Mohács (population 19 000) is located on the bank of the Danube, 45 km south of Szekszárd. It has a relatively isolated location, because there is no bridge here, but it is on a main north-south road route. It is the terminus of a local rail line from Pécs via Villány (Hungarian line 65, a very indirect alignment). A new rail route, from Szekszárd south to Villány, could be created by constructing a new link Bátaszék – Mohács. See also the later proposal, for a parallel high-speed line from Szekszárd to Osijek via Mohács.
Click to enlarge: The line superimposed on the original railway geography, taken from an Austro-Hungarian military map of around 1910.
A line along the right bank of the Danube, through Mohács, was planned since the First World War, as a long-distance north-south line. (The new M6 motorway has the same function). Construction near Bátaszék started in the 1940’s, but was abandoned. The alignment is still clearly visible from the air, and in the landscape.
Click to enlarge: the unfinished line across the plain from Bátaszék to Báta…
The line is viable as a regional route, extending the proposed right-bank inter-regional line Budapest – Dunaújváros – Szekszárd. Earlier proposals here would create a junction of high-speed lines (HSL) at Szekszárd – the proposed HSL Budapest – Szekszárd – Baja – Novi Sad, and the proposed HSL Győr – Székesfehérvár – Szekszárd. The proposed inter-regional line from Kecskemét via Kalocsa, would create a new route into Szekszárd across the Danube.
Diagram: inter-regional line from Kecskemét, and high-speed lines …
These lines would transform the function of Szekszárd in the rail network, and upgrading of connecting regional routes is logical. The existing line south from Szekszárd (line 46) turns east at Bátaszék, to cross the Danube (toward Baja). Bátaszék was formerly the junction with the Pécs – Bátaszék line (line 64), but this line has been abandoned east of Pécsvárad. Mohács is about 25 km south of Bátaszék.
The new section would connect the two north-south lines (line 46 and line 65), roughly parallel to highway 56. Trains would run from Szekszárd to Villány, about 65 km. Although that is a very small town, it is a former railway junction, and it would be served by some trains on the proposed HSL Pécs – Osijek – Vinkovci. The new regional service would use the existing line 46, for the 19 km between Szekszárd and Bátaszék. The proposed parallel HSL to Pécs and Baja would carry most passenger traffic, so there would be no capacity problem. At Bátaszék, the line would cross the Dombóvár – Baja route (line 50, and part of line 154). That is a regional route with limited utility for passengers, because of the long detours to Szekszárd or Pécs. It is the only Hungarian freight line across the Danube, south of Budapest.
Bátaszék itself is a small town with 7000 inhabitants: the station is aligned east-west, on the north side of the town. Both Bátaszék and Mohács lie in flat alluvial plains. However, between them is a plateau – the edge of the Baranya hills, which end in a ‘headland’ at Báta (1700 inhabitants). The incomplete 1940’s alignment, first runs through the plain, and then around this hill: it is visible as a semi-circle on the image.
Click to enlarge…
South of Báta, there is an escarpment along the Danube: the alignment follows the river bank, through the villages Dunaszekcső (2000 inhabitants) and Bár (500 inhabitants). A tunnel under the ridge to Dunaszekcső would shorten the route, but the alignment might require substantial demolition there. A longer alignment with more tunnels, is not appropriate for a regional line. The 1940’s alignment, curving around Bata, seems the best option.
Click to enlarge…
The alignment through Dunaszekcső and Bár is a problem, since the main road and most houses lie in the narrow strip, between escarpment and river. Two short flank tunnels are unavoidable, turning into the escarpment to avoid the houses on the river bank. After Dunaszekcső and Bár, the line would turn south to Mohács. It could follow an existing industrial siding, to a relocated station (the present Mohács Station is directly on the river bank).
Click to enlarge…
The new Bátaszék – Mohács section, using the incomplete 1940’s alignment, would be about 32 km long. From Mohács, it is 14 km to Villány. This small town is on an existing rail route south, consisting of the regional line to Pécs (the remainder of line 65, 36 km), and the minor international line to Osijek via Beli Manastir (line 66 in Hungary). With a station on the proposed HSL Pécs – Osijek – Vinkovci, it would be more important as a junction. That would also justify reopening of the currently closed line 62, Villány to Barcs (101 km).
Double bridge, no tunnel
An alternative is to use an alignment similar to the proposed high-speed line Szekszárd – Osijek via Mohács. The line would pass the eastern tip of the ridge at Báta, cross the Danube, and then turn toward Mohács. This alignment could serve two intermediate stations, at Báta and Dunafalva, but not Dunaszekcső (across the river from Dunafalva). It could use the old half-built embankment, but a new alignment further east is probably better. It must also cross reclaimed Danube meanders east of Báta, which are liable to flooding.
The Báta station would be near the existing bridge over one of these old channels. On the other side, the ground is also low-lying. Part of the line will require viaducts – on a floodplain, they are preferable to embankments. The line can pass close to Dunafalva, with a station at the edge of the village.
This alignment could be built for high speeds, but there is no point. Village stations don’t belong on a high-speed line, especially with high service frequency, so a HSL does not need to pass close to Báta and Dunafalva anyway.
Villány – Mohács – Baja?
An alternative for the alignment Bátaszék – Mohács along the Danube, is a new line across the Danube, from Mohács to Baja. Construction would be simpler: the line in Mohács would simply rise to a new bridge, and on the other side is flat open terrain. This new line can use the alignment of the abandoned local line Sombor – Bezdan – Baja, joining it near Nagybaracska, or possibly near Bátmonostor. In both cases, the new section (20-23 km long) would run across open fields, with no stations. However, use of the abandoned Bezdan line for a rail line from Mohács, precludes its restoration as a regional tram line, which was proposed here earlier.
The cross-Danube line from Mohács to Baja would be about 34-37 km long. At Baja, it would connect to the proposed fast line Baja – Subotica – Szeged (101 km). Like Szekszárd, Baja would also be on the proposed HSL Budapest – Szekszárd -Novi Sad. However, unlike Szekszárd, it would have no rail connection northward, although historically there were plans for a Budapest – Baja line (parallel to the Danube). In the context of all other proposed lines, the north-south option along the Danube (Bátaszék – Mohács) seems better than the cross-Danube option (Mohács – Baja).