The main rail line Wien (Vienna) – Bratislava – Budapest makes a right-angle turn, at the Danube bend. Here the river avoids the hills north-west of Budapest, and the rail line follows the river. A cut-off line is a logical possibility, and no doubt there have been many proposals. It would almost certainly parallel the existing line to Esztergom. This is not a proposal for a definitive alignment: instead the place of the new line in the rail network is indicated.
The new line would be used by high-speed trains from Wien and Bratislava, over an upgraded line via Nové Zámky. They would enter Budapest via the existing line to Nyugati pályaudvar (‘Western Station’, built 1877, in fact located north of the city centre). See the maps of past and present rail lines in Budapest. The line can also be used as an extension of the proposed Komárno – Štúrovo high-speed line. These trains could use the proposed cross-city tunnel, but they might simply terminate at Nyugati station. For these trains, the new line is a pure cut-off line, with no intermediate stops. The line can also be used for fast services to Esztergom (population 30 000) and to Štúrovo (population 11 000), on the other side of the Danube. The suggested pattern is this:
- high-speed through trains from Bratislava, joining the new line near Štúrovo
- high-speed through trains from Győr via Komárno, also joining the new line near Štúrovo
- regional service from Nové Zámky to Štúrovo, then crossing the Danube and terminating in Esztergom
- fast regional service from Nyugati station to Esztergom, with one stop in Budapest (connecting to the HEV Szentendre line)
- regional services along the Danube bend, on the existing line via Vác, terminating at Štúrovo.
This pattern allows the maximum interchange, short of building a tunnel under Štúrovo and Esztergom.
The new line for fast trains can leave the main line before Štúrovo station, other trains would use a connecting link from just east of the station. All would cross the Danube on a new bridge, three-track if necessary for sufficient capacity. After the crossing, a connecting line would make a U-turn onto the existing line into Esztergom station. The line to Budapest would pass south of the Suzuki car plant (beyond the parking lot visible on the photo, taken looking south). (Public domain image by Villy)
The new line would then go through the valley on the south side of the Pilis hills. This valley is a natural route to Budapest, interrupted only by a low ridge (about half-way).
This valley is also the route of the existing Esztergom – Budapest line, a single-track regional line with commuter traffic.
From the Danube bridge, the new line would follow the flank of the valley, avoiding Dorog. This route is north of the existing line. Near Piliscsév, the line would enter a 3-4 km tunnel under the ridge. From the tunnel, it would continue along the valley, which extends in an almost straight line to the edge of Budapest.
Near Üröm, the new line would join the alignment of the existing line. It would follow it, possibly directly alongside it, toward the Danube. The only station on the new section would be here, where it crosses the HÉV line to Szentendre. This local rail line is planned for incorporation into metro line 5, although no date is set. The interchange station would be Aquincum: the HÉV station would be relocated southwards. There is sufficient space for a new station here, with through tracks for fast trains. However, this is the site of the Roman predecessor of Budapest – the ancient amphitheatre is about 150 m from the rail line. Construction may be restricted by archaeological sites.
After this interchange, the line would cross the Danube on a new bridge, and continue alongside the existing line. After a second bridge, over a former arm of the Danube, a sharp curve would need to be realigned. The cut-off line would rejoin the main line from Bratislava, about 4 km north of Nyugati Station.