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Polish and Ukrainian Transport Professionals Face Infrastructure and Rolling Stock Challenges

Polish and Ukrainian Transport Professionals Face Infrastructure and Rolling Stock Challenges
photo: Archive/Polish and Ukrainian Transport Professionals Face Infrastructure and Rolling Stock Challenges
14 / 03 / 2023

Transport professionals from Poland and Ukraine are facing challenges due to differences in infrastructure and rolling stock. In a report published last year, the Transport Consultants Group (TOR), a Polish consultancy firm, analysed the current status, potential, and challenges of Polish-Ukrainian railway relations.

Tadeusz Syryjczyk, a partner at TOR, said that "We have to come to terms with the diversity of infrastructure and rolling stock between Poland and Ukraine and seek ways of neutralising the obstacle it creates". The report also highlighted the territorial limitations of operators, customs procedures, and power systems as other hurdles that currently exist.

One of the main issues identified in the report is the differences in track gauge. The railways in Poland are mostly 1435 mm wide, while the tracks of the former USSR countries are 1520 mm wide. This difference has limitations for the rolling stock that can run on either side of the network. There is also a large variety of rolling stock, which means there is a large variety of couplings. Not all couplings work on either side of the border. Additionally, there is a difference in power supply systems for electric traction. "In Poland, there is a 3 kV DC (3,000 volts direct current), although it is expected that the newly built high-speed lines will be of 25 kV AC standard. In Ukraine, both 25 kV AC 50 Hz (25,000 volts alternating current) are standard, although there are also 3 kV DC lines and there are network contacts of different voltages within the country, e.g. in Lviv. In Przemyśl we change the track gauge and in Lviv the traction system and only then do we have a free route to Kyiv or Odesa", Syryjczyk explains.

The report suggests that the launch of a European branch of Ukrainian Railways could help to ease the hurdles. In the long run, the integration of Ukraine into the European Union should overcome the structural limit through the possibility of railway entrepreneurs operating in the EU and Ukraine. However, Syryjczyk warns that rolling stock is very diverse and does not change overnight, so the loss of time at the border is inevitable. Investing in new rolling stock should be done considering all these barriers. In addition to bureaucratic and technical obstacles, the report also highlights the importance of addressing cultural and language differences, as well as developing mutual trust between Polish and Ukrainian railway professionals.


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