Route of the high-speed line set in October

Interview with Zbigniew Szafrański – Chairman of the Board of PKP PLK

In his interview for our magazine, Zbigniew Szafranski, Chairman of the Board of PKP PLK, the rail infrastructure manager in Poland, explains the importance of the high-speed network, both nationally and at European level, a network developed through programmes that target the promotion of using eco-friendly transport for freight and passenger transport.
Mr. Zbigniew Szafranski also talks about the role of terminals in increasing the attractiveness of transport and about the projects promoted by Poland for ensuring connections between the countries of the Baltic Sea region and Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea.

Railway Pro: In 2008, Poland’s Government adopted a document for developing a railway high-speed system. What is the development strategy of this network? What investments are necessary for the implementation of this ambitious plan and which are the financing sources? Can we talk about such a network for 2020?

Zbigniew Szafrański:
The main goal of the governmental “Programme of construction and launching the traffic by high speed railways in Poland” of 2008 is in the creation of a high speed railways system connected with the European railway network.
The programme assumes, above all, the construction of a new railway high speed line connecting Warsaw, Lodz, Poznan and Wroclaw (so-called line „Y”’). The modernisation of conventional lines is also planned to enable the connection of “Y” line with the main agglomerations in Poland. Thanks to this proceeding the “Y” line will become the “backbone” of the in-between agglomerations passenger traffic in Poland.
In the international context the extension of the “Y” line is planned from Poznan to Berlin and from Wroclaw to Prague.
Currently the company Ingenieria IDOM Internacional S.A. prepares “Feasibility Study for the construction of high speed line Warsaw – Lodz – Wroclaw/Poznan” basing on the order of PKP PLK S.A. Conclusions and recommendations of this document will enable among others to choose the optimal railway line route, make the Environmental Approval, define the financing possibilities and the legal-organizational formula of the line construction.
After getting into the conclusions from the Feasibility Study we will be able to prepare the tenders regarding, among others, the geodesic documentation and motions for the localisation decision, the Programme and Spatial Concept, the Functional-Utility Programme, the business plan of HSL construction, and the support of the property acquiring procedure.
Separate Feasibility Studies will be done for adjusting railway junction stations (in Poznan, Lodz and Wroclaw) to the high speed railways servicing and for enabling their intermodality with other means of transport.
After the finalisation of all study works, a construction of the HLS Warszawa – Lodz – Wroclaw/ Poznan will be put out to a tender. Due to the approved schedule, the construction works of the “Y” line shall begin according to the plan in 2014, and the beginning of traffic in 2020.
As far as the modernisation and adjustment of the conventional lines to the HSL parameters is concerned, the “Feasibility Study for the modernisation of railway line E 65 – South part Grodzisk Mazowiecki – Zawiercie” is being developed. It is predicted that this part in the first phase of modernisation will be adjusted to the speed of 220 km/h.
Concerning the financing sources of the investment, we have created a Team of specialists of PKP PLK S.A., whose tasks are the analysis of possibilities and the preparation of the eventual proposals of the financing system. The Team will benefit from the experts support of the external consulting companies dealing with issues regarding financial engineering in railway projects- especially taking into account the public- private partnership (PPP).

Railway Pro:
What can you tell us about the Warsaw-Lodz-Poznan/Wroclaw high-speed line project?

Zbigniew Szafrański: The first Polish HSL will connect Warsaw through Lodz with Wroclaw and Poznan. The exact railway line route, together with the specification of the place, where the line will branch out into sections to Wroclaw and Poznan will be defined in the feasibility study currently being elaborated. The new HSL will be approximately 450 km long.
The “Y” line will have a standard gauge, double track, with the mainly right direction of traffic and the maximum speed up to 350 km/h. It will be electrified with the alternating current with voltage of 2x25kV.
The important element of the new HSL will be a new underground railway station Lodz Fabryczna, the design and construction of which shall start this year.
The ultimate route of the “Y” line will be presented by the feasibility study executor in October 2011. After the approval of the Council of Ministers it will become the subject of further detailed analyses as well as pre-project works.

Railway Pro: All European countries are preparing for the next financial period for the financing and launch of the rail transport projects for 2014-2020. What are the financing priorities that Poland and the EU will jointly approach?

Zbigniew Szafrański: The choice of projects to be implemented in 2014-2020 depends on EU Cohesion and Transport Policy. It needs to be highlighted that Cohesion Fund and European Regional Development Fund are for the time being – together with the state budget – the most important financing sources of the projects implemented by PKP PLK S.A.
We believe that the most important issue about transport project planning for the next financial perspective should be the aims specified in the new transport White Paper issued by EC in 2011, which are to be implemented by 2030 and 2050. One of its priorities is development of environmentally friendly means of transport, which includes also moving passenger flows from road transport into rail. Therefore investments in the upcoming financing perspective should focus on projects, which enable achieving the White Paper aims, including investments in HSR on railway lines on which passenger stream growth is observed.
Another key issue which must be taken into account during investment projects implementation co-financed with EU funds is the necessity of ERTMS implementation. This should follow technical and legal reasons (TSI) published in European Parliament and the EU Council Directives.
Considering the next financing perspective, the ongoing revision of the Transeuropean Transport Network, impose both geographical and organizational changes in TEN-T net. Departing the idea of priorities projects and replacing it with two-level net with privileged base network. This revision should also result in removal of significant differences in network density, which currently exist between so called “old 15 EU” and the new Member States which joined EU in 2004. In case of Polish rail infrastructure this means further modernisation of major railway lines of the international importance, which have failed to be upgraded in the current financial perspective as well as lines specialisation for either passenger or freight operations.
Currently implemented in the frames of Regional Operational Programmes works also need to be mentioned, as they enable us upgrading lines of the regional importance. We hope to extend this cooperation in the upcoming financial perspective in order to achieve cohesive rail network also for regional operations.

Railway Pro: What can you tell us about the stage of the Rail Baltica line project? What is the financing source of the project considering the fact that Poland has not applied for the 2007-2013 TEN-T financing, because an appropriate financing would be available though the Cohesion Fund, starting with 2013?

Zbigniew Szafrański: Railway lines modernization in frames of the Rail Baltica Project is planned to be finished with EU funds, using the Infrastructure and Environment Operation Programme.
Two projects involved with the railway line E75 Rail Baltica are enlisted on the basic list of individual projects for the Infrastructure and Environment Operation Programme 2007 – 2013. They involve the 1st stage of the Warszawa – Bialystok – Lithuanian border railway line modernisation, planned for 2011 – 2014 as well as preliminary works regarding the modernisation for 2014 – 2020.
Documentation considering the project preparation has been developed also due to the Cohesion Fund 2002 – 2006. This contains functional – usage programme for the railway line section Warszawa – Zielonka – Tłuszcz (Sadowne) together with the environmental decision.
For the above mentioned section, performing Feasibility Study Results has been contracted. In January 2012 Project financing is planned to be applied to CUPT (Centre for EU Transport Projects), whereas soon a tender on constructional works project and implementation is going to be announced.

Railway Pro: What do you think about the development of rail and maritime connections with the Caucasus and Central Europe and what role does Poland play in developing this connection?

Zbigniew Szafrański: The perspective of a rail connection between Europe and Asia is a particularly interesting issue which could be involved into the strategy of modern systems of freight operations, accustomed to the load specification and assuring operations efficiency together with diminishing negative impact on the environment. Rail – one of the most environmental friendly means of transport can compete in this relation with maritime transport, mostly in case of transport duration.
Transit role of Poland in Europe – Asia operations system is derived mainly from its localisation on the East – West axis. Operations increase on the Eastern border is one of the PKP PLK S.A. priorities. One of the international freight corridors co-created by PKP PLK S.A. with accordance to the 913/2010 EP and EU Council Regulation on 22 Sept 2010 in terms of European railway network directed on competitive freight transport ends on the Polish-Belarusian border (Central East-West Corridor), which is an external EU border. It is an important step into wider rail integration with countries eastward of the EU border, in the direction of Asia.
Transit via Poland can also lean on possibly widest use of LHS (Broad-gauge Ironworks Line), development of transshipment terminals in points where 1435/1520 gauge railway lines meet, facilitation of border procedures, dissemination of vehicle and shipping unit monitoring technology on the whole way, promotion of wider use of rolling stock with adjustable wheel-sets in Europe-Asia operations, which enables transport with no transshipment on border but with telematic applications.

Railway Pro: What can you tell us about the role of terminals in increasing the attractiveness of rail transport in Poland and for Poland, through international transport?

Zbigniew Szafrański: I think that the railway transport should be considered in the context of the whole logistic chain. The role of infrastructure manager in the functioning of the transport- shipping- logistics market for a long time now is not limited to maintain the good standard of railway network, but goes far beyond the maintenance of the right functional parameters of the network. The infrastructure managers are the important link of the more and more coherent transport systems.
As far as this question is concerned, we believe strongly in the implementation of the mentioned above Regulation of European Parliament and Council (EU) 913/2010 of 22 September 2010. The regulation defines 9 of the first international corridors, two of which passing through Polish territory: Gdynia-Katowice-Ostrava/Zilina-Bratislava/Vienna/Klagenfurt-Udine-Venice/Trieste/Bologna/Ravenna/ Graz-Maribor-Ljubljana-Koper/Triest (Baltic-Adriatic corridor) and Bremerhaven/Rotterdam/Antwerpen-Aachen /Berlin- Warsaw-Terespol (Polish-Belorussian border)/Kowno (Central East-West corridor).
In the frame of functioning of the mentioned above international corridors, the cooperation between the railway infrastructure managers and the terminal managers is foreseen both in the corridor management structures and as far as the coordination of allocation of capacity of the railway lines and terminals is concerned.
Furthermore, one of the most promising segments of railway cargo transport is the intermodal traffic. The condition of development of this kind of traffic is the development of the network of transshipment nodes- intermodal terminals and logistic centres.
Currently in Poland there are 23 intermodal terminals being exploited. There are situated mainly by sea ports and big industry centres, and also in the border zone. The target number of intermodal terminals in Poland can be estimated for more or less 30. According to the premises of Master Plan for the railway transport in Poland till 2030, the number should be obtained till 2020. Till 2013 there should be 25 terminals being exploited. The planned locations of the new terminals are mainly the sea ports, railway nodes located by big agglomerations and other places near big enterprises, especially which produce highly produced products.

Railway Pro: Considering the fact that the EU is stressing the North-West relationships for balancing transport networks, what are the projects promoted by Poland for ensuring connections to the Mediterranean and the Black Sea?

Zbigniew Szafrański: PKP PLK S.A. is engaged in several projects aiming to improve the connections between the countries of the Baltic Sea region and Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea. One of these projects is the mentioned above Baltic-Adriatic freight corridor.
PKP PLK S.A. is one of the entities that realize the priority project of TEN-T network, number 23, which is the railway axis Gdynia- Vienna, the basis for the connection on the North- South axis.
Through the Polish territory also pass the pan-European corridors III and VI, which ensure the connections respectively with the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, by the V corridor.

Railway Pro: Railway infrastructure financing is a mutually acknowledged problem in the EU. What is Poland’s solution to this problem and how do local authorities (municipality, regions) get involved in financing the rail infrastructure?

Zbigniew Szafrański: For the financing sources of PKP PLK S.A., apart from the incomes from operators for an access to the railway infrastructure, we can be also name the budget grants and also means coming from the Railway Fund. In relation with this, starting from the price list for the time of functioning of the railway timetable 2005/2006, at the calculation of unit rates, the planned costs of making access for the infrastructure are being diminished according to the expected grant for renovation and maintenance of railway infrastructure coming from the mentioned above sources.
The part of planned grants in costs taken into consideration at the calculation of unit rates is increasing systematically. In 2006 this part was equal to 12%, and in comparison the part planned for 2012 is equal to 33%.
At the moment we prepare for the negotiation and signature of a long- term contract with the Ministry of Infrastructure for the maintenance of the railway network. Instead of the grants we would obtain payment for the service of maintenance of infrastructure in the defined state.
Moreover, as I have already mentioned earlier, the railway investments are also co-financed from the means of European Union: Cohesion Fund, European Regional Development Fund, TEN-T network Fund. At the moment we implement 31 projects within so-called Regional Operational Programs. These are the means of EU at the disposal of marshals of voivodeships, using which we will modernize 800 km of lines of regional importance. In several cases the local authorities have taken the property of sections of railway lines and cover their maintenance costs as well as costs of traffic management. We expect though that in the years 2012-2013 we will stop the process of railway infrastructure degradation.

[ by Pamela Luică ]
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