Passenger rail services in Bratislava (population 427 000) are essentially separated into two networks, north and south of the Danube. Trains from the west and south-east go to Petržalka, a suburb south of the river. Trains from the north and east (and from Vienna via Marchegg) pass through the main station Bratislava Hlavná Stanica. Neither station is near the historic city centre (Staré Mesto). There is a rail link between the two stations, but it is very indirect.
The proposed north-south tunnel would solve this problem for long-distance trains. The proposal here is for a second north-south tunnel, and an east-west tunnel, to create an urban-regional metro (S-Bahn, RER) for Greater Bratislava. The network would serve the historic centre, the airport, and some suburbs which at present have no stations. Lines would extend up tot 45 km, beyond the Bratislava Region (Bratislavský kraj, population 607 000). A second tunnel can avoid a disadvantage of the ‘Intercity tunnel’ – the climb to Hlavná Stanica, located on a hillside north of the old town. Using a route further east, the tunnel would go toward the lower western and north-western suburbs. Gradients would therefore be easier.
The proposed network consists of a station in the city centre, with a southern approach line from Petržalka (blue on the diagram). From the station, a line would run north and then split. One line (green) would connect with the old line out of Bratislava Filiálka (the original line to Trnava). The other would turn west, along Záhradnícka / Ružinovská through Ružinov, to the airport (brown). The east-west line (orange) would connect Hlavná Stanica to the Ružinov line. It could have an interchange station with the north line, for instance at Račianska myto, but the network would still function without one.
From these central sections, the lines would extend into the surrounding region. Several lines would share a terminus with lines of the Vienna S-Bahn. Clockwise from the north:
- Malacky via Devínska Nová Ves, on the line to Břeclav (37 km from Hlavná Stanica)
- Pezinok on the Trnava line – or by a short extension to Modra, 27 km from central Bratislava. Alternatively, the line could go to Trnava (49 km from central Bratislava).
- A new airport line: to Ivanka pri Dunaji, via Ružinov and Bratislava airport.
- Dunajska Streda via Ružinov (44 km from Hlavná Stanica), with a branch to Šamorín.
- Mosonmagyaróvár on the Vienna – Budapest line, via a new 12-km cut-off line from Bezenje to Mosonmagyaróvár (35 km from Petržalka).
- Bruck an der Leitha via Kittsee (32 km from Petržalka). Bruck an der Leitha is also on the Vienna – Budapest line, and is the terminus of line 60 of the Vienna S-Bahn. The line could also connect with re-organised regional lines in Burgenland.
- Hainburg an der Donau via the alignment of the former Pressburger Bahn via Wolfsthal. At Hainburg Ungartor, 13 km from Petržalka, the line would have an end-to-end connection with line 7 of the Vienna S-Bahn (present terminus Wolfsthal).
- Gänserndorf on the Vienna – Břeclav line, via Devínska Nová Ves and Marchegg (37 km from Hlavná Stanica). Gänserndorf is the terminus of line 1 of the Vienna S-Bahn.
The line from Senec on the Bratislava – Budapest line would not use the new tunnel, but would continue to serve Hlavná Stanica. It would interchange with the airport line at Ivanka. There would be a less convenient interchange with the Pezinok line, between Predmestie and Vinohrady stations (250 m apart). Senec is 21 km from Hlavná Stanica.
All lines would run through central Bratislava: which branch is connected to which, would depend on traffic, and is not specified here. Shorter routes for urban traffic, for instance Petržalka – centre – airport, are also possible. In central Bratislava, the main issue is the route of the north-south tunnel, and the location of a central station.
The two main route options are along Špitálska / Radlinskeho, or at the eastern edge of the old city, along Karadžičova. The first would continue in tunnel under Račianska, and join the old rail alignment 1200 m along that street. The eastern option would join the old rail line at Šancová. The Špitálska alignment seems better, partly to avoid new construction near the Danube, on the other route. It would allow a station right in the heart of the old town, at Kamenné nám (at the Tesco shopping centre). The central tunnel would be in deep bored tunnel, at 650 m from the river-bank, it would have climbed to about 25-30 under the surface.
The east-west line is fixed by its starting point at Hlavná Stanica, and its route along Záhradnícka / Ružinovská. The best place for the station is under, or just north of, the existing platforms. (The tunnel portal would be further north-west, along the rail line). The link line, from the city-centre station to Ružinovská, would follow the western end of Záhradnícka. Some demolition is inevitable, as these lines would be mainly in cut-and-cover tunnel. Several options for the east-west line are shown, and the possible interchange station with the Rača line at Račianska myto (in red/white). The northern line would have two more stations between Račianska myto and Predmestie Station. At the first of these (at Jerošova), the line would leave the tunnel under Račianska, and continue on the rail alignment, in cut-and-cover tunnel.
The line to/from Petržalka can run east or west of the Aupark shopping centre, with a tunnel portal just north of Petržalka Station. (This last section would be parallel to the proposed north-south Intercity tunnel). South of Petržalka Station, the three branches would split: to Hainburg, to Bruck via Kittsee, and to Mosonmagyaróvár via Rusovce. The Hainburg line can use the old alignment, partly still in use as a freight line. The Rusovce line could be re-aligned to avoid unnecessary curves, partly alongside the Panonska cesta, with a new station at the shopping centres, and possibly another at the south end of Petržalka. The 12-km cut-off line to Mosonmagyaróvár (population 30 000) would start between Rusovce and Bezenje: it would provide a more logical terminus than Hegyeshalom (population 3 500).
Most of the other lines would use existing track, but the airport line would be completely new. The urban section would be a simple cut-and-cover tunnel, under the wide main road through Ružinov (Záhradnícka / Ružinovská). There would be three stations, about 1200 m apart. The line would then pass under the D1 motorway, and turn to the airport, in a straight line across open fields. At Bratislava airport there would be a station at the terminal building. The line would go straight on, under the runway, to join the Bratislava – Budapest line at Ivanka pri Dunaji.
The section through the airport line would also be connected to the existing line around western Bratislava. Trains from the Bratislava – Budapest line could run via the airport to Petržalka, via the Prístavný most rail bridge over the Danube. They could also go via Nové Mesto Station, to Hlavná Stanica. (If additional tracks were built at the stations in Ružinov, the east-west line could also be used for these trains). The airport section could later connect to a high-speed Trnava by-pass, alongside the D1 / E75 motorway, connecting to the Žilina line.
The existing line through the western suburbs is also used, by trains from the Dunajska Streda line. That line would be connected to the Ružinov tunnel, via an upgraded link Ružinov – Vrakuňa (with new stations). From Vrakuňa, the line would be upgraded to regional-metro standards, including a more direct branch to Šamorín. Logically, services from this line would continue through Hlavná Stanica, toward Devínska Nová Ves.
More new stations could be built, on the existing lines in the built-up area – for instance at Rača, and on the line to Devínska Nová Ves. The network proposed here would not conflict with a separate Bratislava metro network, if each line served a separate transport axis. It also forms a basis for expansion, and more intensive use, of the tram network.