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…
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’).
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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…
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…
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.
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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.