Lines around Subotica and Szeged

This item simply lists the rail infrastructure proposals centred on the cities of Subotica and Szeged. Both would be served by the proposed high-speed line from Budapest, which would split south of Kecskemét. The high-speed line (HSL) via Subotica would continue to Beograd (Belgrade). The HSL to Szeged would use the existing route via Kikinda, to Timişoara.

The other lines with proposed upgrading, and new lines or sections, are:

upgraded line Baja – Subotica – Szeged, 101 km

upgraded line Subotica – Sombor, 61 km

fast inter-regional line Subotica – Senta – Kikinda, 76 km

Szeged – Bečej – Novi Sad regional line, 132 km

upgraded Szeged – Békéscsaba line

Szeged – Makó – Arad regional line

regional line Szeged – Lovrin – Timişoara

Kikinda – Lovrin – Arad

See the related list of lines on the Central Alföld, which partly overlaps with this list.

Lines around Subotica and Szeged

Inter-regional line Subotica – Kikinda via Senta

This inter-regional line would link Subotica in the Bačka region, to Kikinda in the northern Banat region. Both are part of the larger Pannonian Plain. The Bačka and Banat are traditionally divided by the river Tisza, one of the few natural barriers on the plains. The alignment to Senta exists already, but a new section to Kikinda is needed, with a new bridge over the Tisza.

Click to enlarge: The base map is an Austro-Hungarian military map of around 1910, without the 1920 borders, and with older Hungarian spellings.

The route would acquire significance, in the context of other proposed lines in the region. Subotica (Szabadka in Hungarian, population 100 000) is on the route of the proposed high-speed line from Budapest via Kecskemét. The high-speed line would displace the transit function of the existing main line from Budapest, the Kelebia line (named for the border crossing). It would then carry regional and inter-regional services, possibly terminating in Kikinda. Other patterns of service are also possible, for instance a fast inter-regional service Pécs – Timişoara, via the upgraded Baja – Subotica line, and the new line to Kikinda.

The line from Subotica to Senta was built in 1889. In 1915, an 8-km line was built across the Tisza to Čoka: it starts just outside Senta station. The whole region was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until 1918: the proposed line is in the Vojvodina region of Serbia. (The base map uses Hungarian names, some in older versions, and it does not show the Čoka link).

The line runs south-east from Subotica, through very flat country, and then turns east into Senta. This section would be double-tracked, electrified, and upgraded for 200 km/h.

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The largest village on this section, Orom, has a population of only 1600 – not enough to justify a station on an inter-regional line. Most of the alignment is straight, with a few intermediate curves. The double curve at the junction with the line from Kanjiža, at Gornji Breg, would need improvement. (This line would be re-opened as a Szeged – Novi Sad regional line).

The line turns about 30° into Senta station, and then about 40° after the station, onto the line to Ada. Senta (Zenta in Hungarian) itself has population of 20 000. All trains would stop there, so the curves near the station are not a problem. The existing road-rail bridge would remain in use, for local services to Čoka and along the east bank of the Tisza. Senta station is about 1500 m from the town centre.

The new section would diverge from the existing line to Ada, at the industrial zone on the southern edge of Senta. It would then cross the Tisza, pass south of Ostojićevo / Tiszaszentmiklós, and then go straight across the plain to Kikinda. (See the first map, with the new line in red). The alluvial plain is very flat, and the alignment dead straight, so the line can easily be built for high speed.

About 2 km north of Kikinda station, the new line would join the existing alignment from Szeged. This would either heavily upgraded, or even have a parallel HSL, as an extension of the HSL Budapest – Kecskemét – Szeged. From Kikinda, high-speed trains would continue to Timişoara, the economic centre of western Romania. There would also be interchange at Kikinda, with the line to Novi Bečej and Zrenjanin, and a restored regional line to Arad. (See the list of proposals for the regional lines in this region).

Kikinda itself has a population of 42 000, the municipality 67 000: it is the regional centre for about 100 000 people. Kikinda station is located assymetrically, at the eastern edge of the rectangular town, 2400 m from the main square.

The line from Subotica to Senta is 39 km long. The new section Senta – Kikinda would be about 37 km long, station to station. The total route would be 76 km. Given the very good alignment, and with only one stop, a Subotica – Kikinda journey time of 30 minutes is feasible.

Inter-regional line Subotica – Kikinda via Senta

Upgraded line Subotica – Sombor

The Sombor – Subotica line is in use, and no new alignment is proposed. The line is in the Bačka region, in the south of the Pannonian Plain. The region is in theory ideal for rail transport, but that requires some new lines, and upgrading of the mainly single-track existing lines. (See the list of proposals for the regional lines).

The alignment would not change, but its place in the rail network would. At present, Sombor (population 51 000) is on the secondary international line from Subotica to Osijek. It is a terminus for services from Beograd (Belgrade) – its position in Serbia is peripheral. That would change substantially with the proposed high-speed line from Budapest to Novi Sad via Szekszárd and Baja. The high-speed line (HSL) would run north-south, mostly on new alignment between Baja and Novi Sad. In Sombor, it would use the existing alignment through the station only.

HSL and bypass at Sombor, click to enlarge…

New high-speed line Budapest - Baja - Novi Sad

At Subotica (population 100 000), the upgraded line would connect to the proposed HSL from Budapest via Kecskemét. South of Subotica, this HSL would follow the existing main line to Beograd. An upgraded Sombor – Subotica line would therefore connect two HSL stations. It is also a logical complement, to the earlier proposed Baja – Subotica line.

At Sombor, most inter-regional trains would continue on an upgraded line to Vinkovci, connecting to more high-speed lines: from Zagreb and Vienna (Wien), on to Novi Sad and Belgrade (Beograd).

The new significance of the Sombor – Subotica line would justify upgrading, to a double-track electrified regional line. The line was built under the Austro-Hungarian Empire, as part of the the Alföld – Fiume line. This section was not cut by the 1920 borders: it is entirely within Serbia, in the Vojvodina region. The map below is from the Austro-Hungarian military map of circa 1910, showing the original railway network. The line is 59 km long.

Click to enlarge…

The line runs through flat countryside: the highest and lowest points differ by only 40 m. Like several others in the region, it is almost straight. It passes through only two municipalities, with a combined population of 245 000. The only large village on the line is Bajmok (population 8500), about half-way along the line. Three other villages might be large enough to justify a station: Svetozar Miletić (3000), Aleksa Šantić (2000), and Tavankut (3000). The smaller rural stations, originally typical of such lines, would be closed.

Upgraded line Subotica – Sombor

Upgraded line Baja – Subotica – Szeged

This line was already mentioned briefly in the context of the proposed high-speed line from Budapest to Novi Sad via Szekszárd and the associated project for a HSL Pécs – Baja. Upgrading would allow trains from Pécs to continue toward Szeged.

The line is described here, in the context of a list of rail proposals around Subotica and Szeged. Most of the rail network in the region was built under the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and many lines were cut when it was broken up after the First World War. Although Baja and Szeged are both in Hungary, the rail line between them crosses into the Vojvodina region of Serbia. The border is currently the external boundary of the European Union, and of the Schengen Zone. All proposals here ignore the borders.

Baja would be an important interchange station, on construction of the second HSL from Budapest to Novi Sad . It is not however a large city, with population of 38 000 (district total 75 0000). Besides high-speed services, the upgraded line toward Szeged would have a regional function.

The line Baja – Subotica is shown below, on the Austro-Hungarian military map of 1910, without the 1918 borders. (Click to enlarge, the map is detailed). The section to Bácsalmás is still in use as Hungarian line 154. The line is 60 km long.

The line would be upgraded to the standards of the German Ausbaustrecken. The line consists of straight sections, with a few curves at stations. It climbs 40 m to Csikéria, and drops 20 m into Subotica (Szabadka in Hungarian), so the average gradient would be about 1 / 1000. The only villages large enough to justify a station are Bácsbokod (population 2800), and Bácsalmás (7200). In Subotica itself, a suburban station on the main northern road (Karadjordjev put) would be logical. The main station of Subotica is 500 m east of the city centre.

Subotica (100 000 inhabitants, municipality 148 000) is a regional centre, on the existing main line Budapest – Beograd (Kelebia line). The proposed HSL from Budapest would replace the Kelebia line north of Subotica, leaving it as an inter-regional route. There would be interchange with the line to Sombor, and another inter-regional route to Kikinda, with a new line from Senta. Six lines would then converge on Subotica.

Trains from Baja would continue from Subotica to Szeged: this line would also be upgraded as a double-track Ausbaustrecke. The line is shown on the two 1910 maps below: it was 41 km long, including 13 km of the present Hungarian line line 136. It is also almost straight, with minimal gradients.

Click to enlarge…

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There would be stations at the lake resort of Palić (population 8000), at Horgoš (6000), at Röszke (3000), and at Szentmihálytelek (part of Szeged municipality).

Trains would use an existing curve, into a a new station on the proposed HSL Budapest – Timişoara. They would then use the existing line into Szeged station.

Szeged is the main centre of the region, with 170 000 inhabitants. Via a new bridge over the river Tisza (line in blue), the HSL would connect to the old alignment to Kikinda, and on to Timişoara. The new station (in red) is on the outskirts of Szeged, on the main road to Subotica – the HSL would run alongside the existing line from Kecskemét. There would be interchange with an upgraded line to Békéscsaba, with a regional line to Arad via Makó, and with a restored regional line to Timişoara. The line south along the Tisza / Tiza toward Bečej via Kanjiža, would also be re-opened: more on these lines later.

The flat plains and the straight alignments would allow high speeds on upgraded lines. With a station spacing of about 12 km for regional trains, a Baja – Szeged journey time of around an hour is feasible.

Upgraded line Baja – Subotica – Szeged

High-speed line Pécs – Szekszárd / Baja

A high-speed rail line (HSL) from Pécs, to a triangular junction south of Szekszárd, would allow the proposed HSL from Budapest to Novi Sad via Szekszárd to become the main route to Pécs (population 157 000). It would also complete the proposed HSL Koprivnica – Pécs carrying services from Ljubljana, Maribor, and Zagreb. These could be logically extended toward Szeged via Subotica (an existing but partly disused alignment).

Pécs, the red dot is the station…

Pécs, the topography and the station location.

The line would be about 45-50 km long. Unfortunately, the line would run at right angles to the local topography, for most of its length. Pécs is located at the foot of the Mecsek range (the vertical axis is exaggerated on the images). The terrain to the south of the hills is dissected by numerous streams from the range, and the line would cross many small valleys. The pattern is especially evident between Véménd and Bátaszék. The existing Pécs – Bátaszék line is therefore very winding and indirect: east of Pécsvárad, it has been abandoned and the rest was closed in the 2009 round of rail closures.

The new line would require a high-speed exit from Pécs station. For a few kilometres, this would be shared with the proposed high-speed line Pécs – Osijek – Vinkovci. The lines would split at the existing junction of lines 64 and 65. From there to the outskirss of Pécs, a tunnel under the main road (highway 6, Pécsváradi út) is probably the best option.

The closed line from Pécs to Pécsvárad, 23 km long…

The curving rail line from Pécs to Pécsvárad, 23 km long

As far as Pécsvárad, the new line would parallel the existing line, but it would be more heavily engineerd (and therefore shorter). From Pécsvárad, the line would turn due east to Véménd, between two hills, and parallel to the Karasica stream. This section would be about 15 km long. (It is the only section, where the topography is relatively favourable).

pecsvarad-vemend….vemend-tunnel

From Véménd to Bátaszék, the old line made a long diversion, to avoid crossing the parallel valleys. The new line would pass through a tunnel, or a series of tunnels and viaducts. South of Bátaszék, the new line would join the new M6 motorway. Several kilometres further, it would split at the new triangular junction. Trains from Pécs would turn either north to Szekszárd, and the HSL to Budapest, or east to Baja (about 20 km from the junction).

pecs - szek - baja

From Baja the old rail route to Szeged would be reactivated and upgraded. This is one of many lines cut by the new borders after the First World War. (Some of it is in use as Hungarian line 154). The line to Subotica via Bácsalmás is 60 km long, easy to upgrade. It also favours interchange at Subotica station, with the other proposed high-speed line, from Budapest to Novi Sad and Beograd.

baja-subotica

The old alignment from Subotica to Szeged is also suitable for heavy upgrading: it is 41 km long. Only part of it is in use (Hungarian line line 136). Trains from Subotica would serve a new station on the proposed high-speed line Budapest – Kikinda -Timisoara, and then contine to the existing city-centre station.

subotica-szeged….network-szeged

Szeged is the logical point to terminate high-speed services through Pécs, and originating as far back as Ljubljana and Zagreb. The whole route from Pécs to Szeged would be about 165 km long. Over new and upgraded lines, with two intermediate stops (Baja and Subotica), a journey time of close to one hour should be feasible.

High-speed line Pécs – Szekszárd / Baja

High-speed line Budapest – Novi Sad – Beograd

linescutAlmost all the territory between Budapest and Beograd (Belgrade) was once Hungarian-administered. When the railway between the two cities was built in the 19th century, only the last kilometres were in the Kingdom of Serbia. The rail network in the region suffered from the break-up of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after the First World War. Lines around Szeged and Subotica were cut by the new Hungarian-Yugoslav border. More damage in the Second World War, and tensions between the national states, obstructed restoration of a full network. The rail bridge at Novi Sad was bombed by the NATO in 1999, and only a temporary single-track road-rail bridge is currently available. 

The main cities between Budapest and Belgrade are Kecskemét, Szeged, Subotica, and Novi Sad – all with over 100 000 inhabitants. However, they are not in a straight line, and there is no rail line which passes through all of them. The Budapest – Beograd motorway does pass all three, although this adds to its total length. (The motorway has the advantage that it can avoid the city centres).

The shortest route Budapest – Belgrade is the Kelebia line, from Budapest to Subotica and Novi Sad. (Kelebia is the border station). The European Union sees the Kelebia line as the future rail corridor, Pan-European Corridor X, Branch B. However, this line does not serve Kecskemét or Szeged.

The solution proposed here would serve all three cities by high-speed rail. It starts with a new line through Budapest Ferihegy airport, connecting to a high-speed line (HSL) along the M5 motorway to Kecskemét (110 000 inhabitants).

M5 HSL

From Kecskemét, the HSL would parallel the existing line to Kiskunfélegyháza (or the line would be upgraded for high speeds). The eastern route would continue past Kiskunfélegyháza to Szeged. South of Kiskunfélegyháza, a completely new alignment would diverge, crossing the plain almost due south to join the Kelebia line into Subotica (100 000 inhabitants). The HSL would continue to Novi Sad and on to Belgrade. Again these lines can either be upgraded, or a parallel HSL built.

This combination of lines gives an optimum solution from a European perspective, and goes further than the limited corridors proposed by the EU. Generally following existing alignments, the proposal allows construction section by section. The local geography, the number of stations, and the level of traffic, would determine whether a parallel HSL or upgrading the existing line (Ausbaustrecke) is appropriate.

Double HSL from Budapest

From Szeged (170 000 inhabitants), trains would use a re-opened and upgraded line to Kikinda and Timişoara (308 000 inhabitants). This is one of the oldest railway lines in the region, originally built as a through line, with a bridge over the Tisza in Szeged. The bridge is gone, and the station is now a terminal, but there is no need to restore the original route. High-speed trains can use a new station on the outskirts of Szeged, with the existing station as terminus for other services.

The original pattern of rail lines lines around Szeged is shown below. This is an excerpt from the Austro-Hungarian military map of 1910, and has the advantage of showing lines that are now closed, including the former bridge over the river Tisza. The new line, connecting to the Kikinda line, is shown in blue. The new station (in red) would be situated on the main road to Subotica, Szabadkai út. (Szabadka is the Hungarian name of Subotica).

Click to enlarge…

Via a west-to-south curve (green), trains from Subotica could pass through the new station, and then use the existing alignment (shaded green) into the existing station at Szeged city centre. Trains from Békéscsaba (to the north-east) would also pass through the new through station, on their way to the central station.

Subotica would also be connected to Kikinda via the proposed Senta – Kikinda line. See also the proposal for a parallel high-speed line from Budapest to Novi Sad via Szekszárd.

High-speed line Budapest – Novi Sad – Beograd