This proposal would create a new regional line from Novi Sad, the capital of the Vojvodina region, to Osijek, the only large city in Slavonia. The line would run across the Bačka plain, and then cross the Danube. Most of it is on existing rail lines, with two new cut-off sections. The new line would cross the proposed Sombor – Vinkovci regional line, with interchange at Dalj. It would connect with proposed high-speed rail lines (HSL) in the region.
Bačka and Slavonia: high-speed lines in blue, inter-regional line in orange, regional line Novi Sad – Odžaci – Osijek in green. Not all rail lines are shown.
Although the local rail lines exist already, there is no through service. The railway network was built in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but within separate administrative units. The present Vojvodina was in the Kingdom of Hungary, and it had a reasonable rural rail network. Osijek was in Croatia-Slavonia, the predecessor of present Croatia, with fewer lines. Although the Vojvodina and Slavonia both became part of Yugoslavia, there was no further development of the network. The single-track Danube rail bridge at Erdut, is still the only connection. The later Serbian – Croatian war blocked all regional cooperation. The proposal here, like all others on this blog, ignores borders and political sensitivities.
The present lines are:
- Serbian line 21, Novi Sad to Odžaci, a local line through the South Bačka district, which originally continued to Sombor;
- a winding link from Odžaci to Bogojevo, using parts of former local lines, also numbered line 21. (Odžaci was once a local rail junction, but this is all that survived);
- a short part of Serbian line 20, from Bogojevo to the Danube bridge at Erdut;
- Croatian line R104 from the bridge to Dalj, and line R202 from Dalj to Osijek.
The last three are all part of the Alföld – Fiume line (1870), between Sombor and Osijek.
The line from Novi Sad runs through the Bačka, a very flat agricultural plain, with medium-sized villages. Odžaci is the largest village on the line, with 10 000 inhabitants. The only urban centre, in this part of the Bačka, is Novi Sad itself (population 370 000).
Click to enlarge: The line in its original form, circa 1910, highlighted in blue, new route in purple. The base map is an Austro-Hungarian military map, with German and Hungarian place names.
The existing line out of Novi Sad is indirect: the station was relocated, but the line was not realigned. The new regional line would use a new exit line from Novi Sad, built alongside the proposed HSL to Budapest via Sombor and the proposed HSL Zagreb – Novi Sad via Vinkovci. The 4-track exit line would follow the Savino Selo Canal, part of the Vojvodina canal system. The alignment shown requires demolition at Rumenka: the regional line might have a station there.
Click to enlarge…
At Bački Petrovac the high-speed lines would split. The new regional line would first follow the HSL toward Vinkovci, and then rejoin the existing alignment at Maglic. This section would include a new station for Bački Petrovac itself (7000 inhabitants). From Maglic the existing line would be rebuilt, with stations at Maglic, Gajdobra and Ratkovo (2000-4000 inhabitants).
At Odžaci, the existing station is on the east side of the village. That was convenient when the line continued toward Sombor, but not for trains toward the Erdut bridge. The line turns back south-west after Odžaci station and passes through Karavukovo and Bogojevo.
A new cut-off line would turn west before Odžaci, and serve a new station on its south side. It would rejoin the old alignment to Karavukovo, but the station there might also be relocated. At Bogojevo, there are two options: a new alignment on the south side, or via the existing station on the east side. In both cases, the curve to the Erdut bridge should be improved.
The options are shown on the map below. The white dotted line is the existing alignment, stations in orange. The new line south of Odžaci is in blue. The solid green line shortens the route via Karavukovo, with a new station. The yellow line is a ‘new’ cut-off at Bogojevo: in fact, most of it is on another old rail alignment.
Click to enlarge…
Each of the three new alignments will shorten the total line, but each can be built separately. The Erdut rail bridge needs replacement, but the present location would be retained.
From Erdut to Osijek, the line would be upgraded. Depending on the alignment of he proposed Sombor – Vinkovci regional line, the station at Dalj might be relocated.
The pattern of services would then be:
- regional service Novi Sad – Odžaci – Dalj – Osijek, all stations
- inter-regional service Sombor – Vinkovci, stops only at Dalj and Borovo
- regional service Sombor – Dalj – Osijek, all stations
That leaves no regional service Novi Sad – Sombor. The local line north of Odžaci is closed: its alignment would be used by the proposed HSL to Budapest. An additional Sombor – Bogojevo – Odžaci service would avoid detours for passengers: it only needs a new Sonta – Bogojevo curve. That curve would be needed for freight trains anyway, since there is no alternative freight line Novi Sad – Sombor.
The new regional line, with all cut-off sections, would be 105 km long. Its function and HSL connections, justify a double-track electric line. Frequencies should also be relatively high (minimum 30-minute interval). Upgrading should allow a Novi Sad – Osijek journey time, of 80-90 minutes.