A fast inter-regional rail line, from Zrenjanin to Timişoara, would extend the proposed Novi Sad – Zrenjanin line. Together they would form a new high-speed line (HSL) from Novi Sad to Timişoara. From Zrenjanin, the new line would follow the existing Vršac line (Serbian line 43), and then the local line Cruceni – Timişoara (Romanian line 926).
Zrenjanin (population 130 000) is the third city of the Vojvodina region, after the capital Novi Sad and Subotica. Timişoara (Temesvár in Hungarian, population 310 000) is the second city of Romania. Both are in the historical region of the Banat, which is now divided between Serbia and Romania (with a small part in Hungary).
Click to enlarge: Map of modern Banat by Andrei nacu, public domain.
The proposed inter-regional line would cross a flat plain, at 80-90 m elevation, with no major rivers. Population densities are relatively low, about 30/km². The only possible stations are at Lazarevo and Jaša Tomić (population 3000 each). However, the two local rail lines should be reconnected anyway, so that may not be necessary. Like many others, the original Zrenjanin – Timişoara line was cut, when the Kingdom of Hungary was dissolved, after the First World War. Only a few kilometers of track are needed to reconnect it, between Jaša Tomić and Cruceni. The rest of the rural line can then be upgraded, for a regional service, serving Lazarevo, Jaša Tomić, and a few smaller villages.
Click to enlarge: Cruceni station, image by Jan Pešula
The proposed line from Novi Sad would use the existing alignment (and station area) in Zrenjanin itself, with an enlarged station. The line to Timişoara would also follow the existing line: first south-east from the station, then eastwards. Within Zrenjanin, there is generally enough space to widen the alignment. The only problem is the sharp curve before the bridge over the river Begej.
From Zrenjanin eastwards, the alignment is almost straight, with a few curves which can be easily improved.
Click to enlarge: The line as built. The base map is an Austro-Hungarian military map of around 1910, with older Hungarian place-names: Becskerek = Zrenjanin.
The new alignment would certainly bypass Sečanj, but it would pass close to Jaša Tomić. At Cruceni, a new alignment north of the village would be shorter. The present station is in the middle of the village – which is good for a local line, but not for a through line.
Again between Cruceni and Giulvăz, a new alignment is certainly needed to shorten the route. Between Giulvăz and Parţa, the new line can run parallel to the old. The existing line then enters the Timişoara metropolitan area, but it makes a detour via Utvin.
Click to enlarge: line highlighted in blue.
Timişoara is the largest city between Budapest and Bucharest. It was once on a through rail route between these cities, via Szeged. With the construction of the proposed HSL via Szeged and Kikinda, this route would be restored. (From Timişoara to Bucharest, it would parallel Romanian main line 900, via Craiova).
Like line 900, the main station ( Gara Timişoara Nord), is aligned east-west. To improve the present zig-zag alignment, a new approach line is needed. It would start near Parţa, and then join line 900, west of the station. This new alignment (shown in red) would be shared with the proposed heavily upgraded line to Beograd: south of Şag, that line would follow line 922 to Deta and Vršac.
Click to enlarge:
The new Zrenjanin – Timişoara line would be 86-90 km long, station to station. Journey time should be under 35 minutes. In combination with the proposed Novi Sad – Zrenjanin line, a Novi Sad – Timişoara journey time of under one hour would certainly be feasible.