Regional line Szeged – Makó – Arad

This proposed line passes the Hungarian – Romanian border at Nagylak, the busiest entry point to Romania. The border was created by the 1920 Treaty of Trianon, which dismembered the Kingdom of Hungary. The present 47-km line from Szeged turns north just before the border – so you might think it was re-routed after 1920. However, that is the original alignment, visible on the base map used here, an Austro-Hungarian military map of around 1910. The existing Nagylak station did serve a village of that name, but it is now across the border, and uses the Romanian spelling ‘Nădlac’.

On the other side of Nădlac, a 52-km local line runs to Arad. This is Romanian line 215, operated by Regiotrans, with 8 trains a day. There may once have been a track connection between the two lines, but there was no rail line Szeged – Arad as such. The proposal here is to create one. Szeged is 100 km from Arad, and they both have a population of about 170 000. The only town between them is Makó, with 24 000 inhabitants: otherwise the line serves rural villages. It generally follows the river Maros / Mureş, which flows through Arad, and joins the Tisza at Szeged.

Click to enlarge…

The parallel road route is part of Trans-European priority Project 7, and will be upgraded to motorway. In Hungary, the M43 is already under construction. A double-track electric rail line on the same axis, is not unreasonable.

Szeged itself would be served by the proposed high-speed line from Budapest via Kecskemét. The original bridge over the river Tisza, near the existing Szeged station, was bombed in 1944, and never rebuilt. The proposed new link line would replace it, serving a new station for the high-speed line (HSL). The new bridge over the Tisza can also be used, to re-connect the Makó line to the rest of the network. At present, trains start from a small station on the other side of the Tisza: Újszeged, ‘New Szeged’.

The line to Nagylak forms part of line 121, an indirect rail route Szeged – Békéscsaba, via Nagylak and Kétegyháza. The first section would form part of a new line to Arad: the rest of line 121 (north of Nagylak) would remain as a rural line with limited upgrading. Like other Hungarian rural lines, the existing line is very basic. It is not surprising that they attract no passengers. Successive Hungarian governments are closing them, sometimes by simply abandoning them (without a formal closure procedure).

Trains to Arad would start from the new Szeged HSL station, not from the city-centre station. In this scenario, Újszeged station would close: the first station south of the river would be at Szőreg. With extra tracks from the Tisza bridge (shown in blue), trains to Arad could use the existing Szőreg station. (It is also possible to retain Újszeged station as a terminal for some local trains, with a new footbridge to the city centre).

The next stations on the Nagylak line are at Deszk (population 3500) and Kiszombor (4000).

The line crosses the Maros into Makó. The line here has a double S-curve, with Makó station between them. Probably the bridge must be renewed anyway, so the station approaches can be realigned, if possible (dotted lines). Makó station itself is well located, 1100 m from the centre: it would be 31 km from the Szeged HSL station.

From Makó, the alignment to Nagylak is almost straight, with some slight curves near Apátfalva (population, with Magyarcsanád, 4500). Here a regional line to Timişoara via Lovrin would diverge.

At Nagylak, a new alignment is needed, to connect to the Arad line. It must bypass the large border post, and include a new station for the small town of Nădlac (population 8000). The simplest solution is a new 5-km alignment, with a cut-and-cover tunnel under the low-density housing. The variant shown is aligned with the street grid: that makes it longer, but minimises demolition.

From Nădlac, the existing line follows the river, via Semlac / Szemlak (this section is not shown on the base map). A new direct alignment is better, alongside the main road (E68). It would rejoin the existing alignment at Pecica / Pecska (13 000), the only other station before Arad. The existing line runs north of Pecica, before turning back south. The new alignment would run on the north edge of town, with a new station, and join the Arad line further east.

At Pecica, the restored line from Orosháza via Battonya would join the line: they would share tracks into Arad.

After entering Arad itself, the alignment is wide enough, but needs improvement. The S-curve at the crossing with Calea Aurel Vlaicu could be eliminated by a link line, north of this road. This is an industrial area, where construction of a new line (shown in red) should not be a problem. A new station could be located where it crosses the Calea Aurel Vlaicu.

Near the main station, the line from Nădlac joins the main line from Budapest via Békéscsaba. The junction needs realignment and grade separation, but there is more than enough room for that. Arad station is large, and reasonably well located. A wide boulevard leads to the city centre: it is about 1700 m to the Town Hall.

The regional line would be about 101 km long, from the Szeged HSL station to Arad station. Mainly due to the new section along the E68, it is a very direct route – only 8% longer than a straight line. It should allow a journey time of about 70 minutes for regional trains – and under an hour for fast trains, stopping only at Makó.

Regional line Szeged – Makó – Arad

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