CPK station impression

POLAND: Prime Minister Donald Tusk has recommitted his government to implementing the Centralny Port Komunikacyjny high speed rail and airport programme.

When the current government came to power at the end of last year it quickly initiated a review of the previous administration’s plans for the scheme. In a speech on June 26, Tusk said this review had been necessary to ‘objectively evaluate the project status and remove the political influence in it’.

Tusk said the CPK plan represents a ‘triple jump into the modernity of transport’. Construction of a Y-shaped high speed rail network linking Warszawa, Łódź, Poznań and Wrocław in less than 100 min would be accompanied by the development of a central hub airport for the country at Baranów, 42 km southwest of Warszawa. This would have an annual capacity of 34 million passengers and be connected to central Warszawa in ‘around 15 min’ via the high speed line. It would be supported by the expansion of various regional airports.

Trains using the new lines would initially run at up to 250 km/h, with scope for some sections to permit 350 km/h operation in the future.

Under a series of revisions to the proposed alignments, the government says the amount of property acquisition will be significantly reduced.

The government’s CPK plenipotentiary Maciej Lasek said the timeline and investment assumptions have also been updated, with the opening date for the airport reset from 2028 to 2032 and the initial sections of high speed line to follow by 2035.

On July 1, project delivery body CPK was formally folded into the national Ministry of Infrastructure.

Procurement progress

CPK railway impression

‘In the near future, the third tender for the construction of a high speed railway tunnel in Łódź will be launched’, said Filip Czernicki, President of the CPK project delivery company, after Tusk’s speech. ‘We are also working on the tender documentation for the construction of subsequent sections of high speed railway from Warszawa to Wrocław’, he added.

‘In the coming days, several more contracts for design and preparatory works will be signed, as well as the announcement of further tenders for the implementation of design works.’

Accelerating rail journeys to and from Łódź is a priority under CPK, reflecting the historically poor rail access to the city. Upon completion of a 4 km tunnel for inter-city passenger traffic, journeys between Łódź and the capital would shrink from 90 min to 45 min, while the Łódź – Wrocław/Poznań journey times would fall from around 3 h today to approximately 1 h 10 min. A journey between Łódź and the new hub airport would take less than 30 min, according to CPK.

The faster journeys are to be made possible by a combination of investment in sections of new alignment and the modernisation of existing lines, which is being led by national infrastructure manager PKP PLK.

Significant amounts of EU funding are expected to be required to contribute to the rail investment elements of the programme: in June 2023, the European Commission allocated €63·6m from the Connecting Europe Facility for design and preparatory works on the new line linking Warszawa and Łódź.

Cost estimates produced under the previous government had put the overall budget for the CPK programme at €38bn, of which €8bn would cover the construction of the airport.