Fast trains are very slow in Slovakia

The average speed on the Bratislava - Banská Bystrica route is only 68 kilometres per hour.

(Source: Sme)

THOUSANDS of people take the train between Košice and the capital each week, with the ride lasting almost six hours. However, Košice is a mere 445 kilometres away from Bratislava on rails, thus the train travels about 75 kilometres an hour on average.

Passengers between Bratislava and Banská Bystrica are even worse off: the route, slightly longer than half of the above-mentioned, takes three-and-a-half hours; meaning this is only 68 kilometres an hour on average.

Both the Chinese fast trains and European ones (e.g. TGV in France) are much faster. The difference is caused, among other things, by the poor state of railway infrastructure in Slovakia, Pavol Kravec, former head of the rail carrier ZSSK,  told the Sme daily.

The country started modernising and increasing the speed on rails between Bratislava and Košice more than 10 years ago, but trains will run quicker no sooner than in 2020. And even then, it will be 160 km/hour at the most – and in some sections, like between Žilina and Košice, the speed will reach only 120 km/hour. The slowest section is between Bratislava and Banská Bystrica; along some stretches the route offers a maximum speed of 80 km/h. Moreover, this route is not even planned to be modernised.

The Economy Ministry plans rather to invest in the hyper-fast route – Hyperloop – between Bratislava and the Austrian capital, Vienna.

“The construction of a Hyperloop is cheaper than the construction of a fast route,” said Miriam Žiaková, ministry spokesperson, adding that a potential arrival of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies means a different viewpoint – innovations and technologies.

On the other hand, Ondrej Matej, head of the Institute for Transport and Economy and an adviser to former prime minister Iveta Radičová, opined that it seems like a waste of time to deal with such a project when Slovakia does not have enough finances to complete the elementary road network and to secure good-quality railway infrastructure at a 21st century level.

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