UKRAINE: A ceremony on January 21 marked the breaking through of the new Beskyd Tunnel, which is being built to eliminate a bottleneck on the otherwise double-track section of Pan-European Corridor V between Lviv and the Hungarian border at Chop.

The existing single-track tunnel dates from 1886 and its poor condition restricts speeds to 40 km/h or less, limiting capacity on the route.

The new tunnel will be 1 764 m long, or 1 822 m including the portals, and a maximum of 180 m deep. The bore is 8·5 m high and 10·5 m wide, which will provide the clearance required for a double track alignment suitable for speed up to 70 km/h. This will more than doubling capacity from 47 to 100 trains each per direction per day.

National railway UZ is meeting 30% of the €163m cost of the project, with EIB providing a €55m loan and ERBD US$40m. Contractors Interbudmontazh and Porr began work in November 2013, using the New Austrian Tunnel Method. Completion is scheduled for the end of 2017, with regular services planned for the second quarter of 2018. There will be three cross-passages to the old tunnel, which will remain in use until the new tunnel opens and will then be used for emergency access.

According to EBRD, the Beskyd Tunnel is the first public sector project in Ukraine to which FIDIC construction standards and EBRD procurement policies are being applied, and as such is ‘an important industry benchmark’ for transparency and efficiency.

‘This is a very important project for Ukraine and Europe’, said Sevki Acuner, EBRD Director for Ukraine. ‘Modern transport links will boost cross-border trade and co-operation, and bring people and businesses closer together. Better access will also allow the region to realise its potential as a destination for tourism and investment.’