Croatian Railways

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Hrvatske željeznice
IndustryRail Transport
ProductsRail Transport, Rail Construction, Services
ParentCroatian Government

Croatian Railways (Croatian: Hrvatske željeznice; abbreviated as ) is the national railway company of Croatia. Croatia is a member of the International Union of Railways (UIC). The UIC Country Code for Croatia is 78. The Croatian rail network carried 20.270 million passengers in 2018.[1][2]


Croatian Railways was founded in 1991 from the former JŽ ("Yugoslav Railways") Zagreb Division, following Croatia's secession from Yugoslavia. Its vehicle fleet was initially the one found at the time of the breakup of Yugoslavia. It has been modernized over time, and further modernization is currently being carried out. The first railway section on the territory of today's Republic of Croatia, then part of Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary, was built in 1860 in Međimurje: the railway line from Nagykanizsa in Hungary via Čakovec and Kotoriba continued to Pragerski in Slovenia. It is worth noting that this railway - although only a small part of it passed through Croatian territory (Međimurje was part of Croatia at the time the railway was built, but in January 1861, it was annexed to Hungary by the decision of Vienna) was built only 35 years after the first European railway, which was established in 1825 between the towns of Stockton and Darlington in England.[3] Railroads that connected Rijeka, the most important port in Croatia, with Trieste (and further with Vienna), and with Zagreb (and further with Budapest ) were put into service in 1873.[4]


Until 1 November 2012, Croatian Railways was one single company, when in accordance EU Directive 91/440.[5] requireing EU member states to separate "the management of railway operation and infrastructure from the provision of railway transport services, it was divided into three separate and independent companies:

  • HŽ Cargo d.o.o. (responsible for cargo transport)
  • HŽ Putnički prijevoz d.o.o. (responsible for passenger transport)
  • HŽ Infrastruktura d.o.o. (responsible for railway Infrastructure)

Railway network[edit]

See List of railway lines in Croatia

Types of passenger train lines[edit]

See Train categories in Europe - Croatia

Power systems[edit]

The original decision in former Yugoslavia was to use 3 kV DC electrification for the railway network. This was performed on the Rijeka–Zagreb line, which due to the mountainous Gorski kotar region had a need for more powerful trains than the traditional diesel powered ones.

Beginning with the modernisation of the Zagreb–Belgrade railway line an electrification system of 25 kV/50 Hz was used. Electrification on other lines in Croatia was then made exclusively 25 kV/50 Hz. Later, the majority of the ZagrebRijeka line was re-electrified to 25 kV/50 Hz, but until December 2012 there was still a part that under 3 kV DC. Consequentially a power system break existed at Moravice. was considering the purchase of dual-voltage locomotives, as an alternative to full re-electrification of 3 kV DC tracks, but the idea was scrapped for good as all electrified railways in Croatia are now using 25 kV/50 Hz.

All railway power systems in Croatia are exclusively of type overhead catenary.

Future developments and projects[edit]

The Croatian Rail network dates back to the mid 19th century, when the first train lines were built around Zagreb and Northern Croatia in 1857 though 1860. Of the current network of 2,617 km in operation[6] (some 300 km of rail track isn't operational due to low demand), only 20% allow for speeds over 100 km/h, of these only 5% of the network allows speeds in excess of 160 km/h. Some 1000 km of the rail network is electrified and only 275 km of the rail network is double tracked.[7] In 2007/8 Croatian railways transported over 46 million passengers.

Croatian government initiated long delayed railway modernization program and plans to invest €5,4 billion in to improving national railway infrastructure by 2030. Government prioritized main transport corridors and is seeking EU funding for these corridors. National Rail company has issued latest rail infrastructure plan [8] which sees plan of investment and priorities for period up to 2027, EU funding plays important role in modernization of Croatia's rail infrastructure and the company has detailed its rail infrastructure priorities over next 4 years which will be mostly funded through central government and the EU. Priorities will be given to main rail corridors, Zagreb - Vinkovci, specifically upgrade of the route, including construction of the 2nd track between Dugo Selo and Novska. A detailed survey and project documentation on route linking Zagreb with Novska and onward has been completed, work on 83km, €640 million link should start in late 2024 if no delays. Modernization of the entire line between Zagreb and Vinkovci, should be completed by 2027/8, trains should be able to attain speeds of 160 km/h on much of the track, with much higher speeds possible but limited due to ETCS level 1 signalization which will limit speeds to 160 km/h. To ensure such speeds local road traffic and pedestrian crossings will be separated by construction of underpasses and overpasses for pedestrians and road traffic removing any risk of collisions on any segment of the route. Installation of ETCS level 1 on the entire 290km length of the route is also planned, currently only section between Okucani and Novska feature ETSC signalization. [9]Okucani - Vinkovci route will also be modernized and upgraded, 131km, €550 million link will be reconstructed, ETSC level 1 signalization installed, 32 level crossings removed and new overpass and underpass built so the entire route is devolved from the local road traffic, reducing the risk of collisions.

Feasibility studies are underway on main route to Split, 430km route which is partially electrified, lacks any signalization, Route from Ogulin to Gospic, Gracac and onward to Knin, Drnis and Split will be upgraded with modern rail signalization, probably ETCS level 1, startign later this year with completion date sometimes in late 2026. [8]

Work on 55km €370 million Zagreb Karlovac route currently underway, line will be double-tracked and electrified for speeds up to 250kmph but limited to 160kkmph, installation of brand new signalization ETCS level 1 is planned on the route. Work on the route should be completed by end of 2027, funding has been secured through EU and Government funding. By mid 2026, work on entirely new route, Karlovac - Ostarje should commence, 39km €670 million high speed route is part of Nizinska pruga, a high speed route from port city of Rijeka to Zagreb. [10][8]

Work on a high speed 80km €550 million rail link which initially will be limited to maximum speed of 160 km/h is underway between Dugo Selo and Križevci, and the line between Koprivnica and the Hungarian border is also under construction, eventually this line will link Rijeka and Zagreb with Budapest, work on this line should be completed by end of 2027.[10][8]

Modernization of rail routes between Zagreb - Savski Marof is nearing completion, and the modernization of the 24km €82 million Zaprešić - Zabok 24 km link was completed the modernization included realigning of the entire route, laying completely new tracks and electrification of the entire route. Eventually, the Zagreb - Varaždin route with this section being part of the route, will undergo the same modernization allowing speeds of 120–140 km/h on the route. ~20km of new track will be built as part of the route, Lepoglavska spojnica[11] will cut journey to Varazdin via Lepoglava and Ivanec, construction of several tunnels are planned on the route, including 6.5km long tunnel, line will be electrified, but it'll remain single track according to current plans which might change. Planned modernization of Zabok - Lepoglava - Varazdin link including construction of 6.5km tunnel is set to cost around €675 million, funding is expected to come from the EU and Croatian Government. [10][12][11]

As of late 2023, some ~17.5% of the entire Croatian rail network allows for speeds of over 100 km/h, nearly 50% of the network allows for a maximum speed of 80 km/h, with the remaining ~12.5% of the rail network allowing for speeds between 80 km/h and 100 km/h. After the modernization of some main rail corridors and a few key regional corridors, speeds on the entire network should increase with half of network or some 1500 km allowing for speeds of over 100 km/h and the remaining 1200 km for speeds between minimum of 70 km/h and up to 100 km/h, eliminating slow routes entirely. However, the modernization of the entire network is an ongoing process dependent on government and EU funding, however the most optimistic time frame for a complete modernization of the Croatian rail network could run in to several decades.[13] [10]

High-speed rail line[edit]

A fully electrified line connects Rijeka with Zagreb, onwards towards Koprivnica and the Hungarian border; the railway line forms part of the European 5b corridor. A transportation bill to be passed by the Croatian Parliament will see the start of construction of Croatia's first high-speed rail line along this pan-European corridor, enabling theoretical speeds of between 200 and 250 km/h with an average journey speed of no less than 160 km/h. The plan consists of retrofitting the existing track between the Hungarian border and Karlovac to a double-track configuration, as well as constructing new tracks along an entirely new alignment from Karlovac to Rijeka. The line's complete length will be 269 km, or 61 km shorter than the current line. Construction on the new line was announced to start in the autumn of 2008[14] and was to be completed before the end of 2013.[15] The onset of the economic downturn of the late 2000s has put this project on indefinite hold.

The speeds of this line will enable a trip from Rijeka to Zagreb in an hour, as opposed to the current four hours. The initial route plan is described on this link: Initial proposed solution Archived 2007-08-23 at the Wayback Machine. The line is conceived primarily to better connect the Port of Rijeka to the network of European transport, as the port serves many regions and locales across Central Europe.

Rolling stock[edit]

See Rolling stock of the Croatian Railways

Croatian speed record[edit]

The maximum permitted speed of trains on the tracks in Croatia is 160 km/h. As far as the infrastructure is concerned, the specified speed can currently be achieved on part of the international corridor Novska - Tovarnik, more precisely on the relatively short sections Novska-Okučani and Vinkovci-Tovarnik.The current rail speed record in Croatia is 185 km/h. The record was set on the line between Novska and Nova Gradiška. The run was performed in order to demonstrate the possibilities offered by the Rade Končar built JŽ 442 electric locomotive class (now HŽ1142 train class).

Technical information[edit]

  • Maximum operating speed: 160 km/h
  • Train protection system used (where applicable): INDUSI (a stripped down derivative of German system)
  • Signaling system: at sight only, automatic block protection (on mainlines and where applicable)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ HŽ Putnički prijevoz d.o.o. (2020). "STATISTIKA ZA 2019" (PDF) (in Croatian). Zagreb.
  2. ^ "Railway Statistics – 2017 Synopsis" (PDF). International Union of Railways, IUC. 2017. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  3. ^ "Stotinu i pedeset godina željeznice u Hrvatskoj", stranice "Savez za željeznicu" (udruga čiji su osnivači sindikati i poduzeća iz željezničkog sektora), posjećeno 8. veljače 2015. god.
  4. ^ "OBILJEŽENA 140. OBLJETNICA PRUGE KARLOVAC - RIJEKA" Archived 2016-05-13 at the Wayback Machine, Službene stranice Grada Rijeke, 23. listopada 2013.
  5. ^ "Rail Transport and Interoperability (overview of directive 91/440)". European Union. Archived from the original on 18 June 2007. Retrieved 6 July 2007.
  6. ^[bare URL PDF]
  7. ^ HŽ Infrastruktura d.o.o. (2019). "PLAN POSLOVANJA 2020" (PDF) (in Croatian).
  8. ^ a b c d[bare URL PDF]
  9. ^ "EU FONDOVI KARTA" (PDF) (in Croatian).
  10. ^ a b c d[bare URL PDF]
  11. ^ a b "Povezivanje željeznicom unutar funkcionalne regije Središnje Hrvatske – Lepoglavska spojnica | HŽ Infrastruktura".
  12. ^ "'Lepoglavska spojnica vrijedna 4,4 milijardi kuna je megalomanski projekt i ne rješava blokadu'".
  13. ^ "OpenRailwayMap".
  14. ^ "Kalmeta talks about infrastructural projects in current 4-year plan".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)[dead link]
  15. ^ "New projects in Croatian Infrastructure" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-05-03.

External links[edit]