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Budapest Mayor: M3 to shutdown should Prime Minister Office halt development funds

János Lázár, Hungary’s Minister of the Chancellery in charge of short-term and medium-term EU projects intends to drop a series of billion-worth projects planned for Budapest transport development. Among these projects are: the rehabilitation of M3, the continuation of tramways acquisition, renewal of metro cars on M1 (“földalatti”), connecting M2 and Budapest commuter rail HÉV.

M3 and M1 are in critical condition and, according to the latest plans, they cannot receive funds for rehabilitation over the next seven years. The losses for the capital city could amount to several hundreds of billion forints if local authorities decide to go forward with the developments. Budapesti Közlekedési Központ (Centre for Budapest Transport – BKK) development plan estimates the reconstruction and extension of metro line M3 to Káposztásmegyer to EUR 500 million. The reconstruction and extension of metro line M1 is estimated at EUR 170 million, while the interconnection of M2 and Gödöllői HÉV suburban railway project is estimated at EUR 570 million.

The Budapest Lord Mayor István Tarlós wrote a sharply-toned letter to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, hoping that – in consideration of the life-threatening condition of M3 – Lázár will change his mind. Tarlós said he could be forced to shut down the metro line. According to the municipality, M3 is a national case, considering it is carrying more passengers than MAV, the Hungarian national railway passenger operator. 

The cabinet has recently approved the Integrated Public Transport Operative Programme for the 2014-2020 period, which does not contain any of the capital city’s projects. The PM’s Office suggests that Budapest has already reached the average on an EU development scale therefore Brussels no longer finds it justified to keep financing transport projects in the capital city. It has completely utilised the opportunity offered by the European Commission, i.e. it rechanneled 3% of EU funds available for underdeveloped regions, including country towns such as Hódmezővásárhely, for Budapest developments. According to the local press, investment will be provided for a new tram-train line to be built between Szeged and Hódmezővásárhely, Lázár’s hometown is kept on the project list.

The PM’s Office argues that this is everything the government could do, and in such a situation a responsible mayor would go and lobby [for funds] in Brussels.

 Sources: budapest.hu, index.hu, porfolio.hu, bkk.hu


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