The Prime Minister said that if the Government listened to its critics, nothing would ever happen in Hungary, but “the rails must be laid down, the country must be developed”.
Mr. Orbán explained that the railway tracks removed by the communist regime in the 1970s were originally laid around 1800 to connect Bicske with Székesfehérvár. The new forest railway line has been constructed on a short section of the original tracks, between the Pancho Arena in Felcsút and the arboretum in Alcsút, but it should be built as far as Bicske, he said.
The plan for the second phase is complete, and “we will see whether we will have the money for it”, Mr. Orbán said, explaining that a significant amount of own resources is needed, which the current development received from the foundation of the Felcsút football academy.
The Prime Minister said that in Hungary there are fifteen forest railways, for which a combined total of 800,000 tickets were purchased in 2015. This shows that there is a significant tourist demand for forest railways in Hungary. In recent years seven forest railways have been established, including the newly inaugurated one in Váli-völgy. Mr. Orbán pointed out that the existing lines should be modernised, but proposals for increasing the number of forest railways have also been made.
The Prime Minister stressed that the new forest railway in Váli-völgy runs along a scenic route, which is somewhat short at the moment, but if the line is extended to Bicske there could be connecting trains from Budapest and its suburbs.
The new Váli-völgy forest railway was constructed with the help of a non-refundable EU grant of HUF 600 million. The long-term aim of the project is the revival of the old railway line, which would give new impetus to the region’s tourist development. According to plans, the forest line – similarly to other lines – would connect tourist attractions and entertainment centres in the area.
In recent years a total of HUF 2.7 billion has been spent on renovating Hungary’s forest railways as part of seven EU projects. In five cases (e.g. the forest railways in Lillafüred, Szilvásvárad and the Börzsöny) the decisions were made before 2010.