The development of High Speed Railways has been put by the European Commission at the centre of EU transport policy. Tapping into this momentum EU countries of the Three Seas Initiative are developing their respective HSR networks. Projects such as CPK in Poland together with Rail Baltica and V4 HSR will bring a vital contribution to fulfilling EU TEN-T policy and Smart and Sustainable Mobility Strategy goals.
Reconstruction and modernization of railway lines, including the introduction of HSR system, is also an important part of Ukrainian plans for post-war recovery. These infrastructure mega-projects can together build a dense and interoperable HSR network in the 3Seas region.
The Centralny Port Komunikacyjny (CPK) programme as part of the revision of the TEN-T regulation
In December 2021, the European Commission published a draft of the new Trans-European Transport Network Regulation, which takes into account many of the Polish proposals for the revision of the network, including the CPK Programme. The most important changes from CPK’s point of view are related to the updated TEN-T network routes and the list of nodes. These include the airport infrastructure, i.e. CPK being included in the maps of the TEN-T core network, both as an airport and as a road-rail terminal, as well as the new railway infrastructure, the design and construction of which has been entrusted to CPK.
In the opinion of the European Commission, the key investments of CPK should constitute priorities in the EU investment policy and their implementation should become Poland’s contribution to the European transport system. At the beginning of October 2022, the Government Plenipotentiary for CPK, Marcin Horała, together with members of the management board of Centralny Port Komunikacyjny sp. z o.o., paid an official visit to Brussels to discuss the EU’s plans for the TEN-T transport network and its extension to Ukraine, as well as the construction of CPK.
‘Together with representatives of CPK, we discussed with EU institutions specific changes to the TEN-T network, taking into account not only the CPK project as such, but also its role as an element of increasing transport accessibility for Ukraine, which will be a tangible support for our neighbour not only right now, but especially in the coming decade, i.e. during the country’s post-war reconstruction. An equally important part of our delegation to Brussels was the presentation of the current stage of the CPK project. It should be borne in mind that European funds will form a significant and probably the main external source of financing for the railway component of CPK,’ said Marcin Horała, the Government Plenipotentiary for CPK.
Connection of the Polish and European HSR networks with Ukraine
The development of Poland-Ukraine HSR connection has been discussed for many years and was recently reflected in Ukraine’s Recovery Plan presented by Ukrainian authorities in Lugano on 4-5 July 2022, as well as in the EC proposal of 27 July 2022 on extending the European Transport Corridors (former TEN-T corridors) to Ukraine with a view to developing a rail network with European gauge (1435 mm).
To tap into this opportunity, CPK proposes to extend the planned railway line: Lublin – Trawniki – Zamość – Bełżec – PL/UA border to Lviv and to include the cross-border section from Lublin to Lviv in the TEN-T core extended network and Baltic Sea – Black Sea – Aegean Sea European Transport Corridor as proposed in EC amended proposal of 27 July.
The proposed new line connecting Warsaw and Lviv could continue longitudinally through Ukraine (east of the Carpathian Mountains) towards Eastern Romania (Constanța port), as proposed by the EC on 27 July 2022. In the future, the line could also be extended from Lviv in European gauge (1435 mm) to Kyiv as part of the new Ukrainian HSR system connecting the country to the EU Member States.
In CPK view such an extension would facilitate the development of High-Speed Rail line connecting the EU and Ukraine at the same time linking Romanian Black Sea ports with Polish and Baltic countries’ sea ports creating the shortest overland Black Sea – Baltic Sea connection, thus providing viable alternatives for Ukrainian export of goods, especially in the event of a blockade of the Black Sea, and facilitating military mobility in the region and on the NATO’s Eastern Flank.
‘CPK has a great deal of expertise and competence in the development of HSR lines, and is ready to play an important role in the reconstruction of Ukraine’s transport infrastructure after the war. We offer our Ukrainian partners expert support (e.g. traffic forecasting, feasibility studies, cost-benefit analysis, financial model) in the construction of cross-border rail links and the reconstruction and modernisation of the railway network in a way that ensures interoperability with the EU,’ says Mikołaj Wild, president of CPK.
Development of HSR network in the Three Seas region
The construction of the HSR network under the CPK programme is an important element in the development of railway connections in the Three Seas region. The railway lines designed and built by CPK will form Poland’s new transport backbone, and provide cross-border connections to the Baltic countries, for example, which are currently implementing the Rail Baltica high-speed rail project, and the Czech Republic through connections to Prague and Ostrava.
Combined with the planned HSR networks in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia, the CPK programme could create a dense network of high-speed rail links in the Three Seas region. The plans for the construction of HSR in the Three Seas countries coincide with the EU’s transport priorities, as the vast majority of the planned high-speed lines have been accepted by the EC as part of the TEN-T network, and European Transport Corridors as part of the ongoing revision of the regulation of the guidelines for the development of TEN-T.