“The government and the Ministry of Innovation and Technology are committed to the continuous development of the road and rail networks and the public transport toolbox; this serves the country’s economic interests and the security and convenience of the Hungarian people and Hungarian families”, the Ministry’s State Secretary for Parliamentary and Strategic Affairs Tamás Schanda said at a joint press conference with Hungarian State Railways (MÁV) in Budapest on Wednesday.

He added that the administration regards improving the quality and efficiency of public and freight rail services as a strategic goal, and is striving to assure that an increasingly competitive railway system, in tandem with bus transport, offers an adequate service package for public transport.

Mr. Schanda said the Ministry is handling improving the competitiveness of public transport services, and particularly of environmentally friendly and economic rail, which provides the backbone of those services, as a priority versus individual transport solutions.

He told the press that over the past ten years railway projects jointly financed with the EU have been realised in Hungary at a value exceeding 1300 billion forints (EUR 3.9 billion). The government plans to spend a total of some 1800 billion forints (EUR 5.4 billion) on development projects within the 2016-2024 period, on completed railway projects or ones that are in process or in preparation.

At the press conference, President and CEO of MÁV Zrt. Róbert Homolya told the press that thanks to the service development projects, a total of some 3.1 million people travelled using MÁV-Start’s international routes in 2019, a year-on-year increase of 6 percent. Last year, 138 million people used the company’s domestic rail services, with traffic increasing on most routes compared to the previous year. The highest increase of 22.5 percent was realised on the Budapest-Esztergom line, with the increase in traffic on the Budapest-Kunszentmiklós-Tass and Budapest-Tatabánya stretches of railway close behind.

Detailing the development projects, the CEO of Hungarian State Railways pointed out, amongst others, that the refurbishment of the company’s Talent multiple unit driving coaches began last year, and that as a result of the work being completed jointly with Austrian railways, the full fleet of 10 Talent engines will be in operation from the end of this year.

The company’s own self-developed and produced new generation InterCity railway cars have the required European certification and represent over 50 percent Hungarian added value. 20 were manufactured by summer 2019 and a further 50 will be built this year, the goal being to replace outdated railway cars with these modern pieces of equipment over the upcoming 4-5 years, Mr. Homolya explained.

The President and CEO also pointed out that in the interests of modernising traction stock a tender has been published for the procurement of 115 electric locomotives, with the purchase expected to be realised on credit.

The first two-storey electric trains are soon expected to appear on Budapest’s suburban railway network, and according to plan, only modern multi-unit trains will be in operation in the capital’s agglomeration from 2022, he told reporters.

Mr. Homolya said one of the major changes of 2019 was the transformation of ticket purchasing habits, with a major increase in the number of tickets sold via the MÁV mobile application. Last year, passengers purchased almost 4.6 million railway tickets, passes and upgrades using the MÁV mobile app.