A MEMORANDUM signed in Ostrava on June 22 will pave the way for construction of a 1524mm gauge rail link across southern Poland from Katowice to a multimodal terminal at Bohumín in northern Moravia by the end of next year. The US$300m project envisages the extension of the existing ’Sulphur-Steel Railway’ which runs for 392 km from the Ukraine border at Ludin/Hrubieszów to Ciesle in the east of Katowice.

Czech Prime Minister Milosh Zeman, Russia’s Minister of Railways Nikolai Aksyonenko, and Ukraine’s First Vice-Minister of Transport G N Kirpa signed the accord to boost Trans-Siberian landbridge traffic. However, it still awaits approval by the Polish government.

The 90 km line would be developed by the Russian-Israeli company Shiran General Trade AG, together with a new terminal at Bohumín intended to tranship an initial 100000 containers a year. Throughput would rise to 300000 TEU after 2003. The Bohumín terminal is also expected to handle up to 15 million tonnes of bulk materials a year, primarily iron ore.