Hungary is involved in a massive transport infrastructure development programme designed to boost the national economy and help the country make the most of its strategic location as a European trade hub.
Pál Völner, Minister of State for Infrastructure, highlights railroad expansion and road upgrades as two of the government’s transport infrastructure priorities this year. Hungary is crossed by two Trans European rail routes which the government is rapidly bringing up to EU standards. Pál Völner says, “Along these key routes, we are making improvements to boost maximum speeds to 163 km, and we are also building dual rails for electric trains. We are also installing new safety and control machinery and systems to be able to handle the higher speeds, as well as intelligent control systems that will enable these rail routes to be part of EU and international rail networks.”
Upgrades to the rail network are part of the government’s drive to reduce pollution and transport gridlocks by encouraging transport by rail rather than road. Pál Völner explains, “We are planning new infrastructure to cope with projected growth of our cities and we are also planning investments in electric transport in cities as well as projects to encourage zero emission vehicles. We want suburban residents to be able to travel by commuter train rather than by car.”
Hungary already has the highest railway density in Central and Eastern Europe and its rail network has attracted significant investment from foreign players. In one recent project, Thales and Dunántúli are to provide interlockings, a control centre and ETCS Level 2 RBC for the 66 km Szajol–Püspöklandany rail line by the end of 2015; the initiative is budgeted at €70 million.
Hungary has also made significant improvements in its road network. Pál Völner says, “We have rebuilt almost all our motorways, and now one can travel across Hungary almost all the way on a motorway. We are currently working on a section of the motorway that leads to Romania and we are continuing work on the M3 to Ukraine as well as on connections to Bratislava. Most of this work has been done over the past year.” During its EU presidency, Hungary oversaw the conclusion of an agreement on the Euro vignette Directive, which includes a road tax on heavy goods transport by road using the “polluters pay” principle; Hungary’s commitment to the issue illustrates the government’s focus on environmentally friendly transport development.
‘Pay for use’ system to help finance maintenance
To finance its many major road development projects, Hungary is relying on EU structural funds and “pay for use” systems. Pál Völner says, “Financing maintenance of the motorways is always a challenge. We hope that the ‘pay for use’ system will cover maintenance and that in a couple of years the system will be self sufficient.”
“We want suburban residents to be able to travel by commuter train rather than by car.”
Hungary is also developing its air transport infrastructure. The country’s air transport is centred on Budapest International airport, which has been seeing growing numbers of passengers and was recently modernised in a €261 million programme designed to stimulate more passenger and cargo traffic while also improving customer service. Major Hungarian cities have also reopened and are continuing to modernise their own airports.
River transport development a top priority
Another goal for the Minister of State for Infrastructure is to improve Hungary’s water transport system, and the government has managed to implement new regulations for this potentially important part of Hungary’s transport network. PAKS, a 150,000 sqm port on the Danube, is a driving force behind the development of Hungary’s river transport system. PAKS is owned and operated by Sygnus, a major player in Hungary’s infrastructure sector with activities in all areas of logistics services.
Hungary’s ongoing infrastructure development represents an outstanding investment opportunity. As Pál Völner points out, “All these projects will significantly enhance the Hungarian economy and make it more attractive to investors.”
Road construction leader welcomes international partnerships
Colas, a global leader in road construction, has established four operations in Hungary that cover the full range of infrastructure construction activities. It has played a key role in Hungary’s infrastructure development for the past two decades and has positioned itself as the ideal partner for projects in Hungary and beyond.
Colas has built more than 100 km of motorways in Hungary. Its major recent projects include the construction of motorway M3, the widening of M0 ring road and a 12 km stretch of motorway M31. Colas Út, a member of the Colas group, produces one third of the asphalt manufactured in Hungary and operates 14 asphalt mixing plants. The group also contains Colas Alterra, which specialises in water infrastructure; Colas Északko, which operates 12 quarries to produce aggregate stone; and an independent agency, which specialises in handling large-scale motorway and bridge construction projects. Exceptional knowledge in technology, research and innovation make Colas the leader in major infrastructure projects worldwide.