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New tender to be called for Budapest-Belgrade rail upgrade

Hungaryʼs government will call a new tender for the upgrade of the Hungarian stretch of the Budapest-Belgrade railway line because of a 10% increase in the estimated cost of the project, state news wire MTI reported on Wednesday.   

The Government Information Center confirmed a new tender will be called for the project, according to a decision taken at a cabinet meeting on December 12.

The cost of the upgrade, which will become part of a corridor for the delivery of Chinese goods to Europe, was estimated at HUF 578 billion in May, but the most favorable bid made since then has been HUF 693 bln, MTI reported. As the government does not wish to shoulder a cost overshoot, it is calling a new tender. As a result, the planned date for the start of construction is expected to be pushed back from 2019 to 2020.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said in September that Hungary and China - which is financing 85% of the cost of the upgrade - want to finish talks on conditions for financing the upgrade by the end of 2018. He said "intensive" negotiations with Chinaʼs export-import bank on the financing are underway.