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Ministry wants to end passenger service on 33 rail lines

Hungary's Transportation Ministry wants to end passenger service on 33 rail lines next year that cost a combined HUF 7 billion to operate Transportation, Telecommunications and Energy Affairs Minister Péter Hónig said, after the ministry published its proposal for the 2010 railway timetable.

The lines to be shut down are a combined 1,000 kilometers in length. About 6,400 passengers travel on the lines every day. Infrastructure on the lines will remain, allowing them to be used by freight trains.

The lines were picked from 46 that were reviewed, Hónig said.

There will continue to be public transportation in places where there was before, Hónig said. The ministry will propose running buses between the communities connected by the lines to be shut down, he added.

The ministry wants to reduce the number of buses that travel along stretches that are also serviced by rail, Hónig said, although he said there were no concrete figures about cuts in buses when asked a question.

A decision has to be made soon on the timetable as changes must be announced by the second Saturday in December.

Asked how much MÁV's restructuring would cost, Hónig said about HUF 48 billion over three years, an amount the company wants to finance with loans.

No blue-collar railway workers are expected to be laid off in 2010, though about 1,000 white-collar workers will be let go.

Making a new timetable for passenger rail travel in Hungary is the first element of a transformation of Hungary's public transportation system in 2010-2012. By the end of the third year of the program, the aim is to make a combined HUF 70 billion in savings from changes.

Efficiency of state-owned railway company MÁV must be improved, the system of tariffs and discounts has to be restructured, and the company must be made smaller. (MTI – Econews)