Hungary’s central location in Europe is one of its key competitive advantages. With four major European transportation corridors running through the country, Hungary is considered to be a gateway and a central hub in Europe. In order to exploit these benefits, Hungary is determined to enhance its infrastructure and improve its integration into the pan-European networks.
It is in the Záhony region at Hungary’s North-Eastern corner and the EU’s Schengen border, that the wide gauge railway system of the CIS countries and the European standard railway gauge system meet. There are two rail border crossing points in the region: Záhony (Hungary) – Chop (Ukraine) and Eperjeske (Hungary) – Batevo (Ukraine). As part of its regional development strategy, the Hungarian Government launched in 2007 a major project to develop the city of Záhony. It is estimated that 60% more freight will transit Zahony region by 2015 and most of the products will need transshipment or logistics services, Zahony providing a series of new interesting business opportunities. “Estimations are made based on the investment and development programme of local transport and freight transshipment infrastructure”, shows a note of the Hungarian Ministry of Transport.
Easy access to western ports
Present at the Railway Days Summit, László Mosóczi, head of Operation Services at Hungarian Railways (MAV), talked about the development of Zahony region as an opportunity “to improve Eurasian traffic through the Hungarian region”. As for the transport of goods on railways in countries adjacent to the Commonwealth of Independent States, 49% of goods are shipped through Poland (Brest region), 25% through Hungary (Zahony region), 21% of goods traffic takes place through Slovakia and 5% through Romania. Zahony region is also important from the point of view of intermodal transport, since the majority of goods that transit the region reaches five of the most important European seaports, Rotterdam, Valencia, Koper, Thessaloniki and Constanţa. Zahony is also an important node for goods reaching Western Europe. Nearly 77% of the goods shipped between China and Europe are transported in containers, while the equivalent between Europe and China reaches only 45%. MAV analysts are expecting a growth in the East-West traffic, especially due to the new significant market opportunities, mainly based on long-distance container traffic between the Far East and Europe, these trends opening the market to “an environmentally friendly sector”, such as railway transport. László Mosóczi talked about “the necessity to develop new large scale railway services in Europe to meet the demands of such a traffic and with a performance level adequate to the maritime alternative still preferred at the moment”. A land transport between Western Europe and Far East (the north of China), that would also cross Zahony region, could last less than 20 days, compared to the maritime transport that is currently taking 35 days. This is also one of the reasons why the government in Budapest supports the development of Zahony region, allocating HUF 32 Billion (EUR 128 Million) on a five-year period, the project financing contract being signed in June 2009. The first phase of the railway infrastructure rehabilitation project began in October 2009 and is due in November 2011, while the second phase of the project began in June 2010 and is due in July 2011. The freight transshipment area in Zahony region has a 84 square metres surface, the 1520 mm lines totalling 140 km and the 1435 mm lines, 260 km. Plans for the development of Zahony region include the establishment of new routes for international freight trains and the reorganisation of main switch yards. Several scheduled block trains connect Hungary to the sea ports of Hamburg, Bremerhaven, Rotterdam and Antwerp on the North Sea, to Koper and Trieste on the Adriatic. The rapidly developing ports on the Adriatic are also connected to Pan-European Transport Corridor V. Lead time to Záhony from these ports is within 16-36 hours by road or direct rail connection. Moreover, in 2009, the Hungarian Transport Minister acknowledged and supported the importance of expanding Corridor D (Valencia-Lyon-Torino-Ljublijana-Budapest) towards Zahony terminal.
by Elena Ilie