CZ/SK verze

Marcin Horała Reveals: The CPK Project is Poland's Answer to the Need for Highest-Level Transport Infrastructure

Marcin Horała Reveals: The CPK Project is Poland's Answer to the Need for Highest-Level Transport Infrastructure
photo: RAILTARGET/Marcin Horała Reveals: The CPK Project is Poland's Answer to the Need for Highest-Level Transport Infrastructure
26 / 09 / 2023

Marcin Horała is a Polish politician, the government representative for the Polish CPK project, and the State Secretary of the Ministry of Funds and Regional Development. During the TRAKO trade fair in Poland, the RAILTARGET team had the privilege of interviewing Mr. Horała about the CPK project, its financing, and the currently debated high-speed rail lines.

Mr. Minister, we're here at the successful TRAKO fair in Gdańsk, where railway companies from across Europe have gathered. RAILTARGET, along with the Chamber of Commerce of the Czech Republic, is a proud partner of this event. The Polish CPK (Centralny Port Komunikacyjny, or Solidarity Transport Hub) project is set to integrate the airport with the high-speed rail system. Could you provide more details on the project and share your future plans?

The CPK is a comprehensive investment program planned for the upcoming two decades. It signifies Poland's need for top-tier transportation infrastructure. We lack a major intercontinental airport, which we intend to build between Warsaw and Łódź as the centerpiece of the CPK system. We also require a high-speed railway system, and thousands of kilometers of rail lines, as many major Polish cities lack such connectivity. While there are smaller road investments within the project, our current road infrastructure is quite satisfactory. Hence, our focus isn't as much on highways. Airports, high-speed railways, and missing rail corridors are independently earmarked to a corporation, which I am honored to lead.

With the Czech-Polish and Central European collaboration, we've succeeded in integrating the high-speed railway network into the European TEN-T network. Could this partnership also be pivotal in securing co-funding from European sources in the future?

Absolutely. For high-speed railways, we have two Czech-Polish cross-border initiatives. One, linking Katowice and Ostrava, is quite far along. A significant portion of the CPK projects aligns with the fundamental or supplementary TEN-T network. When we view the Central and Eastern European map, aiming to connect the Baltic nations with the Czech Republic, Romania, and other regions, it's evident that many essential connections converge at the CPK's core. By establishing this central system, we're also enhancing connectivity for all Central and Eastern European countries.

The Visegrad HSR network project aligns with the prospective HSR network in the Czech Republic. These connections also coincide with post-war reconstruction plans for Ukraine, set by the European Commission. Similar plans are underway with Rail Baltica. A comprehensive network will emerge, connecting Central and Eastern Europe for several hundred million inhabitants. This network will be appealing for investments, commerce, academia, and travel. Constructing these mutually beneficial connections necessitates collaboration, and the TEN-T network facilitates this endeavor.

Poland has this "Masterplan" that synergizes national interests with pan-European objectives. In the Czech Republic, the HSR network aims to connect various cardinal points. My question revolves around the financing aspect. Given Europe's economic recession, how do you plan to fund such an ambitious project? I'm also curious about your unique position overseeing both the CPK and the Ministry of Funds and Regional Development, especially since you're not part of the Ministry of Transport anymore. What advantages does this bring to the CPK?

The entire CPK management was shifted to the Ministry of Funds and Regional Development, which oversees various EU schemes and houses the institutions that manage these programs. Additionally, we collaborate with regional and local administrations under different regional operational agendas. The aim is to merge national programs with regional objectives.

So, the CPK is more than just a transportation initiative?

Exactly, it's beyond just transport. The financing stems from two primary sources. The airport, in essence, must be commercially funded. Even though public funds might be infused, a private investor assessment must be conducted. The Polish state will contribute capital to retain ownership, but the primary financing responsibility will rest with private investors, who will hold a minority share in the airport company. A portion will be sourced from credit instruments. The high-speed railways, being public infrastructure, will meld EU funds with Polish budgetary allocations. Another source will be state bonds, which will augment the CPK's capital and fund the HSR's construction.

Financing is intricate, given the colossal expenditures. However, from our initial planning phase for the CPK project, we've achieved one crucial milestone in Poland—boosting our defense resources. They currently hover around 4% of the GDP, nearing a 5% defense expenditure share. Thankfully, high-speed rail projects can be phased. We've envisioned the CPK as an interconnected network to ensure cohesion. The aim is to avoid last-minute scrambles for project funding when new EU financial frameworks are introduced.

Our intent is to establish complete sections of the HSR system in a modular fashion. I'm committed to securing maximum funding to expedite the build. We'll only consider phased construction if funds are insufficient. As of now, we don't foresee such a scenario.