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Agreement on the modernisation of Belgrade-Budapest railway to be signed next week

Hungary and China have initialed the intergovernmental agreement on the modernisation of the Belgrade-Budapest railway and its signing is expected next week, at the China and Central and Eastern European Countries Summit. The Hungarian government will submit the agreement to the Hungarian parliament for ratification, and carry will out consultations with the European Commission.

The 166 km long railway line linking Budapest and Belgrade will be modernised, electrified, equipped with new safety devices and also extended with a second track, on which 740-metre-long trains will be able to run. Travel time for passenger trains between the two capitals will decrease to two and a half hours; the suburban railway system will also be modernised. The costs of modernising the Hungarian section will be more than HUF 470 billion (EUR 1.5 bn).

85% of the implementation costs will be financed by a Chinese loan, informed Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade . After the signing of the intergovernmental agreement, negotiations about the financial questions will also come to an end. The aim, he added, is to take into account every aspect of the national economy’s interests.

According to the MTI press agency, the Chinese party would like to see Chinese-made rolling stock on the Belgrade-Budapest line. The Minister said that he made it clear to his partners that this can only happen if Chinese production bases are set up in Hungary, creating new jobs.

The Hungarian party expects the planned railway line to be the most competitive means of transport between Greek ports and the Western European market. With this investment, the Minister said, Hungary will exploit its geographical location and take another step towards being a relevant European section of the One Belt, One Road strategy: the road of Chinese economic expansion.

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