Fast inter-regional line Szekszárd – Kalocsa – Kecskemét

This proposal would create a new transversal rail route across the Danube, south of Budapest. It would cross existing and proposed radial routes from Budapest, creating new connections between Southern Transdanubia, and eastern / north-eastern Hungary. Trains would run from Pécs to Szolnok, using a new alignment between Szekszárd and Kecskemét.

New inter-regional rail line Pécs - Kecskemét - Szolnok

That assumes the construction of the proposed high-speed line from Pécs and Zagreb into Szekszárd. Without that high-speed line (HSL), the logic of a Szekszárd – Kecskemét route is undermined. Pécs (population 157 000), is the largest city of Southern Transdanubia, and a Szekszárd – Pécs line is the logical route toward Slavonia and Zagreb. The proposed HSL Novi Sad – Szekszárd – Budapest would also connect to the transversal line. (Those high-speed lines are not described further here).

The line proposed here is compatible with another transversal route: the proposed Székesfehérvár – Szolnok cross-Danube line.

At present, there are only two rail bridges across the Danube, between Budapest and Novi Sad. One is on Hungarian line 154, the Bátaszék – Baja rail line: the other is further south, between Osijek and Sombor. It is possible to travel by rail from Pécs to Kecskemét via Baja, but the route is very indirect. For this kind of journey, travel via Budapest may be easier, despite the long detour.

The deficit in Danube crossings is recognised, but there are no current plans for new rail lines. The incomplete M9 motorway provides a new Danube road crossing – also east of Szekszárd.

The proposed transversal line would use the existing alignment north of Szekszárd, to Tolna-Mözs station (line 46). It would be very substantially upgraded, for three new proposed lines:

The line to Kecskemét would diverge from the Dunaújváros line, north of Tolna. It might serve a new station, at the north end of Tolna itself. The line would then turn east, to cross the Danube, passing the north end of the village of Fadd.

Click to enlarge…

new rail lines into Tolna

Kalocsa (population 17 500) is about 6 km from the bank of the Danube. It was served by a single-track branch line from Kiskőrös, line 153, with a station just east of the centre. The line was closed in the 2007 railway closures. The new line would pass the southern edge of the built-up area, with a new station on the main road to Baja, at about 21 km from Szekszárd station.

Click to enlarge…

New inter-regional rail line Pécs - Kecskemét - Szolnok

From Kalocsa, the new line to Kiskőrös would roughly parallel the closed line 153. It could run straight toward Kiskőrös (the shortest option, green dashed line), or it could use the old alignment east of Kecel (variant in blue, old line in white). With 9000 inhabitants, Kecel is the only village large enough to justify a station. Depending on the alignment, this section would be about 30 km long.

Click to enlarge…

New inter-regional rail line Pécs - Kecskemét - Szolnok

The new line would certainly follow the old alignment into Kiskőrös station. Kiskőrös (population 14 500) is on the old main line from Budapest, to Subotica, Novi Sad and Beograd (Belgrade), the Kelebia line. As with other Hungarian main lines, this route was cut by the new borders after the First World War. It should be doubled and upgraded for 200 km/h. Kiskőrös station would need reconstruction, and the junction should be grade-separated.

Kiskőrös is 107 km from Budapest Keleti Station, but that includes an indirect route via the Budapest ring line. The proposed Taksony – Budafok link, across Csepel Island, would re-route the Kelebia line into Kelenföld Station. (That would improve connections, and access the proposed cross-city line).

Click to enlarge: the rerouted Kelebia line south of Budapest…

North of Kiskőrös station, the new transversal line would turn north-east toward Kecskemét, on a completely new 40-km alignment. It would roughly parallel the old narrow-gauge line 148 Kiskőrös – Kecskemét. That line was closed in the 2009 round of rail closures.

The new line would follow the old line more closely, about half-way between Kiskőrös and Kecskemét, where it passes between two zones of the Kiskunság National Park. The new line would approach Kecskemét in a broad curve, south of the built-up area.

Click to enlarge: the alignment is schematic…

New inter-regional rail line Pécs - Kecskemét - Szolnok

Kecskemét (110 000 inhabitants) is on the existing line 140 to Szeged. It would be an interchange station on the proposed high-speed line Budapest – Beograd via Ferihegy airport, and that implies substantial enlargement of the station.

The line from Szekszárd to Kecskemét would be 100-105 km long. Of that, about 90 km would be new alignment, some of it parallel to older lines,

Trains from the new line would continue from Kecskemét, on an upgraded (double-tracked) line 140. This is the present main route from Kecskemét to Budapest, via Cegléd. The proposed HSL via Ferihegy would carry most traffic if it was built, but line 140 should be upgraded anyway.

Trains from Szekszárd would then use a new high-speed curve, by-passing Cegléd, to reach line 100 toward Szolnok, the main line east from Budapest. They would terminate at Szolnok (population 75 000), with interchange for trains east and north-east, to Debrecen and Oradea.

This is a specifically transversal line. It is intended for fast inter-regional services, with connections to the other lines it crosses. In principle trains from Pécs to Szolnok would stop at only four stations: Szekszárd, Kalocsa, Kiskőrös and Kecskemét. Trains would pass through Tolna and Nagykőrös on existing alignments, and additional stations are possible at Fadd and Kecel, and possibly between Kiskőrös and Kecskemét (to give access to the National Park). These extra stops would be served by separate services: if all trains stopped there, then the line would lose its inter-regional function.

Fast inter-regional line Szekszárd – Kalocsa – Kecskemét

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