Most commentators see an improvement in the transport infrastructure as essential for the continued development of the Ferenc Liszt International Airport, and plans for a high-speed railway link between the airport and Budapest have now been announced.
In addition, proposals for redevelopment of the road link between Határ út and Terminal 2 of the airport are at the permitting stage. Gábor Szarvas, director for community affairs and environment at Budapest Airport Zrt., the operator of Ferenc Liszt, commented that an improvement in transport links is central to improving the airport infrastructure and its development as a regional hub.
The proposed 22 km rail link from Kőbánya-Kispest metro station to Vecsés-Monor via the airport’s Terminal 2 will have a speed of 160-200 km per hour. The permitting process for the rail link is underway and is expected to be completed by the end of 2018, said Zoltán Budai, project manager at Nemzeti Infrastruktúra Fejlesztő Zrt. (NIF or National Infrastructure Development Corporation), in a presentation to the Liszt Ferenc International Airport Region Development Cluster (BARC).
The estimated development period is four-to-five years and the projected cost will be HUF 130 billion, financed by the Hungarian state and possibly EU sources, according to NIF.
“The aim is to enhance the profile of the airport and strengthen its competitiveness in CEE and to foster economic growth in the region by coordinating spatial planning, public investment and development initiatives,” said the cluster. “BARC sees airports as vital infrastructures that have a clear impact on their regions. The improvement of transport links between the airport and the center of Budapest and regional cities is seen as central to this,” said BARC.
The Cluster consists of local municipalities in the airport area, the Pest County Municipality, the National Air Traffic Management and Budapest Airport.
In addition to the redevelopment of the railway track, the plans include the development of a two-platform railway station at Terminal 2 in close proximity to the passenger terminal, and redevelopment of the train station at Kőbánya-Kispest.
Passenger numbers at the airport are expected to rise to 12 million for 2018 and 14.3 million in 2022, representing an annual growth rate that is out-performing most European airports. The goal is for Ferenc Liszt to become a regional hub to rival Vienna airport, which currently has around double the number of passengers. Budapest has 124 flight destinations with 43 airlines.
The upgrade and redevelopment of the major road linking Budapest and the airport is seen as important as 70% of airport journeys are by road, through private cars, bus and taxi. The existing four lane highway creates something of a bottleneck for traffic to and from the airport and therefore there are plans to expand the road into three lanes in each direction.
Full permitting for the project is expected to be completed by the end of 2018 and construction is planned to commence in 2109. The first HUF 9 billion phase of the project will receive municipal and possibly state finance according to Gábor Bátori, project manager for strategy at Budapesti Közlekedési Központ (BKK, the Center for Budapest Transport).
Plans for a high-speed rail link have been put forward by various developers in recent years. Although the current plans would see a significant improvement in connectivity, a direct high-speed rail link to the airport from one of the central Budapest railway stations with airport check-in facilities is seen by many as the best, albeit more expensive solution, one that would be more convenient for passengers and raise the profile of the airport.