CZ/SK verze

The Polish Chamber of Commerce Accelerates: Changes Ahead for Local High-Speed Lines

The Polish Chamber of Commerce Accelerates: Changes Ahead for Local High-Speed Lines
photo: RAILTARGET / Public domain/'The Transport System in Poland - High-Speed Railways' debate
30 / 04 / 2024

The Polish Chamber of Commerce is not slowing down! Instead, it is pushing hot topics through its conferences. Indeed, the magnificence of the planning of certain infrastructure projects, such as HSR, is becoming a hot topic.

The Polish Railway Chamber, which brings together passenger and freight carriers, as well as railway equipment manufacturers, suppliers, and also design and construction companies, held a meeting on the future of high-speed railways in Poland on 23 April 2024 at PKP's headquarters in Warsaw. The title of the debate was The Transport System in Poland - High-Speed Railways.

Source: RAILTARGET / Public Domain

It took place at a time of major personnel changes in the infrastructure of state-owned companies CPK and PKP PLK. It is also at a time when the new government is variously reviewing and auditing the upcoming HSR and new airport near Warsaw projects. Railway industry experts unanimously agreed that high-speed rail is needed in Poland and should be built without unnecessary delays.

The event was attended by Andrzej Bułczyński, a new member of PKP's Board of Directors in charge of infrastructure, Rafał Banaszkiewicz, PKP PLK's Board Commissioner for Investment Preparation, Zbigniew Szafrański, new Chairman of the Supervisory Board of CPK Centralny Port Komunikacyjny, Andrzej Massel, Director of the Railway Institute, Michal Beim from the Sobieski Institute of Economics, Jakub Majewski, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the ProKolej Foundation, Slawomir Cyza, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Alstom PL, Witold Gadoś, Sales Director, Siemens Mobility PL, Janusz Kucmin, Sales Director, Stadler, and Maciej Maciejewski, Member of the Board of Directors, PESA Bydgoszcz. The debate was moderated by Adam Musiał, Director General of the Polish Railway Chamber.

Source: RAILTARGET / Public Domain

There are 20,000 kilometers of railway lines in Poland, of which only 0.5% are high-speed lines (200 km/h). These are the Warsaw - Gdańsk and Centralna Magistrala Kolejowa lines from Warsaw towards Katowice. The participants agreed that the existing priorities - the basic HSR network from Warsaw to Poznań and Warsaw to Wrocław - are correctly established.

Z. Szafrański began by recalling the history of the HSR discussion in Poland, which dates back to the period of EU accession when the Berlin-Warsaw-Moscow link was discussed. In 2008, the government developed the first Polish HSR strategy, which was co-authored by PWC. In 2011, the then Minister of Infrastructure S. Nowak decided to stop all preparatory activities, which Szafrański said meant that the state had not secured territorial reserves for the planned lines. But time has not been lost, according to Szafrański, and now we are returning to the territory. However, Poland is wiser about its experience abroad and its modernizing corridors.

They want to make the sections operational at 250 km/h first but build so that operating speeds of up to 350 km/h can be achieved on parts of the network in the future. In terms of staffing, CPK and PKP PLK and several working groups on technical issues are working well. However, their cooperation needs to be strengthened. Poland wants to continuously gain new experience in the planning and construction of the Warsaw - Poznań and Warsaw - Wrocław HSRs and to approach the next projected sections accordingly.

In some places, modernization of existing sections will be sufficient, in others, new infrastructure is needed. A. Massel said that the Polish network is uniform, and the technical condition is improving, but in many places, poor parameters remain. Electrification has progressed significantly (60% of the network is already electrified), the problem is bottlenecks and monorails where modern infrastructure would be needed very quickly. Poland has poor connections to the Czech Republic regarding infrastructure parameters. In addition to a central HSR system, Massel said Poland's priorities must focus on connections to Ukraine. All upgrades of all kinds must increase the speed and thus increase the capacity of the network as a whole. Mr. Banaszkiewicz reported on the gradual resolution of problems in the cooperation between CPK and PKP PLK. He stressed that every major investment in the nodes is already being prepared as "HSR-ready", for example, Warsaw West Station. He considers the retrofitting of ETCS corridors as a problem for the future.

J. Majewski therefore expressed the wish not to tread water again. He likened the Polish debate to the beginning of the construction of motorways. At that time, no one believed that the entire backbone network, which today connects practically the whole of Poland, could be completed in such a short time. Similarly, today many regions are in favor of HSR and connecting their metropolises. Infrastructure is an expensive affair, but no one in the world expects their construction to be refinanced from ticket sales, with the Beijing-Shanghai line as an exception. Representatives of foreign and Polish rail vehicle manufacturers support HSR. Moreover, they want to actively participate in the debates on individual sections now, in their planning phase. They aim to be partners in setting the speed parameters and also the traffic model on the HSR, for which they want to have solutions ready in time to offer to the carriers.

The construction of the high-speed railway in Poland must be based on European experience, especially the experience of the Spanish railway, which was emphasized by A. Bułczyński, a member of the PKP Board of Directors. Poland must use the knowledge of the best in all respects and build a high-quality and economically viable railway.