Trans-border freight shunting to become a thing of the past

A rail crossing between Hungary and Ukraine is being upgraded, allowing freight to pass more smoothly and quickly across the border.

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The work will centre on Záhony in north-east Hungary, a key rail hub close to the country’s border with Ukraine and the nearby town of Chop. Existing track along a 43-km stretch will be upgraded, enabling the transport of heavier loads and the lifting of current speed limits.

Gauge differences

In 1990, some 14 million tonnes of freight passed through the Záhony railway border crossing. Although this volume tailed off over the following decade, it has since remained relatively stable – at around five million tonnes incoming from Ukraine and around one million tonnes outgoing.

Due to different rail gauge standards between the two countries, freight has always had to be transhipped via shunting stations on both sides of the border. They are located at Chop in Ukraine, and in the small town of Záhony and its vicinity – including several villages to the south (Fenyeslitke, Tuzser and Eperjske). Rail freight in recent years has also suffered because of the significant growth in road freight traffic in this area.

This project aims to tackle these challenges by rehabilitating the Záhony region’s wide-gauge (1 520 mm) main railway line system and hauling tracks (1 520 mm and 1 435 mm). Similar work is planned for other tracks in Eperjeske marshalling yard, with the partial rehabilitation of related signalling equipment, including the corresponding power supply, outdoor lighting, telecommunication and switch-heating works. The tracks to be rehabilitated will be rebuilt on their present route, with the same alignment parameters.

Heavier loads

After completion of this project, almost 43 km of track will have been rebuilt between Záhony and nearby transhipment stations and/or marshalling yards to the south of the town. Work will include the replacement or reconstruction of current rail-line sections rated at 48 kg/m and 54 kg/m, upgraded to allow wheel loads of 60 kg/m. The track will then be able to carry heavier freight trains, with loads up to 245 kN (kilonewtons).

Trains on this route also face speed limits along almost 40 % of its length. All these limits will be lifted, thanks to the track rehabilitation.

It is also hoped that the improvements in general will generate an increase in freight traffic handled in the Záhony area, rising from the current 5.7 million tonnes per annum to 8 million tonnes per annum in 2015. This would also help to maintain the area’s current favourable split between freight volumes carried by rail and road.

Total and EU funding

The project “Development of the Railway Infrastructure in the Region of Zahony” has a total eligible budget of EUR 88 832 400, with the EU’s Cohesion Fund contributing EUR 75 507 500 for the 2007 to 2013 programming period.

Draft date