Reconstruction of the Hungarian section of the Budapest-Belgrade railway is delayed again
The planned reconstruction of the Hungarian section of the Budapest-Belgrade railway is being delayed again. If finished, it would be the first huge Chinese infrastructure project within the European Union. However, it is being postponed again after the Hungarian government announced that the public tender for the project would be repeated because the estimated costs of the reconstruction went up again by more than 10 percent.
As VSquare and Atlatszo reported last year, the proposed railway reconstruction is part of Chinas’s Belt & Road Initiative. Beijing already bought the port of Pireus in Greece and needs a railway line to transport goods into the heart of Europe. To this aim they need the Budapest-Belgrade railway line reconstructed, and it seems like Hungary is willing to do its part.
It is going to cost the Hungarian taxpayers a huge amount of money. The government in Budapest is planning to take a Chinese loan in order to be able to finance the project. It will be constructed by a consortium wherein Chinese companies have an 85 percent share, and in the end the railway will be primarily used by the Chinese because there are no major Hungarian towns along the railway.
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Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban boasts about his good relationship with China and the success that the policy of Eastern Opening brought him. He often responds to criticism from Brussels by mentioning his new rich and illiberal friends who are willing to help him.
Cover photo: Viktor Orban in Beijing in May 2017 Photo: Balázs Szecsődi / Press office of the Prime Minister