Monday 31 May 2010
High Speed Rail

Poland plans to develop high speed rail network

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The idea of incorporating the rail network into that of Europe was introduced in Brussels by representatives of the Polish Ministry of Infrastructure and PKP (Polish State Railways) Group. On the same occasion the Polish side presented its plans to modernise its conventional railway lines.

The Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Infrastructure, Juliusz Engelhardt, came to Brussels on 1 June to hold talks with the representatives of the European Commission and Members of the European Parliament to present their plans on high speed rail construction in Poland. Polish Railways was represented by, among others, the President of PKP S.A. (Polish State Railways) Management Board, Andrzej Wach, as well as the President of PKP Polskie Linie Kolejowe S.A. (PKP PLK S.A. - Polish Railway Lines) Management Board, Zbigniew Szafrański. The key part of the visit was a high level debate organised at the European Parliament by PKP PLK S.A. and strongly backed by MEPs Bogdan Marcinkiewicz and Artur Zasada. Both Marcinkiewicz and Zasada are members of the EP TRAN Committee.

“Every year the Polish government increases its expenditure on upgrading railway infrastructure”, Under-Secretary of State, Juliusz Engelhardt, said. “However, after a 20-year standstill in the investment process it’s not only about the reconstruction of railway lines. We also need to form a market of reliable, competent contractors capable of carrying out serious projects”.

According to the President of PKP S.A., Andrzej Wach: “The planned high speed rail construction in Poland is in accordance with already existing transport routes. Already upgraded conventional lines are complementary with the designed high speed network. The importance of high speed lines and their accessibility for passengers will significantly surpass that of the four main centres located on the first scheduled high speed route from Warsaw to Wroclaw and Poznan via Lodz. Construction of high speed rail in Poland will significantly change public attitude towards railways as a means of transport and issues of time use. High speed lines mean modern technologies and bringing the largest Polish urban complexes closer together. It also represents the whole series of indirect investment undertakings that stem from this investment project”.

Poland’s current railway infrastructure requires a long-term consistent policy of maintaining high expenditure on its modernisation, President of PKP PLK S.A. Management Board, Zbigniew Szafrański, remarked. “It’s only 37% of railways lines, whose quality we can consider as proper. Moreover, it’s less than 20% of the lines’ overall length on which speeds of 120-160 hm/h are possible. The railway system in Poland requires not only an intense modernisation of existing infrastructure but also the construction of new connections”, President Szafrański added.

As the national Polish infrastructure manager, PKP PLK S.A. carries out investment projects within the scope of upgrading railway lines and with the use of EU funds: Operational Programme Infrastructure and Environment as well as Regional Operational Programmes. These programmes, and the expected funds that come under them, do not cover the essential needs that need to be fulfilled in order to increase the technical parameters of the whole railway network in Poland. Taking into consideration regional conditions, the process of modernisation of part of the lines can be more effective if carried out in the form of renewals. Such tasks are performed with the use of state budget funds.

The programmes developed by PKP PLK S.A. are coherent with existing high speed lines in Europe or those which are planned to be constructed. The emergence of high speed lines will increase capacity for conventional passenger and freight transport. Considering the increase in goods exchange between the EU and both the Eastern European and Asian countries, it is particularly crucial to gain additional capacity on the E20, East-West railway line. Furthermore, the upgrading of the E65 CMK railway line will facilitate transport on the North-South axis and as far south as neighbouring Czech Republic and Slovakia.

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Mr Zbigniew Zafranski at the diner-presentation of the Polish High Speed project, at the European Parliament in Brussels on 1 June
Mr Ignacio Barron, UIC Director for Passengers, delivering a speech to High level representatives from the European Parliament, rail companies, CER, EIM, and UNIFE