Home Politics Railways along the Belt and Road | Serbia and Hungary have the best train in the Balkans

Railways along the Belt and Road | Serbia and Hungary have the best train in the Balkans

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Editor’s note: On the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), let’s take the railways of BRI partner countries and explore the projects and local sights and sounds. In this article in the “Railways along the Belt and Road” series, we focus on the newly formed Hungary-Serbia railway and how projects along the route have improved daily life in the Balkan region of Europe.

Hungary-Serbia Railway /Shen Shiwei and Huang Ruiqi

Hungary-Serbia Railway /Shen Shiwei and Huang Ruiqi

Hungary-Serbia Railway /Shen Shiwei and Huang Ruiqi

Traveling by train in Europe’s Balkan region is no longer an exhausting journey, mainly because the century-old railway between Budapest, the capital of Hungary, and Belgrade, the capital of Seria, is reinvigorated thanks to Chinese technology high speed, which also complies with European standards. technical standards for interoperability.

A century ago, the route was once used by the famous Orient Express, with main terminal stations in Paris and Istanbul and branch lines extending service to Athens, Brussels and London. But the old railway line, a key access route to the Balkans and Greece, had not been redeveloped for 40 years. Today, the brand new high-speed railway will be the most modern railway route in the Balkan region of Europe.

The Hungary-Serbia railway is reborn thanks to Chinese high-speed technology, which also complies with European technical standards of interoperability.  /CCTV

The Hungary-Serbia railway is reborn thanks to Chinese high-speed technology, which also complies with European technical standards of interoperability. /CCTV

The Hungary-Serbia railway is reborn thanks to Chinese high-speed technology, which also complies with European technical standards of interoperability. /CCTV

The modernization of the Hungary-Serbia railway covers a total of 341.7 kilometers, of which 183.1 kilometers are in Serbia and 158.6 kilometers in Hungary. Once fully operational, the project will reduce travel time between the capitals of the two countries from 8 hours to 3 hours.

Since the Belgrade-Novi Sad section was put into service in March 2022, the 80-kilometer route carries passengers at speeds of up to 200 km/h, compared to less than 50 km/h previously.

A train travels on a bridge on the Belgrade-Novi Sad section of the Hungary-Serbia railway.  /Xinhua

A train travels on a bridge on the Belgrade-Novi Sad section of the Hungary-Serbia railway. /Xinhua

A train travels on a bridge on the Belgrade-Novi Sad section of the Hungary-Serbia railway. /Xinhua

In the Balkan region, it is not only the century-old railway that is being modernized under the Belt and Road Initiative. Known as the “pride of Serbia”, the century-old Smederevo steelworks came back from the brink of bankruptcy and a serious situation where 5,000 employees were unemployed.

Everything has changed since China’s HeSteel Group (HBIS) invested 46 million euros ($51.9 million) and established HBIS Serbia in 2016. The modernized factory has started to increase production and improve its environmental performance . Five years after the establishment of HBIS Serbia, the steel mill has become the country’s second largest exporter. The revived factory provides good living and working conditions for many families, gives children the opportunity to go to school and young people do not need to leave their hometown and look for employment opportunities. employment in other cities or even in other countries.

The century-old Smederevo steelworks in Serbia has been revived thanks to Chinese investment.  A steel fabrication workshop at HBIS Serbia in Smederevo, Serbia, May 17, 2021. /Xinhua

The century-old Smederevo steelworks in Serbia has been revived thanks to Chinese investment. A steel fabrication workshop at HBIS Serbia in Smederevo, Serbia, May 17, 2021. /Xinhua

The century-old Smederevo steelworks in Serbia has been revived thanks to Chinese investment. A steel fabrication workshop at HBIS Serbia in Smederevo, Serbia, May 17, 2021. /Xinhua

In the Balkan region, it’s no longer complicated to drive from mainland Croatia to visit Dubrovnik and see the Game of Thrones filming locations. Thanks to the 2.4 km long Peljesac Bridge, built by a Chinese consortium led by the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), it is for the first time that the two parts of the Croatian coastline divided by a small part of territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina were connected.

Fireworks celebrating the inauguration of the Peljesac Bridge, which connects two parts of the Croatian coast divided by a small part of the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 26, 2022. /Xinhua

Fireworks celebrating the inauguration of the Peljesac Bridge, which connects two parts of the Croatian coast divided by a small part of the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 26, 2022. /Xinhua

Fireworks celebrating the inauguration of the Peljesac Bridge, which connects two parts of the Croatian coast divided by a small part of the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 26, 2022. /Xinhua

Co-financed by the EU and built by China, the Peljesac Bridge reflects cooperation between China and the EU under the Belt and Road Initiative, under which companies Chinese companies won the tender amid fierce competition and followed EU standards. Croatia now benefits from the largest infrastructure project ever carried out in the country.

China and the EU financed the construction of the Croatian Peljesac Bridge, which connects two parts of the Croatian coast divided by a small part of the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina.  /CGTN

China and the EU financed the construction of the Croatian Peljesac Bridge, which connects two parts of the Croatian coast divided by a small part of the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. /CGTN

China and the EU financed the construction of the Croatian Peljesac Bridge, which connects two parts of the Croatian coast divided by a small part of the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. /CGTN

Increased cooperation and projects under the BRI have brought benefits to the local population and the country’s economic development.

Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) faces the same coal dilemma as many countries around the world. For some, fossil fuels are killing the environment; for others, they provide a reliable source of electricity and heat. The new Stanari thermal power plant, built in China, not only meets strict European environmental regulations and standards, but it also tackles air pollution caused by a conventional method of burning poor-quality coal. Most importantly, locals can proudly say that their average salary is the first in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Stanari thermal power station in Stanari, northern Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH).  /Xinhua

The Stanari thermal power station in Stanari, northern Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). /Xinhua

The Stanari thermal power station in Stanari, northern Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). /Xinhua

With a Chinese-built stretch of highway linking Montenegro’s underdeveloped north to the capital Podgorica and tourist havens to the south, people can forever say goodbye to the worries of driving on dangerous old roads.

A section of the Bar-Boljare highway, built by a Chinese company, would connect mountainous Montenegro to the European road network and boost the economy.  /Xinhua

A section of the Bar-Boljare highway, built by a Chinese company, would connect mountainous Montenegro to the European road network and boost the economy. /Xinhua

A section of the Bar-Boljare highway, built by a Chinese company, would connect mountainous Montenegro to the European road network and boost the economy. /Xinhua

Construction of the first Chinese vaccine factory in Europe has started in Belgrade. Chinese battery giant CATL has officially launched a Hungarian factory with a total investment of 7.34 billion euros ($7.28 billion) to support the green transition and the development of electric vehicles in Europe. It is one of the five largest new investments made in Europe in the last 10 years and the largest investment ever made in Hungary. All of these BRI projects have made a difference in people’s lives.

By 2025, when the Hungary-Serbia railway project is fully operational, it will be a game-changer in improving connectivity between the Balkan region and other parts of Europe and Asia.

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