“Warsaw authorities plan to develop the underground network”

Mr Jerzy Lejk 2Interview with Jerzy Lejk, General Director of Warsaw Metro

Warsaw already has a relatively well developed transport network, the most important route being in the centre of the city which benefits from a rich system of connections to tram lines (three routes on the east-west axis and four on the north-south axis), an underground line and railway lines. Nevertheless, the main reason for concern is the system quality and consequently it strongly competes with individual transport. According to the strategy, “the estimates indicate that the optimisation of the public transport system attractiveness will lead to the increase of its efficiency”. Therefore, 8 pillars have been established, the priorities being maintained for the development and modernisation of the tram and underground network and the optimisation of the railway transport efficiency.

For the tram network, the programmes are elaborated according to the global requirements which will lead to the improvement of this mode of transport. The goal of the authorities is to create a new image of the tram transport, as a comfortable, modern, efficient one and able to compete with the motorised individual transport. The project involves the modernisation of four main corridors, the secondary ones coming afterwards, and the network extension will be approached according to the mobility needs which result from the evolution of the spatial development at the level of the entire city. In addition, the implementation of the development programme should take place simultaneously with the modernisation of lines and works should be initiated after 2015.
The metro transport system, has one line and since the commissioning of four stations (in 2008) the length of the line is 22.7 km (21 stations). The development strategy includes network development projects consisting in the construction plan of lines 2 and 3. The central section of line 2 (from Daszyńskiego Roundabout to the Warszawa Wileńska station) will be developed due to the increasing potential of passengers and subsequently the line will be extended to Targówek şi Bródno, also including the construction of another section to Stadion Station and then Gocław. Thus, the system will practically have two lines (line 2A- Stadion – Bródno and line 2B- Stadion – Gocław) and, in addition, the central section will be extended to the western part. The authorities also foresee the construction of the third line, Stadion Station – Saska Kępa – Konstytucji Square –Warszawa Zachodnia railway station.
The requisites for the execution of the network extension works consist in limiting the project costs due to modern technologies and to funds for the execution of line 2 and, possibly, of line 3, granted by the state and by European funds. For this purpose, the European Investment Bank announced (in April) that it will allocate a loan amounting to PLN 1 Billion (approximately EUR 238 Million) for the construction of the central section of the new metro line. The section will have 6.7 km and seven stations. The loan will also be used for the construction of a 400m tunnel for connection with existing lines and for the extension of Kabaty depot. The project also includes the installation of traffic control, communications and ticketing systems. The completion period is 2014-2015. The support awarded to the underground in the capital will determine the quality optimisation of public transport services in terms of speed, comfort and reliability, and the reduction of the travel time will be substantial due to the speed difference between the underground system and the surface modes of transport. Moreover, according to the EIB estimates, the modal transfer will determine the reduction of CO2 emissions by approximately 42.000 tonne/year.
For further information on the need of developing the metro system in Warsaw, the approach of authorities on mobility demands, the solutions for increasing the public transport attractiveness, Mr. Jerzy Lejk, General Director of Warsaw Metro has given us an interview.

RailwayPRO: How many Warsaw citizens use underground transport and what are your expectations for attracting people to public transport after the development of the metro projects?
Jerzy Lejk: Currently, the Warsaw metro carries approximately 140 million passengers a year. It’s a fast, safe and ecological means of public transportation. It’s operated and maintained to the highest operating standards by the Metro Warszawskie company. That’s why the citizens of Warsaw are so gladly using the metro. We’ll be as committed to earning the trust of the passengers of the second line.

RailwayPRO: What are the main elements which determine the citizens to use metro transport instead of individual cars?
Jerzy Lejk: The first metro line in Warsaw is located on the left bank of the Vistula River and runs along a north-south axis. Travel time for the whole route of 23.1 km is approximately 38 minutes, i.e. much less than the time required to travel the same route using overground or private transport. The possibility of fast transportation across the city and the quality of the ser-vices provided influences the preference for the means of transportation.

RailwayPRO: What can you tell us about the stage of works for the development of the Warsaw Metro Line 2 and when do you estimate it will become operational?
Jerzy Lejk: The field of construction works of the central section of the second metro line consists of 7 stations, 6 ventilation rooms, 2 tunnels with a total length of 9 km and a technical connector with the first metro line. The final construction works are currently ongoing along with the start of the finishing works. The TBM shields have dug over 3 km of tunnels. The central section of the second metro line 2 is expected to open in the autumn of 2014.

RailwayPRO: What investments have been allocated so far for the development of the entire project and what financing will be necessary for the finalization of works?
Jerzy Lejk: Currently, we are implementing the construction of the central section of the second metro line. We are also conducting advanced works on designing and preparing the construction of the next three west-bound stations and three north-east stations. We have selected two architectural firms from the participants in the contest for a architectural and construction concept. Their job is the preparation of building designs.

RailwayPRO: Will Warsaw Metro implement projects that would also involve the private sector? What do you think about the role of PPPs in increasing the attractiveness of mass transportation?
Jerzy Lejk: Matters related to the public transport organisation system in Warsaw are the domain of the Public Transport Authority which acts as the contracting entity for transportation services. We entrusted outside companies with a consi-derable number of services concerning the maintenance of the infrastructure in the utilisation of the metro. We find such a form of cooperation effective from both the practical and economic points of view.

RailwayPRO: At the end of December 2012, the EIB announced the allocation of PLN 555 Million (some EUR 139 Million) for rolling stock acquisition. The money will be strictly granted for rolling stock or will it also be used for construction works?
Jerzy Lejk: The funds granted by the European Investment Bank will be used for modern rolling stock for the Warsaw metro. Siemens will deliver 35 six-car trains, which will be used on both the first and second metro lines. These trains are ecological, single-space and economic in utilisation. They will be fitted to suit the needs of disabled persons. The signed contract also provides the possibility to purchase another 50% of these trains.

RailwayPRO: What can you tell us about the long-term development strategy of Warsaw Metro?
Jerzy Lejk: The development strategy is drawn up by the City Council of the Capital City of Warsaw. In 2009 it adopted the “Strategy for the balanced development of transport in Warsaw till 2015 and for future years,” which also includes the strategy for the development of the Warsaw metro. City authorities’ intention is the reliable operation and development of the metro. That’s why it signed an agreement for the provision of transport services with Metro Warszawskie Sp z o. o., which is valid till 2027.

RailwayPRO: How do authorities answer the urban mobility needs from the point of view of grants for eco-friendly projects and the implementation of policies on promoting the use of an efficient and clean transport?
Jerzy Lejk: Ecological solutions were considered important already in the tender documentation for the delivery of new trains for the Warsaw metro. Among the considered criteria, almost 30% of the awarded points were connected with ecology. Ecological solutions directly made up 8% of the total score. Another 20% was awarded for solutions involving electric energy efficiency. The Inspiro trains, to be launched on the first metro line this year and the central section of the second metro line next year, meet the strictest global environmental norms and are characterised by modern solutions in energy efficiency and recovery.

RailwayPRO: In your opinion, what are the solutions for increasing the attractiveness of public transport?
Jerzy Lejk: Several main transport nodes of the city are located along the currently operating first metro line, which is why the metro remains an important part of public transport. Its primary role is to provide high-quality passenger transport, maintain passenger safety and increase access to the metro for disabled persons. The development of these services increases the attractiveness of the metro as a means of public transport. It is reflected in passenger transport statistics, which show an increase each and every year. Additionally, periodic exhibits are organised, as well as community campaigns and events resulting from the constant cooperation with the Academy of Fine Arts, all of which serve to bring the metro stations to life.

RailwayPRO: Performing services that answer the citizens’ mobility needs are necessary to encourage the use of underground transport. But the share of metro (and public) transport also means changing the behaviour and the lifestyle of citizens. What are the challenges faced in changing the citizens’ mobility behaviour in a city?
Jerzy Lejk: Both metro as well as any other means of public transportation requires the passengers to follow specific rules. They are all set out in the regulations of the Public Transport Authority available in every train on the metro. They apply to everyone who purchases a ticket and uses public transport in Warsaw. Our company also conducts additional activities intended to induce the desired behaviour among the passengers. Among them is the request to remain vigilant concerning baggage abandoned on the premises of the metro, a warning against pickpockets and other atypical situations. You might also notice stickers by the escalators, which instruct you to stand on the right-hand side of the stairs.

[ by Pamela Luică ]
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