See the first half of this post, for the high-speed line from Vienna (Wien) to Nagykanizsa, via Szombathely and Zalaegerszeg. This second half describes the section through the Podravina (Drava plain), and on to Beograd (Belgrade).
South of Nagykanizsa, the new high-speed line (HSL) would follow the existing line 60 to Murakeresztúr, near the crossing of the Mura River. Here it would turn onto a completely new alignment, and then cross the Mura and the Drava. It would then run south to Koprivnica, population 31 000, capital of Koprivnica-Križevci County (115 000). The new line could also run through the hills south of Nagykanizsa, passing the village of Surd (orange line), but an alignment through the plains seems easier.
At Koprivnica, the high-speed line (HSL) would split. Fast trains to Zagreb would serve Koprivnica station, using the existing north-south alignment through the town. The route to Zagreb, Croatian line M201, is already a main line, but upgrading is not described further here. Koprivnica is also served by a local line from Varaždin. It could be upgraded (with a cut-off line near Varaždin), for a fast inter-regional service on the axis Graz – Maribor – Ptuj – Koprivnica – Osijek.
From Koprivnica, the HSL would turn south-east along the Drava plain – Podravina. High-speed trains to Belgrade HSL could serve the station, but an eastern bypass would enable them to avoid the town, maintain high speed, and shorten the route to Belgrade.
The HSL along the plain would run approximately parallel to the existing main road (Croatian National Highway 2) and the regional rail line (line R202), as far as Našice. The road and railway mainly follow the edge of the Bilo Gora and Papuk mountains, which parallel the Drava. In places, the HSL would run north of the existing line, but possibly alongside it on straight sections (for instance into Pitomača). From near Pitomača, a 15-km connection is possible across the Drava to Barcs, connecting with Hungarian line 60 to Pécs (population 157 000). With upgrading of the Barcs – Pécs line, this would form a HSL Zagreb – Pécs.
The route along the Podravina to Našice is about 140 km long, with no large towns. There would be a station about half-way, at Virovitica (population 15 000, capital of Virovitica-Podravina county, population 85 000). With some demolition, the HSL can run through the town, very close to the existing alignment. Virovitica would be the interchange point for the parallel regional line, and for a local service from Bjelovar via Kloštar (across the Bilo Gora, line L204).
At Našice itself, a small town with 8000 inhabitants, the HSL can run north of the town, with a link to the existing line in both directions. The existing station must be relocated, but that would bring it closer to the centre.
The existing regional line turns north-east at Našice, toward Osijek, the regional centre of Slavonia (population 108 000). Some trains could therefore leave the HSL, serve Našice, and continue to Osijek, 48 km further. Obviously, that line must be electrified and substantially upgraded. An additional curve would allow trains to reach Osijek without a stop in Našice.
The HSL itself would run on a completely new alignment of about 35 km, to Djakovo (population 19 000). The station would be relocated, and reached by a relatively short tunnel under the north end of the town. The Virovitica – Djakovo section would be 100-105 km long.
South of Djakovo, the line would then turn to the east, to reach the existing alignment of the Zagreb – Beograd line, the ‘main line’ of former Yugoslavia (and a former route of the Orient Express). This is the route of the proposed Sava valley HSL, and the two high-speed lines would join, about 20 km west of Vinkovci.
Parallel to the existing main line, the new HSL would reach the railway junction of Vinkovci, population 32 000. This section of the HSL would be short, about 33 km long. At Vinkovci, there would be interchange with lines in six directions. That could include a new HSL to Pécs via Osijek, and a possible new HSL to Novi Sad, via Vukovar. The line from Sarajevo via Doboj and Šamac, could also be re-routed directly to Vinkovci (at present it joins line M105 at Vrpolje). In combination with the Pécs line, that would re-route Pan-European Corridor Vc through Vinkovci.
East of Vinkovci, the HSL would first follow the main rail line, with a station at Sremska Mitrovica (population 38 000, the capital of Srem or Syrmia, population 311 000). East of this town, it would run alongside the motorway A1/E70: this alignment is shorter than the existing rail line via Stara Pazova. From Vinkovci to Sremska Mitrovica is 75 km, and from there to Belgrade about 72-75 km.
On the outskirts of the city, the line would rejoin the existing alignment, with a short tunnel under a hill between motorway and rail line. It would then cross the Sava River into the old main station, or the new Beograd Centar Station at Prokop. (The ‘new’ central station has in fact been under construction since 1971).
With a population of 1 600 000, Belgrade (Beograd) is the largest city between Vienna / Budapest and Athens / Istanbul. It is a logical terminus for HSL services originating in Vienna, with onward connections to the south and south-east. See the post on Belgrade as a European rail junction.
The section Wien – Sopron is about 63 km long: then (approximately) Sopron – Szombathely 52 km, Szombathely to Zalaegerszeg 55 km, Zalaegerszeg – Nagykanizsa 50 km, Nagykanizsa – Virovitica 95 km, Virovitica – Djakovo 105 km, Djakovo – Vinkovci 33 km, Vinkovci – Sremska Mitrovica, 75 km, and from there to Beograd 75 km. The total length of the new line would be around 600 km. The fastest trains, stopping only in Nagykanizsa, would certainly take less than 4 hours. In fact, a completely new high-speed line, half of it on on level plains, with a maximum speed of 330 km/h, should allow a journey of under 3 h 30 min.