Székesfehérvár – Szolnok cross-Danube line

A new railway across the Danube south of Budapest, would provide a bypass of the urban area. It is a logical option, given the railway geography, and there have been plans for such a line. At present, a freight bypass is under consideration, with several possible alignments. The version proposed here is an inter-regional passenger line, connecting the railway networks east and west of the Danube. Preferably, it would link existing rail junctions – so alignment options are more limited.

Székesfehérvár is the logical junction west of the Danube, with five converging rail routes from west and south. On the eastern side, the line could run to either Kecskemét, Cegléd or Szolnok. A line to Szolnok would maximise connections eastwards, and most options for that route would pass through Cegléd anyway. (Kecskemét would be served by another proposed trans-Danube line, the fast inter-regional line Szekszárd – Kalocsa – Kecskemét).

The new line in the Hungarian rail network: base map by JolietJake under CC3.0 licence

New transversal rail line Székesfehérvár - Szolnok.

A new line between Székesfehérvár and Cegléd must cross the main channel of the Danube, the parallel Ráckeve channel, and between them Csepel Island. The line would also cross the M6 and M5 motorways. It would also cross 3-4 existing rail lines, and some lines proposed here earlier.

Alignment and connecting lines

The line would start at Székesfehérvár (population 102 000), the regional centre of Central Transdanubia. The city is a railway junction, and the new line would connect to Hungarian line 20 (Szombathely main line), to line 30 (Balaton main line towards Croatia), and to line 29 (Balaton north shore line). Székesfehérvár is also on the proposed high-speed line Győr – Székesfehérvár – Szekszárd, and the proposed Lake Balaton high-speed rail line.

West of the Danube, the new line would cross first Hungarian line 40, the existing Budapest – Pécs main line. The proposed high-speed line Budapest – Szekszárd would run through Pusztaszabolcs, after following the M6 motorway from Budapest (in purple on the map below). The high-speed trains would not stop there, but the trans-Danube link would have interchange with regional services on line 40.

Route of HSL from Budapest through Pusztaszabolcs.

The trans-Danube link would therefore follow the existing line 44 from Székesfehérvár, entering Pusztaszabolcs from the south (in brown on the map). The proposed Danube right-bank regional line via Dunaújváros would bypass Pusztaszabolcs, following the M6 between Iváncsa and Adony (shown in green). It would have no interchange with the new line.

From Pusztaszabolcs, trains would first use the line to Budapest. The new alignment would start near junction 44 on the M6, turning east to the Danube. It would cross the main channel by bridge, to Csepel Island. The island is served by Budapest suburban line H6 (line 252), terminating at Ráckeve. Without interchange, the line could run north or south of the built-up area., but the only logical site for a station is at the north end of Ráckeve. Demolition of some housing is inevitable here. The alignment shown is close to the existing station, and a separate interchange station would not be needed.

Cross-Danube rail line from Pusztaszabolcs, onto Csepel Island.

The line would then cross the Ráckeve channel, toward Kiskunlacháza. The line should allow interchange with line 150, the Budapest – Kelebia line. It is at present single-track, but planned for upgrading as a European corridor.

A tunnel under the village seems unavoidable here. Further east, the line must pass between gravel pits and the Kiskunság National Park, and avoid a former airbase. That implies an alignment near the existing Kiskunlacháza station, and if it is coming from Ráckeve, it must pass close to the village centre.

Rail line across Danube channel, from Csepel Island to Kiskunlacháza.

The tunnel would not be long: the village is aligned north-south and the line would cross it at right angles. The Kelebia line has a sharp curve near the station, which should be realigned: there would be a new two-level station on that section.

The transversal line next crosses line 142, a secondary line to Kecskemét via Dabas. The proposed Budapest urban-regional would incorporate this line, as far as Dabas. The most logical place for an interchange station is the existing station site, near the centre. To reach it, another tunnel is needed, through the built-up area of Dabas. Again this is a short tunnel, probably a cut-and-cover tunnel with limited demolition: it crosses only four streets. Following the main road (highway 50), the new line would turn southeast. It would have new platforms close to the existing station, at the edge of the built-up area.

New cross-Danube rail line, passing through Dabas built-up area,  in tunnel.

From Dabas, the line would turn east toward Cegléd, and cross the M5 motorway. This is also the alignment of the proposed high-speed line Budapest – Novi Sad – Beograd. That high-speed line (HSL) would start at Ferihegy airport, and run alongside the M5 motorway to Kecskemét. The transversal line would have a west-to-south junction, onto the HSL, allowing fast interregional trains between Székesfehérvár and Kecskemét.

The new transversal line would then join line 100, the main line east from Budapest via Cegléd. The line is double-track, but the existing alignment through Albertirsa needs improvement. The new line could avoid the built-up areas, and join line 100 at Budai út. station, on the northeastern edge of Cegléd.

Section of trans-Danube transversal rail line, from Dabas to Cegléd.

Trans-Danube trains would continue for another 29 km, from Cegléd to Szolnok. They could go further – to Debrecen, Oradea or Arad (lines 100, 101 and 120). Alternatively, they could terminate at Szolnok, for interchange with services from Budapest. (Even the fastest trains on these routes would stop at Szolnok (population 75 000), a major railway junction. The exact pattern of services is not considered here.

On this alignment, the new trans-Danube line would be about 115 km long, from Székesfehérvár to Cegléd. Almost all would be on new alignment, some of it parallel to existing rail lines. The new section would have only four intermediate stations, not necessarily served by all trains. The fastest trains would take about 75 minutes, for the 145 km Székesfehérvár – Szolnok journey. However, the line is not primarily intended for travel between these cities. Many passengers would travel from west of Székesfehérvár to east of Szolnok, and transfer to/from other lines at those stations.

Székesfehérvár – Szolnok cross-Danube line

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