The construction of the broad-gauge line Ukraine – Košice – Bratislava – Vienna will permit freight trains to avoid the transfer of goods at the “junction” of the 1,435 mm and 1,520 mm gauges. The line will reduce freight transport time and costs, as well as the component which concerns the end price of the carried goods.
To develop this project, Russia, Ukraine, Slovakia and Austria signed a memorandum for the set up of a joint-venture in 2009. Russian Railways has been working with the railway administrations and transport departments of Slovakia, Austria and Ukraine since 2007 on a project to build a broad gauge 1520 mm line to Bratislava and Vienna and an international logistics terminal.
The new line and terminal have attracted interest from several European countries: Slovakia, Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia, Serbia and Croatia.
The location of natural resources and markets for finished products means that the strategic position of the 1520 mm gauge railway space offers huge potential for developing freight transport between western Europe and east Asia.
The rail transport corridor using the Trans-Siberian Railway is competitive relative to sea routes via the Suez Canal.
The rail line will provide a faster and simpler means of delivering European goods to the growing markets of Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and other countries using the 1520 mm gauge standard.
Implementing the project will also free up the working capital of cargo owners by halving freight delivery times from east Asia to western Europe relative to sea routes (from 28-30 days to 13-14 days).
Working capital freed up in this way will be worth up to USD 1000 per container (depending on the value of the transported cargo). Potential volumes of freight transport on the 1520 mm broad gauge line Košice – Bratislava – Vienna, million tonnes per year.
According to estimates, the volume of transport on the Košice – Bratislava line could reach 23.7 million tonnes by 2025 and 18.5 million tonnes on the Bratislava – Vienna line.
According to preliminary research on the region involved in the project, carried out by Slovak and Austrian specialists, the length of the new rail line could reach around 560 km, with some 500 km passing through Slovakia and the remaining 60 km traversing Austria.
In 2010, RZD signed with Austria, Slovakia and Ukraine, an agreement on the elaboration of an investment feasibility study for the construction of a 1,520 mm gauge line, Košice – Vienna.
In 2011-2013, a feasibility study, a complete business plan and design work will be conducted. Construction of the new line is scheduled for 2013-2015. Commercial train services will begin in 2016.
During RZD’s Second Railway Congree, held in Moscow in November 2011, Russian Railways President, Vladimir Yakunin, said the „preliminary feasibility study for this project is finalized and eight more months are necessary to implement the business plan and then another two for infrastructure works. Under the preliminary report, the total cost of works is estimated at EUR 4 Billion”.