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The Ministry of Construction and Transport will submit a ten-year railway development program to the government, including the renewal of tracks and the purchase of new rolling stock, János Lázár, head of the Ministry, said on Thursday on the program “Közös nevező” (Common Denominator) on Rádió7.

The minister stressed that

the aim is to modernize the aging railway network and the rolling stock over a period of ten years, step by step, focusing on the important tasks.

He explained that in public transport in Hungary, the most significant is the fixed rail system. In Budapest, the HÉV (local railway) lines – both track and rolling stock – need to be modernized, rail links between major cities and intercity and feeder lines in the county and district centers need to be improved. In conjunction with this, Volán must ensure access to the fixed rail link,” the Minister added.

Photo: Facebook/MÁV-HÉV Zrt.

János Lázár emphasized that this requires investments and a rail vehicle industry of its own. However, this is an area worth investing in, as we are talking about the transport of five million people, and on the other hand, a new industry can be built.

The politician said that there is currently no money in the budget for railway consolidation and development work. The necessary funds could be raised through EU funds and even through money market instruments, and could amount to HUF 6 billion (EUR 15.3 M). Until then, however, the aim is to ensure accident-free daily operations, he said.

In the past year, not only has the rate of delays increased, but also the risk of accidents, the minister stated, apologizing to those who have recently suffered accidents or been inconvenienced by delays and cancellations.

In 2022, the government decided to concentrate resources in rail transport in the area around the capital, and for this to happen, manpower is needed, and 100-150 people can make a difference. The reallocation of human resources, in addition to ensuring accident-free transport, is part of the reason for the suspension of rail services on ten branch lines from August.

However, the minister noted that in contrast to the line closures of previous governments, passengers are now guaranteed transport, with replacement buses taking them to their destinations when and where the train did before.

The politician pointed out that the $2.2 billion upgrade of the Budapest-Belgrade railway line is a priority for freight transport, as is the improvement of transit conditions in the West-East, where Budapest is the bottleneck. Although the construction of the southern circular railway has run into protests from citizens in the 11th district, the government is open to compromise – for example on noise mitigation – but cannot compromise on the program itself, and the country’s views cannot be overridden by political battles in Budapest.

János Lázár, Minister of Construction and Transport, on the radio show Közös nevező. Photo: Facebook/Lázár János

Speaking about the amendment to the Highway Code, the minister said that the last major change to the rules was made in 2009, and since then many more people have been using the roads in more ways, with new forms of transport, electric bicycles, and scooters.

The changes will be preceded by a wide consultation, all suggestions will be listened to, and the main concern will be to protect the interests of vulnerable road users, pedestrians, and cyclists.

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Featured image: Facebook/MÁV

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