the short term, the Southern Railway Ring project, covering the expansion of the capacity of the only major railway crossing over the Danube now in Budapest, will increase the capacity of three Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) lines and will provide extra capacity for suburban trains as well. The EUR 950 million construction contract entered into force in December 2021 and after certain design tasks are completed the construction will begin in 2023 and will last until 2027. The project contains 3 new major railway stations (Nádorkert in Buda, Közvágóhíd and Népliget in Pest) along the line between Budapest-Kelenföld and Népliget, which will provide better connectivity to the local public transport network.
In the longer-term, the strategy focuses on increasing the throughput of the core network by eliminating Nyugati and Déli as terminal stations and connecting them with a tunnel. And so Nyugati would become the city’s, or in fact, the country’s main railway station. The 4.5 km long railway tunnel would be constructed under the Danube and would be the first urban railway tunnel in the history of Hungary. As a first step, BFK is to complete its feasibility study developed by local engineering firm Főmterv as a main contractor and SMA and Partners and UN Studio as subcontractors responsible respectively for the engineering aspects of the tunnel, the schedule concept and urban development master plan in the wider areas around the current stations.
At the same time an international design competition for the renewal of the Nyugati station and its surroundings was launched in 2021 which has entered into the design phase with the participation of 12 major international architectural firms who must submit their plans in the spring of this year. The new Nyugati will contain 13 tracks on the surface and 8 underground, the future station for trains arriving from the planned tunnel.
The strategy and its proposed projects includes the renewal of the separate suburban railway services HÉV, now operated by MÁV-HÉV, a subsidiary of MÁV Hungarian Railways. On the north-south axis H5 would be connected in a tunnel with H6 and H7 while on the east-west axis H8 and H9 would be refurbished and integrated with metro line M2. Subsequently new rolling stock will be required as well.
In addition, the strategy outlines plans to procure an extra 120 EMUs and almost 100 HÉV EMUs besides the up to 120 Flirt trains and the 40 Kiss double-deckers whose delivery is to be completed by the end of this year.
The strategy was commissioned by BFK, the Budapest Development Agency, in close cooperation with the Ministry of Innovation and Technology (ITM), MÁV Hungarian Railways, the National Infrastructure Company (NIF) with the support of the Municipality of Budapest.