A direct line would certainly be justified (and it has almost certainly been proposed already). The two cities are 50 km apart: Novi Sad has a population of 305 000, Zrenjanin 130 000). The proposed new line would use a new eastern exit from Novi Sad station, shared for about 4 km with the proposed regional line Szeged – Bečej – Novi Sad. The new alignment to Zrenjanin would generally follow the M7 highway, via Žabalj.
Click to enlarge…
The new exit line would leave the existing alignment, about 1 km from the main station. It would cross the DTD Canal, and run alongside the M7. Before it crossed the E75 motorway, the regional line to Szeged would diverge north (toward Temerin).
The new line to Zrenjanin would continue north-eastwards. This is an alluvial plain, with many former meanders of the Danube and Tisa. It is extremely flat: elevation over the whole line would vary only 8 m, from 70 to 78 m. Although the line would parallel the M7 road, shorter alignments are possible for some sections. The crossing of the E75 could be south of the existing junction, joining the M7 about 2 km further east.
Click to enlarge: the new exit line form Novi Sad station
North of Kać, the new line would cross the existing line (via Titel). A connecting curve would create a shorter route, from this regional line to Novi Sad station. The new line would continue parallel to the M7.
The only intermediate station would be at Žabalj (population 9 500, municipality 27 000). Here the line would leave the road alignment, with a new station on the south edge of the town. This replaces the existing station on the Bečej – Temerin – Novi Sad line, which would close when that line is upgraded and rerouted.
East of Žabalj, the line could follow the road closely, as it crosses the river Tisa toward Zrenjanin. Another option is a crossing further south, giving a shorter route. The river was originally flanked by wetlands, but most have been reclaimed, so there are few restrictions on the site of a new bridge. The shorter alignment would join the M7, between the river and Aradac.
Click to enlarge: The original railway and river geography, around 1910. This is an Austro-Hungarian military map with German and Hungarian placenames. Josefsdorf is Žabalj, and Nagy-Becskerek is Zrenjanin
North of Aradac, the new line would leave the M7, and continue eastwards. It would join the existing rail alignment, at the northern edge of Zrenjanin, about 2 km from the station. The station itself is located at the edge of old town, which is inside an old meander of the river Begej.
Click to enlarge: with two possible Tisa crossings…
Zrenjanin station is served by the line to Novi Bečej, part of the proposed new regional line Zrenjanin – Bečej. It also on Serbian line 40 to Beograd (Belgrade), and the proposed fast line on that route. From Novi Sad there are direct routes to Bečej and Beograd, so only passengers for intermediate villages would change at Zrenjanin.
A more logical interchange is with the existing line to Vršac ( Serbian line 43). A through regional service is also an option, implying upgrading of that line. A more substantial option is a new fast inter-regional line to Timişoara (population 310 000). It would follow the alignment of the Vršac line, and then roughly parallel the existing local line Cruceni – Timişoara (Romanian line 926). That would create a new 140-km route, north-east from Novi Sad.
The Novi Sad – Zrenjanin line itself, would be about 50-52 km long. The aim should be a 20-minute journey (without a stop at Žabalj). That implies a line speed of 200 km/h, which should be no problem on a flat plain. That would make the line technically a high-speed line (HSL), but complete high-speed services would only make sense, if the line was extended to Timişoara.