This high-speed line (HSL) would connect the proposed Drava plain high-speed line to Pécs. It would be used by services to Pécs from Ljubljana, Maribor, and Zagreb. With a possible HSL between Budapest and Pécs, it would form an alternative Budapest – Zagreb route. Pécs, with a population of 157 000, is the only large city between Budapest and Slavonia. The line along the Podravina (Drava plain) would start from a junction just north of Koprivnica. The high-speed line from Vienna (Wien) via Nagykanizsa would split. A HSL to Zagreb would use the existing north-south alignment through Koprivnica. The HSL to Beograd (Belgrade) would by-pass the town. Trains from Zagreb to Pécs would pass through Koprivnica, and then connect to the Beograd line. At Koprivnica, a high-speed inter-regional line from Maribor would also connect to the route proposed here.
Approaching Pitomača, 40 km east of Koprivnica, the new line would be built beside the existing Croatian line R202). From Pitomača, a 15-km connection would diverge from the Beograd HSL, and cross the Drava River to Barcs.
Barcs itself is a small town (population 12 000), but it could be served by fast inter-regional services. The new line would enter Barcs from the west, along the existing alignment of Hungarian rail line line 60. Barcs station is on the south side of the town, almost on the river. The station area has more than enough room for additional infrastructure. There is a road bridge at Barcs, one of the few over the Drava. From the bridge, a new by-pass alongside the rail line avoids the town.
From Barcs, the existing rail line to Pécs is about 65 km long. It is almost entirely straight, and it can probably be upgraded for over 200 km/h – only the curve at Szentlőrinc needs to be re-aligned. Three tracks would be needed, to separate local and freight trains. From Szentlőrinc, where line 40 from Budapest joins the line, four tracks would be needed. One more town might be served by interregional fast trains: Szigetvar (population 11 000), about half-way between Barcs and Pécs.
The city of Pécs is located at the foot of the Mecsek range (the vertical axis is exaggerated on the image). The rail line runs east-west, south of the historic city. Most of the urban area lies north of the rail line, but the station is within 1500 m of the historic centre (Belváros). The old map, from an 1890s encyclopedia, shows the station built on more level ground, south of the city as it then was.
Pécs station also has more than enough room for expansion. Although it is a through station, the service pattern is assymetric. The main line from Budapest diverts around the Mecsek hills, and enter Pécs from the ‘wrong side’. The assymetry (and the longer journey time) can only be corrected by construction of a new line to Budapest, via Szekszárd. Such a line could be extended via Baja toward Subotica and Szeged, partly on former rail alignments.
The approximate length of the sections is: 90 km Zagreb to Koprivnica, 55 km from Koprivnica to Barcs, and 65 km from there to Pécs, a total of around 210 km. Assuming a high-speed line to Koprivnica, and a single stop there, Zagreb – Pécs journey time should be under 90 minutes.