Poland aims for high-speed rail service by 2020
Once the green light is given, Poland will be inviting companies to bid for the EUR 8-billion-project to lay a new line capable of handling high-speed trains.4 June 2008
WARSAW - Poland, where rail travel is notoriously sluggish, is hoping to have its first high-speed train service up and running by 2020, Infrastructure Minister Cezary Grabarczyk announced on Tuesday.
Laying a new line capable of handling high-speed trains between Warsaw and the western cities of Poznan and Wroclaw could in theory slash journey times by more than half.
The plan is due to be submitted to the government for a final green light in coming months in order to have a feasibility study completed by 2010, Grabarczyk said.
The aim to begin track construction by 2014 and complete it in 2019.
"The priority is linking into the European network," Grabarczyk added.
The EUR 8-billion-project involves building a Y-shaped line running from the capital via the central city of Lodz, which would then branch out of Poznan and Wroclaw.
The aim is to have 35 separate trains serving the line.
Years of underinvestment both before and since the fall of communism in 1989 have left Poland with one of the shabbiest rail systems in the European Union, which it joined in 2004.
The state of the tracks means many trains have to travel at reduced speeds. As a result, it takes travellers around five and a half hours, at best, to cover the 345 kilometres from Warsaw to Wroclaw, while the 330-kilometre Warsaw-Poznan trip lasts about three hours.
"I'm passionate about high-speed trains," Grabarczyk told reporters.
Poland will be inviting bids for the locomotives and rolling stock, he said.
Grabarczyk, however, did not hide his preference for the new AGV train from the French group Alstom, which is due to go into service in Italy in 2011 and is set to hit a speed of 360 kilometres per hour.
"The AGV doesn't seem to have any competition," he said.
[AFP / Expatica]