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Socialists urge broad rail upgrades over state’s airport purchase

The money the government plans to spend on the takeover of Liszt Ferenc International Airport could instead be invested in comprehensive upgrades to Hungary's rail network, the opposition Socialist Party said on Wednesday.

The 1,536 billion forints (EUR 4bn) the government reportedly wants to spend on Liszt Ferenc International operator Budapest Airport could be spent on the public procurement of 115 electric locomotives, motor trains and doubling the train fleet, Laszlo Varga, the party’s deputy leader, told an online press conference.

Neither do budget and air transport experts think the government’s purchase would be justified, he said.

The government “has recently spent 700 billion forints on the takeover of a mobile service provider, so the funds are there, but the cabinet isn’t spending them in the right places”, Varga said, referring to Antenna Hungaria and state-owned Corvinus’s acquisition of Vodafone Hungary.

Hungary’s rail network “is in crisis, lacks funding, and there are not enough trains or staff”, he said.

Half of the money to be allocated towards the takeover of the airport would be enough to replace the entire rolling stock fleet, while the other half could be enough for comprehensive network maintenance, he said.

Varga called on the government to reconsider its plans and embark on a broad upgrade of the country’s rail network.

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