New central station in Belgrade

This was first posted in 2010. Since then, several new proposals have been posted here, with possible alternatives. See the overview post on Belgrade as a European rail junction, especially the proposed northern and eastern bypass lines. The rest of this post has been left in its original form.

The present Main Station (Glavna Stanica) in Belgrade (Beograd), is a terminal station. As part of the Belgrade Junction Project, a new ‘central’ station Beograd Centar is planned. Despite the name, it is well south of the city centre, at Prokop. The proposed new tunnel and Danube bridge would convert Glavna Stanica into a through station.

That leads to a simple option: the best place for a new central station in Belgrade, is the old central station. The Prokop station provides through platforms, for west to south-east trains. That can also be done with new platforms at Glavna Stanica, above the existing platforms, at right angles to them. That requires a new line from the west (Zemun), a new Sava bridge, and a new tunnel to connect to the existing Dedinje tunnel.

Click to enlarge: proposed line through Novi Beograd shown in orange, earlier proposed north-south line and Topčider tunnel in blue.

New rail line and central station in Belgrade / Beograd

This option is inspired by the Stuttgart 21 project, which will ‘rotate’ Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof by 90 degrees, converting it into a through station. In Stuttgart, the existing platforms will disappear: in Belgrade they would be retained, creating a station in the form of a cross. The historical station building can be retained.

The station at Prokop would be relegated to urban-regional status. It is still not complete anyway, 34 years after construction started. It would be served by Beovoz trains from the Vračar Tunnel, as it is now. The Dedinje tunnel, the planned approach to Prokop from the south-east, would become the exit tunnel from the new platforms at Glavna Stanica. Nothing would be wasted.

The rail line into Belgrade from the west passes through Zemun. The original Austro-Hungarian line was relocated in the 1950’s, and the present Zemun station is on a plateau, above the old riverbank town. The new line to Glavna Stanica would parallel the existing line, east of this station. It too would descend about 30-35 m, in tunnel, from the plateau.

In Novi Beograd, the line would run on viaduct above Pariske Komune / Mihajla Pupina. The streets here are exceptionally wide. There would be no intermediate station on the new line: it is intended for long-distance trains, including high-speed trains. If they did stop, it would be at Zemun, which has 145 000 inhabitants. Passengers could change there, for Beovoz services. In addition, a long-planned metro line would run downhill from the station, through the old town of Zemun, and on through Novi Beograd.

In Novi Beograd, at the end of Mihajla Pupina, the road curves toward the new Sava road bridge. The new rail line would go straight on here, passing between Block 20 and Block 17. It would rise to a new rail bridge, just south of the old Sava road bridge. On the other side of the Sava, the station zone begins directly behind the river bank.

The site of the new alignment and platforms is visible, on this panorama image. The arched bridge is the old Sava road bridge. The new line would exit the station zone near the postal building (with the yellow vans).

Click to enlarge: the large station zone, with one possible alignment for new east-west platforms in white/blue, through platforms for north-south tunnel in orange. Indicative only.

New central station in Belgrade at old central station

The exact alignment of the platforms depends on the tunnel east of the station. The ground rises here, but not enough for a tunnel to simply ‘enter the hill’. Substantial demolition would be necessary, between the elevated platforms and the tunnel portal. The start of the tunnel would approximately follow Ulica Birčaninova.

The tunnel would then turn 90 degrees, in a curve of about 1000-1200 m radius, climbing about 20 m. It would emerge from the hill beside the existing portal of the Vračar Tunnel. The line would then cross the motorway, which is in a valley, and the existing curves from the Vračar Tunnel into Beograd Centar. Demolition of the Veterinary Faculty here, is probably unavoidable.

Click to enlarge: Connecting the Dedinje tunnel portal to Glavna Stanica, the alignments are indicative only.

Part of new rail line through Belgrade

On the other side of this valley, the new line would enter the existing Dedinje tunnel. The portal might need reconstruction, to align with the new bridge across the motorway. The rest of the tunnel can be used as planned: it joins the main line out of Belgrade, north of Rakovica Station.

All trains to the south and south-east pass through Rakovica. All trains from the west and north-west pass through Zemun. They can all run through Beograd Centar – when it is finished. The proposal here has exactly the same function. However, it substitutes a far better station site: next to the city centre, and already served by tram and bus lines. The proposed second north-south tunnel would also link it directly to the north. This is probably the best possible option for the lines through Belgrade – short of an underground main station, under the main square Trg Republike.

New central station in Belgrade

2 thoughts on “New central station in Belgrade

  1. belgrader says:

    This plan is totally unrealistic for several reasons:

    1. You are running, somehow, a new central rail line through the middle of New Belgrade. How do you envision doing this? Above ground? If yes – it’s impossible! You have it running straight along Pupin Boulevard, one of the main traffic arteries to Zemun. And you are putting a rail line right in front the “Serbia Palace” where some government ministries are located and where foreign dignitaries are received. No one will want a railway there! Viaduct or otherwise. Only someone who has never been to Belgrade (or is somehow extremely fond of trains) can make such a suggestion. In urbanism terms, it’s a total nightmare! Below ground? Again, extremely difficult – the New Belgrade terrain is marshy and the water table is high, making underground tunnels impractical, hardly doable and very expensive. Even the new metro/grade separated light rail line which is planned in New Belgrade will be built on elevated tracks, above ground, rather than below.

    2. Your bridge likely conflicts with a long-planned bridge that would replace the WW2-era old Sava bridge and connect Nemanjina St. to New Belgrade. This would solve an important traffic problem and is higher on the list of priorities than a new rail line.

    3. It’s all hugely expensive!

    Furthermore, your plan is a poor idea because:

    4. The old railway station, with all its infrastructure, is a cancer in the middle of downtown Belgrade. The whole point of the new railway junction (with Prokop at its centre) is to REMOVE the central station and all the associated railway infrastructure taking up a large section of the riverbank, allowing urban development of the whole “Sava amphitheatre”. It has to go, along with all the rails, warehouses, storage spaces, etc. Today it is a blight smack in the middle of the city, preventing the city from “breathing” and “descending to the river” (the decades-long dream of Belgrade city planners). Not to mention all the traffic congestion at the old station which would disappear.

    5. Prokop is NOT in a bad location. For through-traffic the location is fine; in terms of passengers, its distance from Slavija (the beginning of the “inner downtown”) is only about 20 minutes by FOOT! The traveling time to Republic Square, the very heart of downtown, is less than 20 minutes by trolleybus. Furthermore, a metro/LRT line is planned, which would reduce the traveling time to downtown to less than 15 minutes. Plus, who says that everyone wants to go to downtown? Furthermore, the station is close to the highway, and already has BG:voz connections every 15 minutes (workdays) to other parts of the city, allowing you to be at e.g. Vukov spomenik or New Belgrade station in about 5 mins. traveling time.

    1. infrastruct says:

      1. The post says that the line would run on viaduct through Novi Beograd. The roads are wide enough.

      2. This blog presents proposals for new rail alignments. It never considers cost, economics, local reactions, or political attitudes. If you want to discuss these issues you can use the beobuild forum, or the Serbian forum at Skyscraper city.

      3. The line does not conflict with the new road bridge.

      4. Describing railway stations as a ‘cancer’ is a political opinion, and this blog does not consider political issues.

      5. In many European cities railway facilities had been closed, to use the land for property development. This is a well-known phenomenon. It is a political choice, but obviously there are huge financial interests. This blog does not consider political issues or financial aspects.

      6. The location at Prokop is obviously worse than that of the old station, which adjoins the historical city. Moving stations to peripheral locations makes them less useful, because average journey lengths increase, and reduces access to radial transport infrastructure. Peripheral stations are the great failure of the French high-speed network – one was built in open fields, with not even a village nearby. Prokop is not that bad, but it can never be as good as a central-area station.

      7. It is pointless to built stations on main roads, simply to make them accessible to car drivers.

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