Polish National Railway Programme has been updated with a perspective until 2030, from its previous version which was in force until 2023. The decision was made by the Council of Ministers on August 16, 2023, and is a continuation of the rail projects to create a safe, fast and modern infrastructure across the country.
PLN 170 billion (EUR 38 billion) is the total value of the new strategy which includes PLN 79 billion (EUR 17.6 billion) for the ongoing projects started in 2014-2020, PLN 80 billion (EUR 17.8 billion) will be invested in the 2021-2027 perspective and PLN 11 billion (EUR 2.4 billion) will be used under the scope of the National Reconstruction Plan (KPO).
The 2023 rail investment strategy was adopted by the Council of Ministers in 2015 with an investment of PLN 67 billion (EUR 15 billion in current prices).
“The adoption of a new programme means a new boost for railway investments in the country. I am sure that thanks to this, rail transport in Poland will continue to develop dynamically, as it has been doing since 2015,” the Minister of Infrastructure Andrzej Adamczyk said.
As part of the Polish National Railway Programme until 2030, it is planned to maintain high and stable outlays for railway investments. Within the next seven years, Poland plans to electrify almost 1,400 km of railway lines which will allow the deployment of electric trains providing modern, comfortable and fast services.
The priorities of the 2021-2027 perspective include the completion of major investment projects, such as works on the cross-city line in Warsaw, construction of a tunnel in Łódź, and modernisation of the Gdynia – Słupsk route, the ongoing implementation of the modernisation of key lines on the TEN-T core network such as the Katowice – Zebrzydowice and Białystok – Ełk – Trakiszki which is the connection with Rail Baltica. In addition, the new strategy also includes the construction of new lines in the towns which do not have connections such as Podłęże – Tymbark railway line, the modernisation of the Skierniewice – Łuków or Bydgoszcz – Kościerzyna – Gdynia lines.
The aim of the 2030 rail programme is to create faster and reliable connections. For the first time in history, the Polish railway network will allow passenger trains to run at maximum speed of 250 km/h.The first sections to support such services are the Central Rail Line (CMK) which serves Warsaw, Krakow, Katowice, and Wroclaw and the Ełk – Suwałki – state border section, which is part of the international transport corridor E-75 Rail Baltica.
The projects to be carried out under the new strategy will also allow passenger trains to run at speeds between 120 and 200 km/h significantly cut the travel times. The focus is on the rail connection from Central Warsaw station to Ełk, to Kołobrzeg, in north-western Poland at the Baltic Sea, and on the route linking Radom, Kielce and Kraków central station, as well as on the Kraków – Nowy Sącz and Bialystok – Gdańsk central station routes.
The Polish National Railway Programme “secures financing for important, strategic railway projects. The government’s decision means that Polish railway routes will become even more modern, and passengers will receive an even more interesting and competitive transport offer,” the Deputy Minister of Infrastructure Andrzej Bittel said.
The new rail programme also includes projects to improve the railway junctions in southern Poland as when selecting the projects “we are not focused only on the large investments such as the construction of the Podłęże – Piekiełko line or the modernisation of the Warsaw cross-city line. It also means smaller investments, thanks to which the possibilities of rail traffic will increase,” the Minister of Infrastructure highlighted.
The projects include the construction of Jedlicze – Szebnie connection, built between the lines No. 106 (which connects Rzeszów with Jasło) and No. 108 (which ensures the connection between Stróże, Jasło, Krosno, Nowy Zagórz, Ustrzyki Dolne and Krościenko). This project is essential to create a direct connection on the route from Rzeszów to the south, towards Krosno and the Bieszczady region without changing trains at Jasło station. Currently, there is no operator that provides services on this route which is unprofitable, and passengers need more than 2 hours to travel between these cities. Following the implementation of the project, rail carriers will be able to launch services providing a direct connection on Rzeszów – Krosno – Nowy Zagórz route, and the travel time that will become attractive. In this way, rail will become an even more frequently chosen means of transport.
PKP Polskie Linie Kolejowe already has a construction project and obtained permit and an environmental decision for this project. The design and construction tender will be launched by the end of 2023 with works expected to begin in 2025 and completed in 2027.
The construction of Gorlice – Zagórzany line is another project that will have a great impact on rail transport. Currently, the railway line No. 110, which reaches the centre of Gorlice, a district town in the province ofLesser Poland, is not used by carriers.The inhabitants are therefore deprived of access to the railway network, except for the possibility of using the peripheral Gorlice Zagórzany station on line 108 (connecting Stróże with Jasło, Krosno and Bieszczady).Carriers do not offer services to the centre of Gorlice, because railway line No. 110 is routed in such a way that passengers can only go directly to Jasło, and it is not possible to go to Stróż, Tarnów and Kraków without changing train.
Thus, the construction of this section betas a connection between lines 108 and 110 will allow trains to run directly from the centre of Gorlice towards Stróż, Tarnów and Kraków without the need to change the head of the train at the Gorlice Zagórzany or other station.By adopting the National Railway Programme, the government provided financing for this investment.
As part of the same project, not only a slip road will be built, but also the Gorlice and Gorlice Zagórzany stations will be modernised while the existing line 110 running to the city centre will be revitalised. The design tender is planned to be launched this year and PKP PLK expects permits and decisions to be issued in 2026. The construction works are planned for 2027–2029.
The Warsaw cross-city line is one of the priority projects of the new Polish National Railway Programme consisting in the reconstruction and modernisation of 50 km of tracks, more than 30 engineering structures, including two bridges over the Vistula and two cross-city tunnels on long-distance and suburban lines, the modernisation of Warszawa Śródmieście and Warszawa Ochota stops, as well as the reconstruction of Warsaw Wschodnia and Warsaw Central stations. In addition, PKP PLK will build two new stops (Warsaw Solec and Warsaw Nowy Świat). In January 2023, the rail infrastructure manager has put into operation the first 7 km of this line.
“Warsaw has been waiting for the modernisation of the Diameter Line for many years and thanks to the government’s decision [to approve the new strategy] it becomes possible,” Andrzej Bittel said.
This project will increase transport capacity to 24 pairs of suburban trains and 20 pairs of long-distance trains during peak hours. The construction of the new stops will improve travel comfort as well as the creation of new transfer stations in the area of the Warszawa Śródmieście and Warsaw Wschodnia (Warsaw East station) stations with a link to the metro network.
The modernisation of the cross-city line will also consider the adaption to passengers with reduced mobility for which all stations will be equipped with new systems and amenities to provide increased access.
The Diameter Line was built from the 1920s to the 1960s and further operation on the existing infrastructure facing technical issues and an increased transport demand would increase the failure rate and negative changes in train traffic.
PKP Polskie Linie Kolejowe is carrying out works at Warsaw Zachodnia (Warsaw West station) which will be completed in 2024 when tender procedures will be launched for the modernisation of Warsaw Wschodnia station and some selected sections of the cross-city line. From mid-2025 to mid-2027, works will be carried out in the long-distance tunnel, and from mid-2027 to mid-2029 in the suburban tunnel.
Another important project part of the national rail strategy covers the construction of the Podłęże – Piekiełko line in southern Poland which has secured financing for implementation. This is one of the essential future connections in Lesser Poland (Małopolska province). The new 60 km Podłęże – Piekiełko line will ensure connection with Szczyrzyc and from here it is split into two branches, one to Tymbark (towards Nowy Sącz) and the other one to Mszana Dolna (towards Chabówka), creating a “Y” shaped link. The two branches, part of the Line 104 will be modernised and the entire project will allow trains to run at 160 km/h. This project will improve rail traffic between Krakow and Zakopane and Nowy Sącz.
Thanks to its implementation, Nowy Sącz region and in the Beskid Wyspowy region will benefit increased access to railway services. The first phase of this project covers the modernisation of Chabówka – Nowy Sącz connection for which a tedner will be announced in October.
The second phase covers the construction of a new line from Podłęże near Kraków to the south to Tymbark and Mszana Dolna. The construction of the railway line was divided into several phases.
Tender procedures will be launched for the modernisation of line 104 followed by tenders for the northward link. The tenders for the implementation of individual sections are planned to be announced by PKP Polskie Linie Kolejowe in 2024 and include Tymbark – Szczyrzyc (tender to be announced in January 2024), Limanowa – Tymbark (in March 2024), and in the third quarter two tenders will be launched for Szczyrzyc – Gdów and Gdów – Podłęże sections. The rail infrastructure manager signed the design contracts in January 2019.
The Podłęże – Piekiełko project will increase travel time and will have a great impact to shift road transport towards railways. Currently, rail transport from Krakow to the south is still not competitive with car transport.
The train travel time between Kraków and Zakopane in the fastest variant is almost 3 hours, and between Kraków and Nowy Sącz – over 2.5 hours and takes a roundabout route through Tarnów. The new project will provide direct train connection between these towns, significantly reducing travel times. When completed, the new line will reduce train journeys between Krakow and Nowy Sącz to only one hour and travel time from Kraków to Zakopane will be slightly more than 1.5 hours.
The new Podłęże – Piekiełko is a missing link on the TEN-T and when completed will also allow fast intermodal and combined freight transport services in a north–south direction on Baltic – Balkans – Black Sea axis creating the RFC 11 Amber corridor. The line will also increase freight transport capacity between Visegrad countries and will relief rail traffic on the Baltic – Adriatic RFC running through the highly urbanized area of Upper Silesia.