Déli, Nyugati tunnel plan

The Prime Minister's Office and the municipal authorities are examining building a tunnel linking the capital's Déli and Nyugati railway stations, with partly European Union funding. Balázs Fürjes, government commissioner for greater Budapest, said such a plan had been drawn up as early as 1937, and should be revisited today. Déli would go underground, allowing surface areas to be developed. Similarly, at Nyugati a large area would be freed up and part of the railway put underground.

# House in Dörgicse (near Balaton) wins Family Home of the year award


E-fares 'late, costly'

Opposition LMP will turn to authorities over delays in introducing a unified electronic fare system for Budapest's public transport. LMP municipal councillor József Gál says that after 10 years of planning, the e-ticket system should have been ready last January, but there is still no target date. Gál says Budapest's municipality has already drawn HUF 5.3 billion from its HUF 17 billion European Bank for Reconstruction and Development loan. So far only 29 buses and trolleybuses had been equipped with e-ticket terminals as against the targeted 11,000, and several laws had been amended to justify redesigning the entire system.

Szél exits LMP

Bernadett Szél says she is quitting the opposition green LMP party and resigning from its parliamentary group. She said: "I have to change because the policies I wish to represent can only be fully carried out if we part ways with mutual respect." Her "fight for Hungary's renewal" would continue and she still believed "the future is green". LMP said it regretted Szél's decision and praised her efforts. In August, Szél said she would resign as group and co-leader after LMP's ethics committee barred her from holding any party positions for three years. The committee made its decision after the LMP leadership held talks with other opposition parties on cooperating in the April general election and withdrew multiple of LMP's individual candidates in their favour despite the party's congresses having passed several resolutions prohibiting this.

# Olympic champion Katinka Hosszú wins her 400th swimming world cup medal in Budapest

Express railway for V4

The Visegrád Four countries will jointly build a high-speed railway connecting Budapest, Bratislava, Brno and Warsaw, Hungarian foreign minister Péter Szijjártó has said after talks with the transport ministers of the other three members. The decision meets the political interests of all four – the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia –, Szijjártó said. The public procurement tender to draw up a feasibility study would be called immediately, with this process taking two years or so. The two-track line would suit trains up to 250 km/h, and they would only stop in the four places.

# Chain Bridge lit in pink to raise awareness to the importance of breast cancer screening

Killing the opposition

The ruling Fidesz-Christian Democrat alliance is more popular than the opposition parties combined, and would win more than 60 percent of Hungary's European Parliament seats if the election were held now, a fresh poll by the Nézőpont Institute shows. Fidesz-KDNP would win 13 out of Hungary's 21 seats, followed by conservative Jobbik with four. The Socialists and the Democratic Coalition would win a combined three seats, and green LMP one. Fidesz currently has 12 delegates in Strasbourg, Jobbik three, the Socialists and DK two each and LMP and the now-defunct Együtt-Párbeszéd alliance one each. Among decided voters, Fidesz-KDNP's list would capture 52 percent of the vote in a general election held now, Jobbik 18 percent and the Socialists and DK 8 percent each.

MOL lays cornerstone for new HQ

Hungarian oil and gas company MOL has laid the cornerstone of its new 28-storey headquarters. At 120 metres it will be Budapest's tallest and is planned to be ready by 2021. MOL head Zsolt Hernádi said at the ceremony that the HQ will feature innovative technological solutions not yet seen in Hungary. He said MOL's decision for a building that "puts the focus on workers" is in line with its 2030 strategy. Budapest Mayor István Tarlós said the building will be far from the capital's world heritage zone. Earlier this year, Gergely Gulyás, head of the Prime Minister's Office, said the government would ban skyscrapers to preserve the city’s traditional profile. The MOL project was approved before the ban, which will apply to buildings over 90 metres tall, with case-by-case decisions for those 65 to 90 metres.

# K9 national championship in Baracska

Mastercard rates Budapest

Budapest rose seven places in 12 months to be the world’s 32nd most popular tourism destination in Mastercard's latest index of 162 cities based on visitor volume and spending for 2017. The figures show that nearly 6 million international visitors stayed an average five days in Budapest last year and spent nearly USD 3 billion or an average daily USD 103 per capita. Bangkok, London and Paris topped the list.

GDP growth upgraded

Economic research company Pénzügykutató has revised its GDP growth forecast for this year to 4.4 percent from 3.9 percent, researcher Éva Várhegyi says. Growth is supported both by the favourable external environment and stimulus measures, she said, and is expected to slow to 3.2 percent next year. The government's official forecast for GDP growth this year is 4.3 percent.

Car-sharer adds Mercs

Hungarian oil and gas company MOL is expanding its car-sharing MOL Limo fleet with 50 Mercedes-Benz A Class subcompact executive cars. They will join the 100 electric and 300 petrol-fuelled Volkswagen Up models in the fleet. The charge for the Up models is HUF 77 a minute, while the charge for the A Class is HUF 111 a minute. But motorists who have a monthly plan with MOL Limo pay a per-minute charge of HUF 66 for the Volkswagens and HUF 99 for the Mercedes. More than 35,000 motorists have used the car-sharing service since its launch in January, driving over 1.5 million kilometres in the capital.

Uni, China launch MBA

The Budapest Corvinus University and Shanghai's Fudan University are launching a joint Master of Business Administration programme. National Bank of Hungary governor György Matolcsy said the aim is to produce talented and highly skilled professionals. He said the scheme is part of Hungary's support for China's Belt and Road initiative to create a new "Silk Road" of trade links between China and Europe. Hungary and Central and Eastern Europe "form a bridge" between Europe and China, and the region has already proven itself as the European Union's "small but well-functioning engine of growth" in recent years, Matolcsy said.

Airport halves CO2

Budapest Airport has cut its carbon dioxide emissions per person by almost 50 percent over the last three years, the company says. The airport was the first in Central and Eastern Europe to receive "carbon neutrality" status from ACI Europe, the largest umbrella organisation of European airports, at the start of the year.

# Greenpeace protests for ban of plastic bags

Göncz statue unveiled

A statue of Árpád Göncz, Hungary's first post-communist president between 1990 and 2000, has been unveiled in Budapest’s District XIII. Addressing the ceremony, András Gulyás, the head of the Árpád Göncz Foundation, said the former president, a one-time writer, translator and dissident, had dedicated his entire life to relentlessly fighting for democracy. József Tóth, the district mayor, said Göncz kept to his high moral standards when serving in the highest office. Göncz died on October 6, 2015, age 93.

Nightclub man jailed

The Municipal Court has jailed businessman and nightclub owner László Vizoviczki for seven years and fined him HUF 330 million for tax evasion and other crimes in a final ruling. Vizoviczki, the owner of several nightclubs in Budapest, was charged with defrauding the central budget of billions of forints in unpaid taxes between 2010 and 2012 by concealing some revenue. Last year he was handed a seven-year prison term and a fine of HUF 600 million. Out of the 33 defendants charged with complicity, several received shorter prison terms and lesser sentences.

# First morning freeze of autumn in Zabar

F1 noise quietened

The Constitutional Court has annulled an amendment to noise protection regulations near car race tracks, citing breach of the right to a healthy environment. A judge ruling in a lawsuit brought against the state-owned company running Hungaroring, the venue of the Formula One Hungarian Grand Prix, turned to the top court, which ruled that the amendment raised the threshold for acceptable noise pollution. According to the constitution, legislation must not reduce already acquired levels of environmental protection, the top court stated.

Audit threat to parties

The State Audit Office has proposed suspending state funding for the opposition Párbeszéd and Momentum Movement parties. Under Hungarian law, a political party that receives voter support of one percent or more on its national list must submit to a state audit of their campaign spending within 12 months of the ballot. Párbeszéd and the newly established Momentum failed to submit data or documents and could not be reached at their registered premises, the auditor says. Párbeszéd responded that it had submitted the required data and was in the midst of registering its new premises.

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