Ukraine launched standard-gauge line construction

Chop – Uzhhorod railwayUkrzaliznytsia has started the construction of the 22 km Chop – Uzhhorod railway with standard gauge, one of the strategic projects to integrate country’s rail network with the EU.

The ceremony was attended by the Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal and the Chairman of Ukrzaliznytsia Yevhen Lyashchenko which laid the first sleeper of the new standard gauge rail track.

“We are opening the construction process of an important project – the creation of the first European gauge line from Chop to Uzhhorod. This project will not only increase the comfort of passenger traffic and redistribute the passenger flow but will also provide us with new logistical opportunities for freight transport and will relieve traffic checkpoints. Uzhhorod is becoming the first regional centre to be connected to Europe through a European gauge railway,” the Prime Minister said.

The project involves the construction of the 22 km standard gauge line, the reconstruction of artificial facilities and engineering networks including one pedestrian bridge, three small bridges and one big bridge and the installation of two-way lock-and-block system and microprocessor-based dispatch centralisation devices.

UAH 1.3 billion (EUR 32.7 million) is the total value of the project, of which 50% is co-financed by the European Union through the EU fund Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). “Ukrzaliznytsia got the opportunity to implement this project as a result of successful participation in the competitive selection of CEF projects in 2022,” the Chairman of Ukrzaliznytsia said.

The project documentation and the feasibility study were developed with state funds under the 2021 – 2022 budget.

The Chop – Uzhhorod railway project is expected to be completed in 14 months. The implementation of the project will make it possible to launch direct passenger routes on the standard gauge tracks from Uzhhorod to European countries, as well as transfer trains from all regions of Ukraine for further trips to European countries.

There are plans to electrify the new line for which Ukrzaliznytsia submitted an application to participate in the CEF calls for grant co-financing.

It is also planned to carry out a technical and economic study to build a new European gauge line between Uzhgorod and Lviv which will ensure Lviv to integrate into two European Transport corridors – the Rhine-Danube and the Mediterranean.

In July 2023, the European Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB) released a study which recommends that for the integration of Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova into the European rail system, standard gauge lines should be constructed. For Ukraine, the study suggests that standard gauge tracks are needed to create the connection from Kraków/Katowice in Poland, to Lviv, in Ukraine.

Chop is one of the most important rail junctions in Ukraine, where Lviv – Stryi – Chop – Cierna nad Tisou – Kosice – Bratislava rail line meets the Lviv – Uzhhorod – Kosice line. On the Ukrainian side there is the Chop train station, and on the Slovakian side there is the Cierna nad Tisou rail station (which is part of Rhine – Danube corridor). Between the stations Cierna nad Tisou and Chop there are tracks with both gauges 1435mm/1520mm. An important element for cross-border operation is the Cierna nad Tisou transshipment area and an intermodal terminal in Dobra, where the Ukrainian 1520mm gauge line meets the 1435mm gauge infrastructure. In total, there are 160 km of rail lines in a ten square km area of Cierna nad Tisou. Another important border crossing point is Uzhhorod in Ukraine and Mat’ovce on the Slovakian side. A single 1520mm gauge track is heading from the state border of SK/UA to Haniska, near Kosice, in Slovakia. This 88 km rail line is used for freight transport.

Chop also provide connection with Hungary through the Záhony (Hungary) – Chop dual gauge 1435/1520 mm border cording point. An important element for cross-border operation is the Záhony transhipment area, where the Ukrainian 1520mm-gauge line meets standard-gauge infrastructure. A new proposed rail connection will use dual gauge track running from the border between the two countries to Mukachevo station in Ukraine. Of the two dual-gauge lines across the border, the Záhony link is used only by standard-gauge passenger and freight trains. At Záhony the 1520mm gauge is currently not used. The Hungarian rail company MÁV manages a 150 km 1520 mm-gauge network, including a freight wagon bogie-changing facility. Passenger coach bogies are changed at Chop and since late 2018, a direct standard-gauge intercity service operates between Budapest and Mukachevo.

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