The future of high speed railways for countries of V4

The future of high speed railways for countries of V4
photo: Archives/High speed railway
01 / 04 / 2021

The high-speed system is already in operation and successfully developed in a number of countries. In general, its benefits are not only in the field of transport, but also in the demographic, economic, social and especially in regional development. At present, increasing the speed limit is also a topic in the V4 countries, in Poland, the possible speed is already at 200 km/h. There are major problems with infrastructure capacity on some major lines and in the V4 countries. In May 2019, the ministers of transport of the countries expressed interest in building a high-speed railway in the V4 countries as well. This intention was then supported at a joint meeting by the prime ministers of the V4 countries.

The basic concept is as follows: These should be newly built lines designed for a speed of at least 250 km/h and should connect the capitals or the most important economic centers. The project was presented in two scenarios. The first envisages a route from Budapest via Györ to Bratislava and then via Brno with a turnoff to Prague to Warsaw or Krakow. An alternative is the direct connection of Budapest via Košice with Krakow and further to Warsaw. The second route would then connect Budapest via Györ with Bratislava and Prague.

Negotiations of a joint working group immediately began to coordinate feasibility studies and refine tracing. As a first result there was the elimination of the Budapest - Košice - Krakow connection because of its economical unfeasibility. It would include, among other things, a long tunnel between Slovakia and Poland. Another controversial point is the connection of Bratislava. Slovakia originally proposed a connection via Štúrovo with the connection of the regional town of Banská Bystrica. However, Hungary wants to run the route through Györ, as it would also be a connection to Vienna, including Schwechat Airport, and the existing route to Györ is on the edge of capacity. This variant eventually won, but the crossing over the state border is awaiting clarification, given that the crossing of the Danube from Györ to Bratislava is difficult from an environmental point of view - there are strictly protected floodplains. An alternative is crossing Komárno, which nevertheless does not allow a connection via Györ to Bratislava. A satisfactory and mutually acceptable solution has not yet been found.

There is a new line planned from Bratislava to Brno, the crossing would be next to the D2 motorway. In Šakvice, the new line would be connected to the high-speed railway project Prague – Brno – Vienna. The worst section would thus be the Brno – Přerov one, where the Czech Ministry only pushed for modernization to 200 km/h. This would be the slowest section of the V4 HSR.

From Přerov to Ostrava, the plan is for the possible speed to be at 300 km/h. From Bohumín to Katowice, a feasibility study is already underway for a new line through Jastrzebie-Zdroj, which would connect the 100 000 agglomeration to a railway that it does not have now. It was originally connected, but it is an area with strong mining activity, of which the railway fell victim. Today we would only find a network of mining sidings there. There is already a high-speed line from Katowice to Warsaw, the CMK (Centralna Magistrala Kolejowa) line. Gradually, the speed is being increased there and approximately in 2030, the track will be used for a speed of 250 km/h.

The time schedule of the whole project is very premature so far, however Hungary is very interested in implementation. Slovakia is still waiting, and the Czech Republic is implementing a substantial part as part of the Fast Connections project with the assumption of implementation around 2030. In Poland, V4 HSR are also of high priority. Trains run at a speed of 200 km/h at CMK already, the target condition is primarily hindered by the promotion of ETCS from the operated level 1 to level 2. The implementation should take place by 2030.

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