ZOLTÁN MÁNDOKI, General Director of Hungarian State Railways, gave details at the CEE Rail event of MÁV’s plans to develop its freight and passenger businesses and outlined progress being made towards establishment of a commercial railway conforming to EU directives.

Provisional traffic figures for 2004 put freight volume on the 7729 route-km network at 45·4 million net tonnes, up from 42·9 million in 2003 when market share was 29%. Passenger traffic was on a downward trend, with 156·6 million trips compared with 157·2 in 2003 and 161·9 million in 2002. The declining figure reflected outdated rolling stock and deteriorating infrastructure, particularly on secondary lines. This may change in the future once a public service contract is agreed to cover 2004-08.

MÁV is concentrating its early efforts to improve passenger services on the Budapest suburban network. Among recent improvements to the passenger fleet is the arrival of the first of a fleet of Desiro diesel trainsets from Siemens; these have entered service between Budapest and Esztergom, where tracks have been renovated, signals replaced and preparations made for doubling. Refurbished stock has been introduced on routes from Budapest to Szolnok via Cegléd and Újsz