Croatia not being in Schengen has been the partial cause for an absence of train services on three international routes: Bubnjarci – Metlika and Čakovec – Lendava (both to Slovenia), and Čakovec – Murakeresztúr (to Hungary), and for service to be very limited on two others: Zagreb – Dobova and Čakovec – Ormož (both to Slovenia). Croatia’s accession to Schengen in 2023, meaning trains will not have to be controlled at these borders, offers an opportunity for good regional rail services at all five border crossings, and the opportunity to extend Zagreb – Harmica services to the Slovenian side of the border at Dobova is especially interesting. Ljubljana – Budapest long distance services can also be routed via Čakovec, rather than the current longer route via Hodoš.
What needs to be done: approve SŽ’s fleet of new trains for operation in Croatia, and develop a new timetable for these cross border routes post-Schengen accession
European Commission Analysis
In 2018 the European Commission published its “Comprehensive analysis of the existing cross-border rail transport connections and missing links on the internal EU borders”. The main report (74 pages, PDF) summarises the issues, and Annex 3 of the report (384 pages, PDF) analysed every single border.
For the sake of simplicity, I have made a PDF just of the relevant pages of Annex 3 that cover the 5 relevant Croatia-Slovenia and Croatia-Hungary borders – you can find that PDF here.
Photos from these locations