After billions from Russia, Hungary invests in region bordering Ukraine

The Hungarian government is going to invest 12.4 billion Hungarian forint (around 35 million euros) in the Záhony region, the region bordering Ukraine. It made this announcement last Friday, just three days after Russia had committed its backing of the Budapest Bypass line. Less than a week later, Eurogate announced a whole new network of railway lines to and from Fenyestlitke, where the border terminal East West Gate is currently erected.

The Záhony region has gotten the attention of the international logistics industry. The border region was for a long time neglected, but it could play an important role on the New Silk Road, as an alternative gate to especially the southeastern countries of Europe. This is now being realised by more players than just a few pioneers.

Hungarian funds

The Hungarian government published its new plans in the Hungarian Gazette on 4 February. It details that in total, 2,970 metres of wide gauge track and 4,618 metres of normal gauge track will be constructed in the area. Moreover, 18 sidings will be upgraded and the existing railway lines will be modernised.

This, according to the official note, will benefit the infrastructure of Záhony Wide station and Fenyestlitke South Management station (translated names). The 12.4 billion fund must be included in this year’s budget, and the Hungarian national railway company MAV is responsible for carrying out the project.

Eurogate to Fenyestlitke

The infrastructure upgrades had long been promised, but are now more concrete. The management of East West Gate, a new modern facility in Fenyestlitke that is to be operational in April this year, anticipated it could offer a capacity of a million TEUs, provided that the Hungarian infrastructure improvements were made.

Hamburg-based Eurogate announced this week that it has set up a network of connections to Fenyestlitke, including locations as Hamburg, Duisburg, Vienna, Milan and Arad. “Our rail services are now ready for use, ahead of the East-West Gate terminal’s operational start. Our seamless, non-stop rail connections are available as a block train service to all destinations. In addition, if you are interested in services to other locations, our team is more than happy to support your individual requests”, the company writes on its Linkedin page.

Eurogate network to Fenyestlitke

Russian incentive

Could the Hungarian willingness to commit to the region be spiked by the Russian commitment to its neighbouring country? Perhaps. End of January, Russia said it wanted to help finance the construction of railway line V0, the Hungarian bypass to Budapest that will connect the border with Ukraine to the border with Austria. Several media reported that an amount of 2 billion dollars had been named, apart from the sharing of know-how.

When speaking about the Záhony region last October, Levente Magyar, deputy minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary told RailFreight.com: “By developing the industrial region of Záhony, Eastern Hungary is going to be placed back to the map of international railway logistics and will have the opportunity to become a key actor in continental rail freight between Asia and Europe.”

He also acknowledged the need for construction of up-to-date intermodal freight terminals, however, he noted at that time that the basic traffic infrastructure was already in place. “The lack of advanced railway connections among neighbouring countries and slow travel times still pose a challenge for us”, he added.

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Author: Majorie van Leijen

Majorie van Leijen is the editor-in-chief of RailFreight.com, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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