Budapest, August 25 (MTI) – The Municipal Council of Budapest on Monday voted to move ahead on the financing of renovations on the city’s Metro Line 3, including making preparations for a loan to fund the project.
Only representatives of the opposition E-PM party voted against.
The priority investment includes calling a tender for the refurbishment of the line’s Soviet-era trains.
After the vote, Budapest’s mayor Istvan Tarlos said the city would move to start train renovations but further negotiations with the government were needed to clarify the financing of the infrastructure upgrade.
Fully 220 carriages will be renewed, extending their lifespan by another 20-25 years and costing 60-65 billion forints (EUR 192-207m), while buying new carriages would have cost 90 billion forints, he said. Refurbishment of the carriages is scheduled to be completed by the turn of 2015/16, he added.
Tarlos said that the complete renovation of the tunnels, tracks, the control system and the stations could be finished by 2019. He added that he would consult the development minister on possible ways of using European Union funds to cover a part of this 100 billion forint project.
The mayor said that the replacement of the tracks, which started a year and a half ago, would be completed next year.
Tarlos insisted that the line is safe.
The Socialists voted in favour of the motion on Monday, but Norbert Trippon, deputy leader of the party’s Budapest chapter, earlier criticised the project’s financing, calling it “outrageous” that the city was taking out a “huge loan”. The government should draw in other funds, even at the cost of cancelling “prestige investment projects”, he said.
Radical nationalist Jobbik also called for state funds to support the project.
Ferenc Falus, the Budapest mayoral candidate of the opposition Socialist, E-PM and DK parties in the upcoming municipal elections, said that the government should use the 100 billion forints set aside to move the prime minister’s office to Buda’s prestigious Castle District for the metro refurbishment instead.
The green opposition LMP said in a statement that the M3 line, used by hundreds of thousands each day, was in a dangerous state of disrepair, and insisted that “the city is behind with the project [and] still in the preparatory phase…”
In its statement, the party asked why the city and the government were reluctant to use EU funds to renovate the metro line or purchase new carriages.
Before Monday’s vote, Budapest council member Akos Hanzely, delegated by E-PM, said that his party suspected a secret deal whereby a contract to renew the trains would be dished out to a preferred bidder. He said it was “unacceptable” that “run-down, thirty-year-old trains should be renovated at two-thirds of the price of new ones”.
Photo: MTI – Laszlo Beliczay