A 109km gas pipeline linking Hungary and Romania was expected to be completed by February or March 2010, according to Romanian state-owned pipeline operator Transgaz. The pipeline runs from Arad in Romania to Szeged in Hungary and has an initial capacity of 1.7bn cubic metres/year (bcm/y), which will eventually be booted to 4.4 bcm/y. Meanwhile, Hungary’s gas transmission company FGSZ was said to have started a feasibility study on a gas pipeline link to Slovakia, to be built with Slovakia’s Eurstream. The Hungarian section of the pipeline would run to 94km between Vecsés and the border; the Slovakian section would be 20.3 or 21.5km long. This pipeline will have 5 bcm/y capacity and will be part-funded by the European Union with a EUR30mn (US$41.9mn) contribution.
As explained, we have become a little more pessimistic about Hungary’s macroeconomic prospects. We estimate real GDP contracted by 6.4% in 2009 (no change), and we are holding to our forecast for only 0.1% growth in 2010. Further ahead, we have trimmed our projections for 2013 and 2014. Average annual GDP growth in the five years to 2009 was only 0.7%, pulled down by the ‘2009 effect’. We project average GDP growth for the next five years, to 2014, to be a low 2.4%. The effect on our freighttraffic forecasts comparing the two five-year periods is therefore positive, albeit weakly so. We believe road haulage and rail freight are exposed to the effects of fiscal austerity and lower demand, but will slowly emerge onto a better growth path. Road haulage is more expensive than rail, even as fuel prices fall. This becomes more pronounced when transporting multiple containers: trucks can only carry one container per vehicle, while trains have a much larger capacity.
We expect rail freight growth to initially remain slow, as MÁV works through its restructuring now that its cargo unit has been taken over by Rail Cargo Austria (RCA). As a result of all these and other small changes, we now expect total freight carried across all modes, measured in million tonnes-km (mntkm), to grow by an annual average of 2.9% across the 2010-2014 forecast period. However, MÁV is modernising its fleet. Improving speed and efficiency is crucial for the rail sector, to compete with road haulage. Presently, road is considered the quickest of the two transport systems, but rail networks are becoming faster, increasing their attractiveness. Also, rail is more environmentally friendly, and therefore likely to receive greater government and EU support than the road sector. One huge disadvantage is powerful unions in Hungary’s rail sector. In 2008 the VDSzSz union held strikes in February, April, July and December, and there were further stoppages in 2009.
According to our latest estimates, transport and communications GDP contracted by 6.2% in 2009, 0.2pps slower than overall GDP, which we estimate to have slumped by 6.4%. For the 2010-2014 forecast period, we expect the transport and communications sector will outpace the economy as a whole, but by a narrow margin. It will achieve average annual growth of 2.5%, versus 2.4% for overall GDP. The total value of transport and communications GDP will rise to US$14.69bn in nominal terms by 2014, representing 8.7% of Hungary’s GDP. The transport and communications sector employed 298,700 people, or 7.7% of the labour force, in 2009. We see the people employed figure falling marginally to 295,700 by 2014, although it will remain constant in relative terms at 7.7% of the total labour force (Hungary’s labour force is dwindling slightly as the population ages).
As the central road-building policy continues to be implemented, albeit at a reduced pace, and vehicle ownership continues to spread, road freight will see growth. Hungarian EU membership has helped boost international road haulage. The economic contraction for the eurozone has been a particular problem for Hungarian exporters, as well as weighing on inwards FDI and bank lending. We expect average annual road haulage growth for 2010-2014 to reach 6.6%. Initially boosted by the surge in budget airlines, but now facing a downturn in the European air travel cycle, airfreight will recover with an average annual increase of 3.6%. Our forecast for pipeline throughput is now for 2.9% annual growth inland waterway, and rail freight carried will grow at the slowest average annual rates, 1.2% and 1.9% respectively.

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Hungary Freight Transport Report Q2 2010 (Business Monitor International)

A 109km gas pipeline linking Hungary and Romania was expected to be completed by February or March 2010, according to Romanian state-owned pipeline operator Transgaz. The pipeline runs from Arad in Romania to Szeged in Hungary and has an initial capacity of 1.7bn cubic metres/year (bcm/y), which will eventually be booted to 4.4 bcm/y. Meanwhile, Hungary’s gas transmission company FGSZ was said to have started a feasibility study on a gas pipeline link to Slovakia, to be built with Slovakia’s Eurstream. The Hungarian section of the pipeline would run to 94km between Vecsés and the border; the Slovakian section would be 20.3 or 21.5km long. This pipeline will have 5 bcm/y capacity and will be part-funded by the European Union with a EUR30mn (US$41.9mn) contribution.
As explained, we have become a little more pessimistic about Hungary’s macroeconomic prospects. We estimate real GDP contracted by 6.4% in 2009 (no change), and we are holding to our forecast for only 0.1% growth in 2010. Further ahead, we have trimmed our projections for 2013 and 2014. Average annual GDP growth in the five years to 2009 was only 0.7%, pulled down by the ‘2009 effect’. We project average GDP growth for the next five years, to 2014, to be a low 2.4%. The effect on our freighttraffic forecasts comparing the two five-year periods is therefore positive, albeit weakly so. We believe road haulage and rail freight are exposed to the effects of fiscal austerity and lower demand, but will slowly emerge onto a better growth path. Road haulage is more expensive than rail, even as fuel prices fall. This becomes more pronounced when transporting multiple containers: trucks can only carry one container per vehicle, while trains have a much larger capacity.
We expect rail freight growth to initially remain slow, as MÁV works through its restructuring now that its cargo unit has been taken over by Rail Cargo Austria (RCA). As a result of all these and other small changes, we now expect total freight carried across all modes, measured in million tonnes-km (mntkm), to grow by an annual average of 2.9% across the 2010-2014 forecast period. However, MÁV is modernising its fleet. Improving speed and efficiency is crucial for the rail sector, to compete with road haulage. Presently, road is considered the quickest of the two transport systems, but rail networks are becoming faster, increasing their attractiveness. Also, rail is more environmentally friendly, and therefore likely to receive greater government and EU support than the road sector. One huge disadvantage is powerful unions in Hungary’s rail sector. In 2008 the VDSzSz union held strikes in February, April, July and December, and there were further stoppages in 2009.
According to our latest estimates, transport and communications GDP contracted by 6.2% in 2009, 0.2pps slower than overall GDP, which we estimate to have slumped by 6.4%. For the 2010-2014 forecast period, we expect the transport and communications sector will outpace the economy as a whole, but by a narrow margin. It will achieve average annual growth of 2.5%, versus 2.4% for overall GDP. The total value of transport and communications GDP will rise to US$14.69bn in nominal terms by 2014, representing 8.7% of Hungary’s GDP. The transport and communications sector employed 298,700 people, or 7.7% of the labour force, in 2009. We see the people employed figure falling marginally to 295,700 by 2014, although it will remain constant in relative terms at 7.7% of the total labour force (Hungary’s labour force is dwindling slightly as the population ages).
As the central road-building policy continues to be implemented, albeit at a reduced pace, and vehicle ownership continues to spread, road freight will see growth. Hungarian EU membership has helped boost international road haulage. The economic contraction for the eurozone has been a particular problem for Hungarian exporters, as well as weighing on inwards FDI and bank lending. We expect average annual road haulage growth for 2010-2014 to reach 6.6%. Initially boosted by the surge in budget airlines, but now facing a downturn in the European air travel cycle, airfreight will recover with an average annual increase of 3.6%. Our forecast for pipeline throughput is now for 2.9% annual growth inland waterway, and rail freight carried will grow at the slowest average annual rates, 1.2% and 1.9% respectively.

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