Do We Need a Through-running Railway Station in Budapest?
A Baanders, Ecorys, NL; C Orosz, T Princz-Jakovics, Budapest University of Technology and Economics, HU
A draft proposal has been advanced to build a Central Railway Station for Budapest. The study will look at the options for such a station, at the purposes it can and should serve, and will also present alternatives, for the short and the longer term.
The passenger railway network of Budapest, capital of Hungary, currently has four important stations. [Plus a number of minor ones.] One is a through-running station and three are terminal stations. All are well served by the public transport network. There are railway lines running around the central part of the city; on its south and east side; that connect all four main stations.
A draft proposal has been advanced to build a "central station" (a "Hauptbahnhof") for the city; that would also be a through running station. The study described in this paper will look at the usefulness and the options for such a station, at the purposes it can and should serve, and will also present some alternatives, for the short and the longer term. In the discussion of alternatives, the paper will look at examples from other European cities and their railway stations.
The passenger railway network around Budapest serves two types of traffic, for suburban and for long distance trips. Trips within the city are served by a dense network of metro, tram, trolleybus and bus lines and a separate suburban network called "HÉV", all operated by the urban operator BKV. The suburban and long distance train services are run by the national railway company MÁV. Some longer distance trips are run in cooperation with other railway companies.
As for the suburban services, the population of Budapest is spreading into the suburbs and cars of commuters are increasingly leading to congestion on the city's road network. This tendency is expected to continue with all the negative effects that heavy car traffic produces. A transfer from car to train is therefore desirable and there is considerable scope for improving the suburban rail services, with faster and more comfortable trains, fixed interval schedules and better equipment and park-and-ride facilities at the suburban stations. In fact, for the city's economic development and to meet its environmental goals, a good suburban train network is vital. Plans have been made for such a network, under the name "S-Bahn", but these have not been implemented yet.
The long distance services include train services form and to the other parts of the country and some international trains. Of the latter, the most important one for the international economic position of Budapest and the Central Hungarian Region is the fast and frequent connection to Vienna (every 2 hours), operated by modern ÖBB RailJet trains. For other business travel, Budapest is dependent on air services. However, a good rail connection between the central city and the airport is lacking. Other international trains are slower and run over longer distances with an option of sleeping accommodation.
The question for this paper is what the contribution of a single central station with trough-running trains could be for the economic development of the city as well as for meeting its environmental goals.
Different locations for such a station have been examined and these will be discussed in the paper, in the light of their economic and environmental contributions. The distinction we are making is between the level of the daily suburban traffic and the long distance and international traffic. (The latter distinguished in trips to and from Budapest and trips that only pass through Budapest.)
For the suburban travel (and especially the home to work purpose) it would be most advantageous if the suburban (or S-Bahn) trains would serve several points in the city. Given the configuration of the present network, with no railway tunnel through the city centre, suburban trains serving several points where there are good metro and tram connections to other parts of the city appear to be the best solutions. Such connections exist at all four current main stations and could also be provided at some intermediate points. Is one central station required for this?
For the long distance travel (and especially the business travel purpose) a good terminal for the Vienna train is important, but does a central station have added value over the existing stations? An airport connection is also important and the paper will examine terminal option for this.
Train travellers only passing through Budapest would be best served by a through-running station in which the dwelling time of the long distance national or international trains is kept as short as possible. For such travellers, however, a central location is not relevant. The existing and developing "Kelenföld" station or 2 other low-cost solutions could well perform this function. The study gives some support to make a decision.
Association for European Transport