CEE economy on course following Budapest-Belgrade Railway Project

Chinese companies are taking part in an increasing number of infrastructure projects in Serbia and the region. As one of those flagship projects, the Budapest-Belgrade Railway linking Serbia and Hungary is predicted to greatly boost the economic development of the Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries.

Aerial image of the Zemun-Borca Bridge. (Photo: China Road and Bridge Corporation)
Aerial image of the Zemun-Borca Bridge. (Photo: China Road and Bridge Corporation)

When completed in 2018, the Budapest-Belgrade Railway project will significantly shorten the travel time between Serbia and the central region of Europe, which is helpful to build the country into a regional transportation and logistics hub, hailed Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić.

 Aerial image of the Zemun-Borca Bridge. (Photo: China Road and Bridge Corporation)

Aerial image of the Zemun-Borca Bridge. (Photo: China Road and Bridge Corporation)
“The train-ride from Budapest to Belgrade will be reduced from 8 hours to 3 hours,” the Prime Minister added.

“The renovation project will thoroughly reinvent the 100-odd-year old railway, offering a more convenient travel option for the Serbian and Hungarian people,” said Tamjan Krnjević, senior researcher of the Serbian Centre for International Relations and Sustainable Development (CIRSD).

Krnjević told People’s Daily that both the Hungarian and Serbian governments and peoples are eagerly waiting for the early completion of the Budapest-Belgrade Railway project given its enormous boost to the economic development of the CEE countries .

“It is not only a flagship project of China-CEE strategic cooperation, but a landmark for the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative,” he pointed out.

Besides the Budapest-Belgrade Railway project, the Zemun-Borca Bridge is another calling card for China in the European infrastructure market. Completed in the end of 2014, it has put an end to the over 70-year-long “domination” of the Danube Bridge in Belgrade.

“The bridge has upgraded the north-south transportation route of Serbia,” former Serbian Transportation Minister Aleksandar Antić praised. “Moreover, it is also beneficial to the urban environment as trucks and chemical transportation vehicles do not have to pass through the city center anymore,” he added.

As the bridge, also the first European bridge constructed by Chinese companies, greatly benefits local transportation and economy, it was labeled the “China bridge” or “friendship bridge”.

Sanja Vasić, head of the Center for International Economic Relations under the Belgrade Chamber of Commerce mentioned that Chinese infrastructure companies have taken on several important projects in Serbia.

The E763 Highway project between Serbia and Montenegro, for example, was contracted by the Shandong Hi-speed Group. With a total length of over 50 kilometers, the highway will significantly cut down the traveling hours between Belgrade and its neighboring countries as well as the port.

China Road and Bridge Corporation, the construction company of the Budapest-Belgrade Railway project and the Zemun-Borca Bridge, will also build industrial parks near the Danube Bridge to set up a platform for Chinese and European enterprises.

By Ren Yan, Wang Yuan from People’s Daily/NewsGhana.com.gh

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