Europe’s largest intermodal terminal is currently under construction in Fényeslitke, in eastern Hungary, almost in sight of the border with Slovakia and Ukraine. ITJ correspondent Claudia Benetti took a closer look at a western gateway to Asia and an eastern gateway to Europe.
Railfreight transport solutions along the New Silk Road are booming. In 2020 alone, the number of goods trains travelling between China and Europe increased by 50%, compared to the previous year; the figure thus broke through the barrier of 10,000 journeys for the first time. According to China Railways, a total of 12,400 trains travelled on the routes between China and Europe last year.
Frontiers at the western end
However, the further growth of railfreight transport on the New Silk Road is increasingly coming up against limits. One of the main bottlenecks on these routes are presented by transhipment terminals in Poland and Belarus, where most east–west traffic is handled. These gateways operate practically at maximum capacity.
Thus the enterprise East–West Intermodal Logistics Service is now building a new intermodal terminal in Fényeslitke (Hungary). New capacities for container handling are coming up on a 125 ha site there. The options for transfers from rail to rail or between truck and rail will cost around EUR 61 million to build. There will additionally be storage areas and facilities for various terminal services.
Major project in eastern Hungary
Broad-gauge and standard-gauge rail lines meet in the Hungarian village near the Ukrainian and Slovak borders. The project therefore includes the construction of five tracks at each side of the facility, with 1,520 mm and 1,435 members gauges.
In addition, a craneable track is also planned, where four 750 m trains can be handled simultaneously. Trans-loading will be carried out by cranes with 45 t loading capacities. A dedicated 5G network will also be installed on the site, to ensure as rapid communications as possible, and the terminal will be powered – to the greatest extent that is possible – by green energy, for operations that go easier on the environment. Another one of the new facility’s goals is to obtain ATEX and ADR certification, which will allow users there to handle hazardous goods too.
1 million teu handling capacity
The hub is scheduled to start operations in the first quarter of 2022; by the time it is completed it will be the largest inland intermodal terminal in Europe and a key new gateway on the New Silk Road.
In the first phase the centre will handle a throughput of approximately 300,000 to 500,000 teu a year; later on, when it is fully operational, it will manage 1 million teu of goods annually. East–West Intermodal Logistics Service recently managed to get the company Euro Transit Group on board as a partner for the terminal project. The Kazakh enterprise already operates several rail and truck terminals on the border between Kazakhstan and China.
Together, the two companies want to develop a fast and reliable alternative route for east–west land transports along the Russo–Ukrainian–Hungarian route through the new hub in Hungary.
In addition, terminal operations in Fényeslitke and Dostyk, the most important transhipment point on the border between Kazakhstan and China, are also set to be coordinated. This effort is intended to simplify rail transport solutions between Asia and Europe, according to word from the two companies.