High-speed rail line Szentgotthárd – Maribor

This is the second half of a proposal for a high-speed rail line along the eastern flanks of the Alps, from Wien (Vienna) to Maribor. The first part described the line from Wien (Vienna) to Szentgotthárd, via Sopron and Szombathely. This part describes the more difficult alignment, from there to Maribor. Szentgotthárd (population 9000) would be primarily an interchange station, for the regional rail lines. From the station, the new line would first follow the existing line, along the Rába / Raab valley, the Steirische Ostbahn. At Jennersdorf it would turn south, to cross the ridges between the Raab and the plain of the Mur / Mura river. At Doiber it would enter a side valley, turning south-south-west.

Click to enlarge: View west along the hills between the Raab and the Mura…

View west along the hills between the Raab and the Mura


From this small valley, the new line would enter a tunnel, from Windisch Minihof to Matjaševci or Kuzma. From Kuzma, it would run south through the valley of the Lukaj stream, to the reservoir Ledavsko jezero. It would then pass east of the lake, into the broad plain of the river Mura, named simply Ravansko (‘the plain’).

Click to enlarge:


Passing west of Cankova, the line would turn toward the Apače basin (Apaško polje). It would pass Bad Radkersburg and Gornja Radgona – in fact a single town on the river Mur / Mura (Gornja Radgona is Oberradkersburg in German). About 3200 people live on each side, the Austrian half is a district capital (Bezirk Radkersburg, population 23 000). The town was divided in 1919 by the Treaty of Saint-Germain.

Near the town, the alignment should allow for a diverging new line to Murska Sobota, and on to Zalaegerszeg. Murska Sobota is the regional centre of Prekmurje. The line should have a station at Radkersburg, but it is difficult to combine this with the function of the high-speed line. The most radical option would be a station near the existing road bridge. However, the hill at Gornja Radgona extends to the river, and the rail line would then cut through the town, near its centre. Two other possible options are shown. The line from Maribor (white) could split in the Apaško polje, with a tunnel under the hill to a station in Gornja Radgona (red). In that case there would be no station on the high-speed line. Alternatively, the Murska Sobota line (blue) would split at a junction station north of Radkersburg, but that station would be several km from the town.

Click to enlarge: Radkersburg and Gornja Radgona from the north…

Radkersburg and Gornja Radgona from the north

Alternative diverging alignments from HSL at Bad Radkersburg

Between Radkersburg / Radgona and Maribor, the line would first make use of the flat ground of the Apaško polje, and then turn south-west toward Maribor. Here too, it would cross a system of valleys and ridges (each about 100 m above valley floor). Many alignments are possible here, making use of some valleys to reduce tunnelling. Most of them would be about 30 km long.

Click to enlarge: one possible alignment from Szentgotthard to Maribor…

One possible from Szentgotthard to Maribor


Nearer to Maribor, there is a polje at Pernica, and this flat ground is used by the new motorway to Murska Sobota. The new rail line could follow a similar alignment, before entering a final 3-km tunnel to Maribor station. The south portal of this tunnel would be on the hill just north of Maribor station, avoiding an alignment through the built-up area.

Click to enlarge:

HSL tunnel north from Maribor, toward Wien / Vienna via Sopron.

Maribor is the obvious regional centre (population 111 000). The nearest larger cities are Graz, Zagreb, and Ljubljana. Here, the new line would connect to the existing main line to Ljubljana. A new high-speed line on this axis has been proposed, but there are no concrete plans. The line from Wien would also connect to the proposed HSL to Zagreb. There are regional services to Graz, along the Drava to Klagenfurt, to Ptuj and Čakovec, and along the main line to Celje.

The section Wien – Sopron is 63 km long, , Sopron – Szombathely 52 km, Szombathely – Szentgotthárd 53 km, and Szentgotthárd – Maribor approximately 75 km – giving a total length for the new line, of around 245 km. Not all trains would stop at all stations, and the fastest trains should offer a Wien – Maribor journey of about 90 minutes.

High-speed rail line Szentgotthárd – Maribor

3 thoughts on “High-speed rail line Szentgotthárd – Maribor

  1. I would suggest two changes to the proposals of yours. First a realignment between Sopron and Sombathely would better align close to the railwaystation of Köszeg which actually is at the open plain side of the city. In this way Köszeg no longer would be an end station as is the case of today.

    The other change would be to include Körmend though with an realignment next to the city, and importantly-, instead of continuing towards Szengottárd than rather cross the hills of Örseg towards Zálalövö and to connect with the TEN corridor V line. This would preferably make it possible to stop at Öriszentpéter and Murska Sobota in adittion to Körmend and other addittional stations with less frequencies (due to an shifted stopping pattern or suplemental regional services). As I see it would this reduce costs since less tunnel drilling will be required especially due to following east-west valleys and that more infrastructure will be there in advance or in the planning as part of the TEN-V corridor.

    The other advantage of connecting the lines across Örseg is that the Graz – Szentgothárd line can thus also be branched creating room for an effective Graz – Zalaegerszeg – Sármellék – Kaposvár – Pécs – Osjiek – Belgrade service among other possibilities, for instance towards Budapest in warious forms. Interconnection points doesn’t have to be at the most populous region centers as long as the connecting trains make transfer effective and possible with little effort.

    The last thing I would mention is that what I suggest would also benefit both minority Slovenes living in Hungary for travels to northern regional centre of Slovakia, Maribor, as your proposals also do, but also benefit the Hungarian minority in Slovakia even more since it makes it possible to reach all the westernmost regional centers of Hungary while the corridor TEN-V leads just towards Zalaegerszeg.

    Minus though with built line between Slovenia and Hungary, known as main line in concept TEN-V, is the speed limit which should have been more ambitious.

    1. infrastruct says:

      The proposed line would not have a station at Kőszeg, so there is no need to align it close to the town. The solution for Kőszeg is re-opening of the Burgenlandbahn, which is supported by local governments in the region.

      The proposed junction at Radkersburg / Gornja Radgona would allow a new line from Maribor to Zalaegerszeg: see Inter-regional line Maribor – Prekmurje – Zalaegerszeg. That line would connect to other regional lines. The option of a HSL through Murska Sobota was deliberately avoided. There would also be another HSL east from Maribor, the HSL Maribor – Ptuj – Koprivnica. The high-speed route toward Pécs would use that line. In addition, the existing main line via Kotoriba would be upgraded to connect with the proposed Balaton HSL.

      You say that “Interconnection points doesn’t have to be at the most populous region centers as long as the connecting trains make transfer effective and possible with little effort.” However, if you look at other proposals at this blog, you will see that the lines run through major regional centres. The 19th-century railways in Europe often had main junctions at very small villages. An example is Vrpolje, on Pan-European Corridor Vc, see Vinkovci – Šamac cutoff line. This pattern of services is now obsolete, and several proposals at this blog are intend to avoid this type of station.

      You are correct, that the proposals here do not improve the Graz – Zalaegerszeg route. It would still require change of train at several stations. That could be covered in a new post. However, the line from Murska Sobota to Zalaegerszeg through Öriszentpéter has only regional significance. There is certainly no reason for a HSL station there. The designation of the line as a European corridor was made for political reasons, which are less relevant with all the states in the EU and Schengen.

      The proposals here ignore borders, and do not generally consider national or ethnic questions. However, they do take account of the regional structure before the First World War, when the region was a single political entity. The post-1918 borders disrupted the regional economy and infrastructure. The proposals here are partly intended to correct that – but not to benefit specific ethnic or national groups.

      1. I do not disagree with you points, what so ever, there will not be any chance of building all those lines you are proposing, at least not as HSR lines unless political decisions are revisited/changed. I did not know about the reopening of Köseg thus reconnecting into Austria and creating a complete parallel to the Sopron line.

        My point was mostly about that the Ten-V corridor actually is, if I am right, both planned and being built through the Örseg region and that it is strikingly close to the Szentgotthard-Szombathely line which in turn makes an upgraded cross section viable for combined goods and passenger services. If however corridor V rather followed your proposal through Lenti-, I for certain would favor the alignments you have proposed in this particular region. What I wonder about is though wether there is a slightest political possibility that the corridor V would be moved to Lenti.

        In relation to corridor V there is obviously also a possibility to make a much more straight line between Zalaegerszeg and Vesprém than the present tracks do. I favour your proposal of Lenti over the present hödos line, both cases would certainly benefit most from straighter line between Zalaegerszeg and Budapest where traffic volume also is and will be the biggest.

        Regarding specific ethnic or national groups my sentiments are like yours and I agree strongly that there is a huge potential to restore cross border infrastructure which in turn will generate vitality and boost economy to the long time isolated border areas of eastern and central europe. My mentions of minorities across country borders are rather a voice against borders which in turn can reduce nationalism and other oddities which hopefully just are remnants from the past.

        One of the main problems with infrastructure plans all over Europe is that they are very territorial and thus doesn’t seek the shortest distance between the Major cities across national borders. I see that your approach is coherent with the border-less Europe in which the European future is heading to. This is very good indeed and I appreciate your huge effort towards it with your weblog.

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