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China-built high-speed railway in Serbia flourishing after 2 years

By LUO WANGSHU | China Daily | Updated: 2024-03-20 09:25
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More than 6.8 million passenger trips have been made on the China-built high-speed railway in Serbia during its two years of operation, and the remaining leg of the line is expected to be operational by the end of this year, according to China Railway International.

Tuesday marked the second anniversary of the opening of the Belgrade-Novi Sad section of the Serbia-Hungary Railway, the first high-speed railway in Serbia and also a landmark Belt and Road Initiative project in Europe.

The number of passenger trips on the railway has increased each year.

During its first year of operation, the line handled nearly 3 million passenger trips.

In the second year, 960,000 more trips were made, China Railway International said.

Now, an average of 62 passenger trains are operated every day, with the peak daily passenger volume reaching 15,059.

In total, 6.83 million trips have been made over the past two years.

"The safe, efficient, convenient and comfortable high-speed railway has created a better travel experience for passengers, and has been widely favored by people along the line. The volume of passenger trips has continued to increase significantly, with the train occupancy rate remaining at a relatively high level," the company said.

"As the line shortens travel time between two cities, more and more people are embarking on a new commuter lifestyle as they travel between the two cities," it said.

The railway facilitates the movement of people, cargo, capital and information along the line, driving the development of commercial and tourism industries.

The number of passengers traveling to the historical and cultural attractions along the line is increasing, creating a large number of job opportunities, bringing development opportunities to more enterprises and greatly promoting socioeconomic growth in the region, according to the company.

"Now people are traveling from Belgrade to work in Novi Sad because it is about 30 minutes by train, and before the railway it was about 90 minutes," said Marko Jeremic, head of infrastructure at Serbian Railways, adding that ticket prices are affordable.

He said that collaboration with China Railway International on the high-speed line made it possible for Serbia to be the railway leader in the western Balkans.

"In that way, we became the leader because no other neighboring countries — Croatia, Hungary and Bulgaria — have high-speed lines over 160 kilometers per hour," he said.

With a designed top speed of 200 km/h, the 80-km Belgrade-Novi Sad railway is a part of the 342-km Serbia-Hungary Railway, an important BRI project in Europe linking Budapest, the capital of Hungary, and Belgrade, the capital of Serbia.

Upon completion, the Serbian section of the railway will total 183 km, with a designed top speed of 200 km/h.

The Hungarian section will be 159 km and have a top speed of 160 km/h.

The Serbian section is expected to be operational by the end of this year.

The Hungarian section is under construction. Upon completion, travel time between Belgrade and Budapest will be reduced from eight hours to about three.

The railway is the flagship cooperation project between China and Central and Eastern European countries, and the first project to align China's railway technology and equipment with the European Union's technical specifications for railway connectivity.

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