High-speed line Maribor – Ptuj – Koprivnica

This proposal would form part of a network of high-speed rail lines (HSL) in south-central and south-eastern Europe. The line is intended to connect the proposed high-speed rail line Wien – Maribor (and the line from Graz), with the proposed Drava plain high-speed line. It would include upgraded existing lines, and two new cut-off lines. The new line would carry primarily high-speed inter-regional services: originating in Graz, Carinthia, Ljubljana or Maribor, and terminating in Pécs, Osijek or Beograd (Belgrade).

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High-speed line (HSL) Maribor - Ptuj - Varaždin - Koprivnica

The new line would start at Maribor, and end with a connection to the Drava plain line, just east of Koprivnica. It would have several distinct sections:

  • a new high-speed line south-east from Maribor toward Ptuj – in fact a new line to Zagreb, with a short connection to Ptuj.
  • an upgraded main line east of Ptuj
  • a new line connecting that line to Varaždin, and
  • a new 45-km line from Varaždin to Koprivnica, parallel to regional line R202.

Maribor (population 113 000), is the regional centre of the Podravska and Pomurska regions (population 440 000). The existing route from Maribor to Ptuj is L-shaped: south to Pragersko, then east to Ptuj. The rail network here shows its Austro-Hungarian origins: two main lines from the dual capitals Vienna and Budapest converge, at the village of Pragersko. (Their destination is the main Austro-Hungarian port, Trieste). The obvious improvement is a direct line between Maribor and Ptuj.

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A4 to Ptuj HSL

That can be combined with a new Maribor – Zagreb HSL, which would run south-east, like the A4 motorway. Via the new alignment (two variants are shown), Maribor would be 30 km from Ptuj, with about 21 km on new track. Trains would leave the Zagreb HSL, to join the existing alignment, and cross the Drava on a new bridge into Ptuj (population 24 000).

The alignment though Ptuj is not optimal: trains would turn east, north-east, and east again. However, that is outweighed by the line’s proximity to the historic centre.

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East of Ptuj, the old imperial line is almost straight, but it now passes two borders. It enters Croatia, passes through Čakovec as Croatian line M501, and leaves the country again. This is still the main route Budapest – Ljubljana: it can and should be upgraded for 200 km/h or more (Ausbaustrecke).

To reach Varaždin, trains would use a new high-speed curve west of Čakovec, joining the alignment of line R201. A cut-off line along the Drava diversion canal (shown in green), would shorten the route, but ends with a sharp curve into Varaždin station. Both variants require a bypass of Ormož, where the line curves between a hill and a bend in the river.

Ormoz bend

Ormož itself (population 2300) is too small to justify a stop for fast trains. The simplest option is a southern by-pass, even though it crosses the Drava twice. The alignment along the diversion canal only crosses the Drava once.

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The advantages of sharing an upgraded Budapest line east of Ormož, probably outweigh the benefits of a shorter route along the diversion canal. The longer route, via a new  Čakovec bypass curve, would be about 48 km long. In both options, the existing north-south alignment through Varaždin would be retained and upgraded.

Varaždin has a population of 39 000, and is capital of Varaždin County (176 000). South of the station, the new line would turn east. Two options are shown: a 4-km cut-off line through the village of Zbelava, and a longer southern exit line: both join the existing R201 alignment near the A4 motorway.

Varazdin exit

Further east of Varaždin, the new line can generally follow the R201. Most of the line consists of straight sections, and the whole route is almost straight. There is a bend at Ludbreg, around the tip of the Kalnik hills. The new line could leave the existing line at Ludbreg station, and use a new curve to Čukovec (shown in red). New sections are also essential at Kunovec, and entering Koprivnica. It is also possible to build a new line several kilometres north of the existing line, avoiding the villages. The Varaždin – Koprivnica section would be about 42 km long.


At Koprivnica, the line would again use an existing north-south alignment through the town. This is the main Budapest – Zagreb line, Croatian line M201. The town has a population of 26 000, and is capital of Koprivnica-Križevci County (116 000). Leaving the station at the south end, the new line would again turn east, to join the proposed Drava plain high-speed line toward Vinkovci. Via this line, trains could also access the proposed high-speed line to Pécs.

The Maribor – Koprivnica high-speed route would be 120 to 125 km long. Since most of the line would be new, and the upgraded sections straight and level, speed can be high. With only two intermediate stations, a journey time of under 45 minutes is realistic. Trains would usually continue through Koprivnica: for instance, another 120 km to Pécs. A Maribor – Pécs inter-regional service could take less than 90 minutes.

High-speed line Maribor – Ptuj – Koprivnica

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