Based on the Railway Act, the elements of the railway infrastructure in Hungary are classified in five regional categories. These serve different purposes and various conditions must be fulfilled in order to operate and use them.
Open access railway infrastructure: the length of the Hungarian rail network is 7690 km. There are two infrastructure managers in Hungary, the MÁV Hungarian State Railways (MÁV Co.) and GySEV. The major part (7,251 km) of the network is managed by MÁV Co. There are no high-speed lines in Hungary. The national infrastructure includes 2,830 kilometres of lines operating as part of the Trans-European freight corridors, as well as all other major nation-wide railway lines.
The Hungarian government also considers the country to provide a favourable geo-strategic position as four of the ten pan-European transport corridors affect the country. Hungary is located at the intersection of these corridors, which should enable the logistics industry to develop hub functions for regional and international freight flows.
Corridor IV: Dresden/Nuremberg – Prague – Brno – Vienna – Bratislava – Gyôr – Budapest– Arad (- Bucharest – Constanța) – Craiova – Sofia (- Plovdiv – Istanbul) – Thessaloniki
Corridor V: Venice – Trieste – Koper – Ljubljana – Maribor – Budapest –
Corridor VII (the river Danube): Ulm – Regensburg – Passau – Vienna – Bratislava – Komárno – Gyôr (Gönyû) – Budapest – Baja – Osijek – Novi Sad – Belgrade – Rusze – Lom – Galați
Corridor X/b: Budapest – Belgrade (- Nis – Skopje – Thessaloniki)
The European Commission approved Hungary’s Integrated Transport Development Operational Programme (ITOP), that is mobilising EU funds of HUF 1,032 billion (EUR 3.4 billion) to provide support among others for the construction of still missing road sections between the country borders and county seats, the electrification of railway lines, the elimination of railway bottlenecks and slow zones, the acquisition of suburban multiple units and local buses and the establishment of passenger transport hubs and transit connections.
In addition, the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) may contribute by another HUF 400 billion (EUR 1.3 billion) to the development of the Hungarian sections of international road, railway and waterway core network corridors.
Within the framework of the two operational programmes- Integrated Transport Development Operational Programme (ITOP) and the Environment and Energy Efficiency Operational Programme (EEEOP)- Hungary can spend, considering own funds as well, almost HUF 2,400 billion (EUR 7.8 billion) on transport, environmental and energy efficiency investments in the years to come.
The renewal of rolling stock is essential for a better quality of service and operation of public and freight transport. At the same time upgrading plans should be based on railway master plans which include an analysis of the role and potential of lines, as well as integrated approaches to market and operate the line.
In 2015 the European Commission has approved an investment of more than EUR 220 million from the Cohesion Fund (out of a total investment of almost EUR 260 million needed) to modernise the rolling stock fleet within the Hungarian regional railways with the purchase of 42 trains. The project is supposed to be completed by the end of the year.
The new vehicles are intended to be operated on suburban and regional traffic lines which connect Budapest to Esztergom, to Veresegyház and Vác, to Vác and Szob, to Monor and Cegléd, to Székesfehérvár, and to Pusztaszabolcs.
TEN-T priority rail projects
– Rail Budapest – Hegyeshalom – Wien
– Rail Ljubljana – Budapest
National rail projects
– Székesfehérvár – Boba
– Budapest – Székesfehérvár
– Budapest – Miskolc –
– Dombovar – Budapest – Gyekenyes
– Budapest – Hegyeshalom
– Budapest – Szob
– Szolnok – Lököshaza
– Budapest – Ferencvaros – Kelebia – Border
– Slovakia (Salgótarján border) and Romania (Debrecen border)
– Vienna – Sopron – Sombathely – Graz
Transport Development Plan (2015/2025)
The transport development plan contains the following four horizontal aims:
• Improved accessibility
• Sustainable transport (public transport, cycling, pedestrian)
• Modernisation of transport fleet and existing services (tram & metro and trams in Hungarian big cities; suburban rail, regional bus companies, rail freight fleet)
Promotion of integration of modes (seamless transport chain, logistic centres)
• providing a modern vehicle fleet meeting the demands and requirements (including the demands of disabled users);
• use of the intelligent transport systems, providing more efficient utilisation of transportation infrastructure and services
As mentioned above, based on the National Transport and Infrastructure Development Strategy, the Integrated Transport-Development Operational Programme (ITOP) in Hungary has been set up for the 2014-2020 period with EUR 3,92 billion (EU support rate is around 85%).
The Programme will focus on improving the international railway accessibility and developing sustainable urban and suburban rail transport. Improved travel times on railways is also an objective of the Programme, thus close to 280 km railway line will be upgraded.
The Hungarian Government expects public transport to become a more attractive alternative with over 132 km metro, tram and local train lines to be built or upgraded.
The funds are allocated from the Cohesion Fund with EUR 2.7 billion and from the Regional Development Fund (ERDF) with EUR 631 million.
Almost two-thirds of ITOP’s total budget is allocated for the development of the TEN-T network, and at the same time for the development of rail and urban transport, as opposed to road transport.
China signed separate deals with Hungary and Serbia to construct and revamp a rail link between Budapest and Belgrade. The rail link could cut travel time between the two capitals by more than half. The project for the modernisation of the Belgrade-Budapest railway was initially agreed upon in 2013. The cooperation plan for the construction of the railway was signed at the beginning of 2015. According to the plan, the construction of the railway should begin in 2016, after a feasibility study and financial model are agreed upon, with the railway scheduled to be fully completed in 2017.
On the Hungarian territory the 166-km line is estimated at HUF 472 billion (EUR 1.5 billion). “The double-track and fully electrical line will accommodate even the largest freight trains, while passenger trains could travel the line at 160 kph. Construction is expected to take 2 to 2.5 years”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said.
The construction of a line connecting the capital with Liszt Ferenc International Airport Budapest, the renovation of Keleti and Nyugati train stations in Budapest and the purchase of multiple units by state-owned railway company MAV are included in the ITOP railway projects planning.
The European Commission adopted the 2014-2020 cross border cooperation programme between Slovakia and Hungary. With a total budget of EUR 172 million, with EUR 146 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the programme aims to boost employment, promote sustainable tourism and improve mobility in investing in public transport and new connections in the Hungarian-Slovak border region.
Hungary has made the transition from a centrally planned to a market economy, with a per capita income nearly two-thirds that of the EU-28 average. The main investing countries are Germany, the Netherlands and Austria. Growth potential is still held back by weak investment, low employment among low-skilled workers and shortcomings in labour and product markets, making further structural reforms essential. Hungary has also become one of the most attractive places in Central and Eastern Europe for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Foreign capital stock in Hungary has almost trebled to HUF 15,164 billion (EUR 59.9 billion). Hungary’s economic growth has generally been weak since the start of the crisis, and growth accelerated significantly only since 2014, according to the European Commission country report.
by Elena Ilie