Participants of the SE Europe - China summit in Belgrade | Barna Burger

Budapest-Belgrade fast train route to be built by China

December 17, 2014

Hungary, Serbia and China signed an agreement on the modernization of the Budapest-Belgrade railroad on Wednesday. It will be part of a transit route to allow the fastest transportation of Chinese goods form Greek harbors to Europe, participants of the Central Eastern Europe-China summit announced in Belgrade.

Cooperation between the EU and China has reached a milestone with the signing of an agreement that will create an express railway connection between Belgrade and Budapest, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said at the meeting. Axed from the list of EU co-funded projects, the USD 2.89 billion railway development will be realized with Chinese funding.

Signed by the prime ministers of Hungary, Serbia and Macedonia, as well as by China's Premier Li Keqiang, the agreement is about upgrading a 334-kilometer-long double-track electrified railway line, to be completed by the end of 2017. The project aims to reduce travel time between Budapest and Belgrade from the current 8 hours to approximately 2.5 hours by facilitating 160 km/h speed along the line.

The prime ministers told a joint press conference that they were glad about the high-speed railway project "now being certain," adding that it would benefit the countries of central and eastern Europe, the EU, and overall cooperation between China and this part of the world.

China has agreed to take care of the financing side and is expected to extend credit covering 85% of the entire project value. The terms and conditions of the loan will depend on how the project tasks will be split between Chinese vs. Serbian or Hungarian companies. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang expects that the railway will prove to be of benefit to both China and the countries of central and Eastern Europe and the EU.


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