Hungary eyes construction of high-speed railway to Romania's Bucharest

Hungary's government is interested in the construction of a high-speed railway line linking Budapest to Romania's capital Bucharest, Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban has said.

Hungary hopes that a high-speed rail link between Budapest and Bucharest can be launched after the project for modernisation of the railway line connecting Budapest to Serbia's Belgrade, Orban said last week, according to a Hungarian government press release.

In February 2018, Hungarian foreign minister Peter Szijjarto said the government approved financing of 1 billion forints ($3.5 million/3.1 million euro) for a feasibility study on a project for the construction of a high-speed railway line linking Budapest to Cluj, in western Romania.

"The Hungarian government has no objections regarding Romania’s plan of extending the high-speed railway to Bucharest,” Romanian news agency Mediafax quoted Szijjarto as saying back then.

The contracts for the modernisation of the Budapest-Belgrade railway will be signed soon, Orban said during the 9th Summit of Central and Eastern European Countries and China held in Croatia's Dubrovnik. The rail link will offer the fastest freight route between China and Western Europe, Orban added.

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Hungary's state-run railway operator MAV opened a tender for the overhaul of the Budapest-Belgrade railway line in 2017. The project envisages the upgrade of the railway line connecting Soroksar, on the outskirts of Budapest, to Kelebia, on the border with Serbia, to a design speed of 200 km/h, under the specifications of the Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-T).

Serbia launched the project for the overhaul of the Belgrade-Stara Pazova section of the railway line in November 2017. The overhaul represents the first cross-border project carried out by Serbia, Hungary and China in the framework of the China-Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC) cooperation initiative.