Hungary has unveiled plans to build a 70-mile double-track railroad crossing the river Danube to exploit the nation’s geographical location to handle freight moving between eastern and western Europe.
The Hungarian government is weighing whether to raise most of the estimated $1.6 billion cost of the track from a $1.3 billion credit line signed with China last year or to tap European Union funds, which would be cheaper to pay off than Beijing’s credit.
The proposed railroad would pass south of Budapest and link up with an existing rail network that would allow freight trains to travel at nearly 115 miles per hour.
At present, freight trains must pass through the city, where they are crowded out by passenger trains. They can only travel at night and within limited periods because of noise restrictions.
“If a train enters Hungary from the east, it can leave the country only four or five days later,” said Peter Szijjarto, secretary of state at the foreign ministry. “This is why the average speed of freight trains passing through Hungary is 3 km [1.9 miles] per hour. The government wants to reduce these four to five days to a single day.”
Construction is scheduled to start in early 2014 so that the railroad will be ready by 2017.