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Changes Around High-Speed Rail and Airport in Poland: New Routes and Cheaper Construction

Changes Around High-Speed Rail and Airport in Poland: New Routes and Cheaper Construction
photo: Alstom / Public domain/Alstom Avelia
01 / 07 / 2024

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk announced significant changes in the plans for the construction of high-speed railways and a new airport in Poland after a six-month audit and intense public discussion. The project, previously advocated by the Law and Justice (PiS) government, will focus on connecting all major cities and regions. The new routes will not include the construction of new infrastructure around the planned central airport.

The Prime Minister announced a half-year audit of Poland's major transportation megaproject, which included high-speed railways and a new airport, accompanied by intense public discussion, as previously reported by our editorial office.

RAILTARGET participated in discussions at the European Economic Congress in Katowice, the Polish Railway Chamber conference, the partner media Raport Kolejowy conference, and a conference in Poznań on June 5th, where they could map the current situation regarding the issue.

What Will Change?

The high-speed rail network will change. It will connect all Polish metropolises and regions. There will be no construction of entirely new infrastructure centered around the new airport, which, according to the Prime Minister, was the most controversial part of the project. The previous Law and Justice (PiS) government had pushed to ensure train accessibility to the CPK airport within 2.5 hours (150 minutes) from the largest Polish cities, creating an alternative to domestic air connections.

However, sources indicate that the current Tusk government emphasizes the necessity for railways to connect cities with each other. The journey from Warsaw to Katowice, Gdańsk, Wrocław, or Poznań should take a maximum of 100 minutes. It is planned to invest EUR 30.5 billion (PLN 131 billion) by 2032, with EUR 9.9 billion (PLN 42.7 billion) allocated for the new airport. The railway part will represent 80% of the total costs. The cost per kilometer of new tracks is expected to be lower than planned by the previous government. The most important part of the project remains the "ypsilon" shape connection from Warsaw through Łódź to Wrocław and from Warsaw to Poznań. A new feature is the increased operating speed to 300-320 km/h.

Source:CPK / Public domain

The government also plans to source rolling stock and technological solutions for high-speed rail from abroad, but Polish companies must be given a chance at construction contracts. The local industry must be involved in the project to facilitate knowledge transfer. Shortly, a tender will be announced for the construction of a high-speed railway tunnel in Łódź. Additionally, the tender documentation for the construction of further sections from Warsaw to Wrocław is being completed.

Airport Modifications

The airport will change in size, and its construction will be postponed. It will start with a capacity of 34 million passengers annually, with the possibility for further expansion left open in planning and design. Construction will be completed in 2031, with the first flights taking off in 2032 after all approvals, permits, inspections, and certifications—the original plan by the now-opposition Law and Justice party aimed for 2028. The government wants to improve the connection to central Warsaw and achieve a travel time of 15 minutes on the new railway. The development of regional airports is also planned, with infrastructure growth being carried out with consideration for the desired development of the national airline, LOT.

The existing F. Chopin Airport will remain and serve, for example, personal air taxis and drones. The government will also expand it to accommodate an additional 10 million passengers annually until the new airport opens. A private investor, the Vinci Airports and IFM Global Infrastructure Fund consortium, selected by the previous government, is still in play. However, the contract has not yet been signed as it is being analyzed by the prosecutor due to suspicions of "significant and dangerous concessions to investors."

From July 1st, the state investor company CPK S.A. returns under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Transport.