László Palkovics, Hungary’s minister of technology and industry, on Tuesday said he had discussed the potential of rail freight transport as an alternative to sea shipping at the inaugural meeting of a Bulgarian-Hungarian-Serbian-Turkish transport working group in Istanbul.
The war between Russia and Ukraine has shown that modes of shipment that had earlier seemed realistic “will be less of an option now” and Ukraine will have to be bypassed, Palkovics told MTI by phone on the sidelines of the meeting. Palkovics said that at his last meeting with his Turkish counterpart six months ago, they had discussed a number of different topics, including coordination in connection with the Budapest-Belgrade rail line. He noted that Turkey has set up a consortium to determine how the Turkish and Bulgaria-Serbia-Hungary rail line could best be used. The European Union currently moves 20% of commodities by rail, and the aim is to increase this share to at least 50% by 2050, the minister said. Palkovics said the working group’s meeting had centred on the infrastructure to be developed by the four countries, noting the importance of maintenance. The working group’s participants agreed to start building the required trains, Palkovics said, adding that Hungary had already started doing its part. The four countries also agreed to explore possible passenger transport developments, the minister said. Whereas the shipment of goods from Europe to China takes 45 days by sea, rail shipment would take only 12 days, Palkovics said. Tuesday’s meeting created the possibility for considering alternative modes of shipping, he added. The working group will next meet in October, he said.