Passenger train service from Belgrade to Novi Sad will be suspended starting February 1, according to JSC Srbija Voz’s website.
The Novi Sad –Subotica–Kelebija (state border) railway lines are rescheduled, while the international routes will be suspended or shortened. The restoration of rail transport is to be expected no sooner than 2020, due to infrastructure works which will last at least a year, and possibly longer.
The changes in the passenger train service leave the two biggest cities in Serbia off a direct railway connection, despite them being mere 100km apart. The capital is thus cut off from the north of the state.
Belgrade loses its direct connection to Budapest and Vienna. The continuity of rail transport connecting northern with the southern parts of Europe is also lost. From now on, the only remaining passenger line to Budapest will be the one from Novi Sad (which includes a stopover at the state border), while the second, night line, will also be suspended until the end of the announced works. Same goes for the international line from Belgrade to Vienna.
The pompously opened Žeželj bridge, the so-called “symbol of Serbia’s European future”, which has allowed regular train transport since last year, will be out of service for at least a year.
Last years’ relocation of the main railway station in Belgrade had already caused a decline of passenger rail travel. Shut down of traffic between Belgrade and Novi Sad will cause further decline of railway use and might contribute to its collapse. The public was informed about the cancellation of railway lines between the two biggest cities in Serbia only few days in advance, while an adequate substitute hasn’t been provided. Passengers are thus forced to use buses, which are a more costly, ecologically less efficient type of transport dominated by privately owned carrier companies .The duration of the time period during which the passenger train service will remain suspended hasn’t been specified.
No official statement has been released regarding possible suspending of rail freight transport.
Translation from Serbian: Iskra Krstić
This article was originally published in Serbian on Jan 31, 2019.