There was originally a local line connecting Debrecen and Oradea, cut by the post-1918 borders. The Hungarian section survives as the 53-km line 106, but it terminates ‘in the middle of nowhere’ at Nagykereki. The alignment on the Romanian side of the border is abandoned.
The region is part of the Alföld or Great Hungarian Plain, and is economically peripheral. Debrecen is the second city of Hungary, with 207 000 inhabitants. Oradea is about the same size, located at the edge of the Carpathian foothills.
There are two alternatives for a new link between Debrecen and Oradea. One is a re-routed version of the original line: a new alignment south of Nagykereki would replace the abandoned section. The new link would connect to the Budapest – Oradea line (line 101), at Ártánd or Borş.
The other option is to connect line 106 to Berettyóújfalu. This town (16 000 inhabitants) is also on the Budapest – Oradea line, but further west. In this variant, most of line 106 would be left isolated, and possibly abandoned. Both alternatives are under official consideration, as part of EU-aided policy on cross-border cooperation. The map is from “A Debrecen–Nagyvárad vasútvonal” by István Káldi.
Restoration of a rail link Debrecen – Oradea.
The new link to Berettyóújfalu would create a 35-km regional line south from Debrecen, and allow through trains to Oradea. That assumes upgrading to modern standards: at present, even the main line is single-track. (It was once a main route to Bucharest, and in Romania this is still a main line, Magistrale 300)
The new link requires about 17 km of new track, between Derecske on line 106, and Berettyóújfalu. The station at Derecske has a logical location, on the main road into the town from Debrecen (M47), but it is relatively far from the centre. There is no easy alternative for the present alignment, so the new line would simply curve around the town on the east side. It would follow the M47 toward Berettyóújfalu, and curve west around the town, into the station.
Click to enlarge: New line in red, superimposed on Austro-Hungarian map of around 1910.
A modernised regional line to Berettyóújfalu would have three intermediate stations, at the larger villages of Mikepércs, Sáránd, and Derecske. Any surviving rural halts would disappear. From Berettyóújfalu, it is 35 km to Oradea.
There is one major improvement to the existing alignment: the line can be routed through Debrecen Airport. The former Soviet airbase was built over the original railway, which was rerouted around it. A tunnel under the runway, and a new underground station beside the terminal, would almost exactly follow the old alignment. With an airport tunnel, the line Debrecen – Berettyóújfalu would be 38-40 km long.
Debrecen line rerouted through airport tunnel.
The route Debrecen – Berettyóújfalu – Oradea would be about 75 km long. Assuming upgrading and electrification, a regional service, with no stops between Berettyóújfalu and Oradea, should take less then an hour for the journey.