High-speed line Szekszárd – Osijek via Mohács

The high-speed line Budapest – Szekszárd, proposed here earlier, was intended as a route to Novi Sad and Belgrade. It can also be extended south to Osijek, creating a Danube right bank high-speed line (HSL). This line would have a similar function to the incomplete M6 motorway from Budapest to Osijek.

The HSL could simply follow the M6 motorway, crossing the hills south of Bátaszék, and passing 10 km east of Mohács. At first sight, that is the easiest option. However, the HSL could avoid the hills almost entirely, and serve Mohács, by crossing the Danube twice (shown in blue on the map).

HSL Szekszárd - Osijek with alternative alignments.

That alignment would parallel the proposed regional line from Szekszárd to Mohács. South of Báta, the regional line would follow the Danube right bank, and the HSL would run inland from the left bank.

At Beli Manastir, the HSL from Szekszárd would join the proposed HSL Pécs – Osijek – Vinkovci. South of Beli Manastir, the existing rail alignment is very good, and the HSL would inevitably follow it.

HSL alignment from Szekszárd

The proposed high-speed lines from the north into Szekszárd are the HSL from Budapest, and the HSL from Győr via Székesfehérvár. The proposed Danube right-bank regional line via Dunaújváros, and the cross-Danube fast inter-regional line from Kecskemét via Kalocsa, would also enter from the north.

Between Szekszárd and Bátaszék, the existing rail line is indirect. The HSL would follow the M6 motorway, for most of the 17 km between them. The earlier proposal for a high-speed line connecting Pécs to Szekszárd and Baja included a triangular junction on the plain north of Bátaszék. With an additional HSL southwards, there would be four lines to consider.

pecs - szek - baja

The Szekszárd – Pécs HSL would certainly follow the the M6 motorway past Bátaszék: that would be the west side of the triangle. Some Pécs – Baja trains might stop at Bátaszék station, using a new curve onto the existing alignment. Through Pécs – Baja trains would run north of Bátaszék and Alsónyék, parallel to the new bypass, to join the existing Baja alignment. That is the south side of the triangle, also used by the link Szekszárd – Baja (shown in green on the diagram). The Mohács variant would leave the M6 north of Bátaszék, and pass between Bátaszék and Alsónyék (on the east side of the triangle).

Click to enlarge…

HSL junction with four alignments, close to Bátaszék.

There would be no interchange station: these isolated ‘gares des betteraves’ on high-speed lines, are generally failures.

South of Bátaszék, the M6 alignment would, like the motorway itself, need to cross several ridges in tunnel (the edge of the Mecsek range). It would be logical to combine the HSL alignments toward Pécs and Osijek, so the ‘M6 alignment’ might run north of the M6 near Veménd. After junction 174, the M6 turns to the south, and is more aligned with the topography.

The parallel ridges south-west of Bátaszék: the motorway is not visible on this 2006 image…

Ridges between Veménd and Bátaszék.

East of Mohács, the HSL would descend to the plain. The line is too far from Mohács (population 19 000), to effectively serve the town, and a HSL station here is pointless.

The alignment along the M6 would be about 98-100 km long, from Szekszárd to Osijek. The alternative via Mohács would be about 5% longer, but apart from a 2500 m tunnel at Báta, it crosses level terrain. It would be easier to build, and more suitable for higher speeds. It would also include a HSL station in Mohács, close to the town centre.

Báta – Mohács HSL alignment

The Mohács HSL would diverge from the M6, about 3-5 km north of Bátaszék. It would pass between Bátaszék and Alsónyék, and then follow the never-completed Bátaszék – Mohács railway. This old alignment toward Báta would also be used by the proposed regional line to Mohács.

Click to enlarge…

Unfinished rail line Bátaszék - Báta (line to Mohács).

The regional line would turn south around Báta, to follow the Danube bank, but the HSL would cross the river. It would first enter a tunnel near Báta, pass under the ridge, and emerge on the Danube river escarpment. It would then continue as a viaduct and bridge, crossing the Danube to just north of Dunafalva. The line would then turn south-west, to run parallel to the river on the left (east) bank.

Click to enlarge: HSL in purple, regional line in green, superimposed on the original railway geography, from an Austro-Hungarian military map of around 1910.

HSL Szekszárd - Osijek via Mohács, with two Danube bridges.

At Ujmohács, the line would cross the Danube again, directly onto the existing rail alignment. This local line from Pécs via Villány (Hungarian line 65), is built at right angles to the river – evidently in preparation for a railway bridge. The town centre is close to the river, and the HSL station would be close to the bridge, on viaduct.

From the station, the HSL would drop to ground level, and follow rail line 65 to the M6 motorway. It would then turn south, to follow the motorway to Beli Manastir. (This alignment minimises environmental impact, but the HSL could also run straight toward Beli Manastir, saving about 2-3 km).

Some inter-regional trains would stop at Beli Manastir (population 12 000). The HSL would use the existing rail alignment, which lies west of the small town. From Beli Manastir, it is 25 km to the Drava River opposite Osijek.

Click to enlarge: The line Monostor (Beli Manastir) to Esseg (Osijek), as built, taken from an Austro-Hungarian military map of around 1910

Austro-Hungarian railway Beli Manastir - Osijek, circa 1910.

The options for a new Drava bridge or tunnel, were considered in the earlier proposal for a Pécs – Osijek HSL.

The longer alignment via Mohács would be compensated by higher speeds, on its straight and level sections. Even with additional time for a stop at Mohács, the journey time via both options would be about the same – under 40 minutes from Szekszárd to Osijek. The journey time on the proposed 300 km/h HSL Budapest – Szekszárd would be close to 40 minutes, giving a total Budapest – Osijek time of close to 80 minutes.

High-speed line Szekszárd – Osijek via Mohács

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