Požega lies in a basin, in the hills of Slavonia. The hills separate it from the Sava and Drava valleys, and therefore from the main transport axes. The rail line to Požega is a typical rural branch line, from a minor junction station – the kind which have been closed all over Europe. A new tunnel can shorten the route from Zagreb to Požega, and restructure the line as a regional route between the Sava and Drava plains. Trains can then run from Nova Gradiška, via Požega, toward Našice and Osijek.
Click to enlarge: new lines in red…
This line would be a logical addition to the proposed Sava high-speed line from Zagreb to Vinkovci, and the associated upgrading of the main line Zagreb – Belgrade. Nova Gradiška (population 16 000, 140 km from Zagreb), would be served by fast inter-regional trains, and would become the interchange station for Požega.
The present branch line begins at Nova Kapela / Batrina station, 25 km east of Nova Gradiška. It follows the Orljava valley into the Požega basin. At Pleternica, the line splits. One line goes to Požega, and ends at the village of Velika: this is Croatian line L207. The other branch (L206) crossed the Krndija range to Našice, at the edge of the Drava plain. It is currently disused, except for a short section to a cement plant in Našice.
Požega is the only town on these lines, with 28 000 inhabitants. The basin (Požeška Kotlina) has about 70 000 inhabitants, and Požega is its natural centre. The 30-km new line would place Požega on a through rail route, a more logical arrangement. It would diverge from the main line, about 3-10 km east of Nova Gradiška, and turn north to a tunnel under the Babja Gora hills.
The exact location of the tunnel would depend on local topography and geology. The preferable route is via the first valley east of Nova Gradiška, along the Rešetarica stream, like the main road. The line would require a tunnel of about 5 km, or 3 km if it climbed along a side valley. The new line would enter the basin at the western end, and then turn toward Požega, along the Orljavica stream. There might be a station at Brestovac, but it is a small village.
In Požega, the new line can follow the river to the existing station, just north of the town centre. That would require only minimal demolition, but the line would probably need a viaduct. East of Požega, a new section would link to the Našice line, avoiding Pleternica. (This is the only large village on the line, and it would retain a local service from Nova Kapela to Požega).
Upgrading of the line over the Krndija range to Našice, is not a precondition for a tunnel to Požega, but it is a logical complement to the project. Its present twisting alignment restricts speeds. Any serious upgrading would require one or more tunnels, but that is not considered further here. The total route Nova Gradiška – Požega – Našice is about 80 km long.