Horgos border crossing, Source: Meelosh, Wikipedia, (CC BY SA-3.0 Unported)

Szeged - Subotica railway line gets new lease on life

Szeged - Subotica railway line gets new lease on life

The one-way trip will take 40 minutes when reconstruction is completed in September 2022

Once used by many locals going to work or school, Horgos railway station now stands like a ghost of its past amid the wilderness. No one is waiting on the platform by the empty building with graffiti-ridden walls; the rails are overgrown with grass and weeds; a rusty gate closes the tracks which have seen no train rumbling along since 2015, when railway traffic between Szeged and its sister city Subotica ceased.

Happy ending is near

But, rest assured, the story of the railway running through Horgos, Serbian village in the autonomous province of Vojvodina and border crossing to Hungary, will have a happy ending, and not in some distant future but in 14 months time, when its overhaul is planned to be completed.

The Subotica-Szeged railway renovation project was given a final boost last week when the Serbian government and a consortium of companies signed a contract in Belgrade to renovate the section between Subotica and Horgos, reports Pannon RTV. The value of the investment is 10,277 billion Serbian dinars (about 87 million euros).

Serbian section much cheaper

The Hungarian government has already engaged Lőrinc Mészáros to build the section of the line between Szeged and Horgos. In this connection, Sándor Nagy, the deputy mayor of Szeged responsible for urban development, draws attention to the conspicuous disparity in construction costs. While Mészáros, whom he calls the Hungarian king of public procurement, will build 18 kilometres of line for nearly 45 billion forints, the 50-km section in Serbia will cost the equivalent of just over 30 billion forints, according to Nagy’s Facebook post.

Costs aside, the overhauled Szeget-Subotica line will become one of the most modern electrified railways in Europe, with trains running at 120 km/h, state-of-the-art equipment and signalling and safety systems in line with European standards, says Serbian Minister of Transport Tomislav Momirović. The rails will be replaced, and the embankments will also be renewed. On the Serbian side, the buildings of the stations in Palic, Királyhalm and Horgos, and the stops at the Customs Warehouse and Hajdújár, will be up for renovation, as well as 13 road crossings.

40-minute trip

István Pásztor, President of the Hungarian Association of Vojvodina, commented on Facebook that when the line becomes operational in September 2022, people can get from Subotica to Szeged by train in forty minutes. This will especially aid commuters who live in border settlements but work elsewhere in Serbia or Hungary. The politician also expressed hope that the renovation work will be extended from Subotica to the railway’s final destination - Baja, in the foreseeable future.

Sándor Nagy cautions that the promised 40-minute trip from Szeged to Subotica will be only possible if border control becomes “extremely flexible”. Achieving this can turn out to be a bigger task than the reconstruction itself, says Szeged’s deputy mayor.

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