The €32BN Mega Project That Will Change Central Europe

The €32BN Mega Project That Will Change Central Europe

The keywords of this video are Megaproject, Poland, and Intermodal transport.

Hi guys, you are watching Railways Explained. The keywords for today s video are: Mega project,
Poland, and Intermodal transport. As you could see in many videos of our channel,
there s surprisingly big number of interesting and complex railways projects, especially in Europe.
However, our today s topic is slightly different.
Namely, the project that we are going to talk about includes the construction of a
transportation hub, which is a combination of an aviation hub and a high-speed railway station.
This innovative transport hub is planned as one of the world’s top airports and, at the same time, it
will be integrated into a high-speed rail network, which will enable both, connectivity within Poland
and of Poland with neighbouring countries. Now, we would like to give big thanks to
Solidarity Transport Hub Poland for informing us about this great project, but also helping
us to check our facts, and specially for obtaining a lot of materials for video edit.
Before we start with a detailed scope of the project, let s first say a few words about
the rail situation in Poland so we can all better understand the core of this project.
As of January 2020, the length of the railway lines in Poland, operated by all infrastructure
managers is 19,503 km, and it includes standard gauge and broad-gauge rail tracks.
National electrification system is 3 kV DC.
PKP Polskie Linie Kolejowe S.A. (PKP PLK) is the manager of the national railway infrastructure
of 18,680 km of railway lines. In addition to the main infrastructure manager PKP, there are also
10 more infrastructure managers. There are also 2 infrastructure managers which combine the
functions of managers and railway undertakings along lines designated solely for urban or
suburban rail transport (PKP SKM and WKD). Investments in railway infrastructure
in Poland increased significantly from 0.5 billion EUR in 2010 to 2.4 in 2020.
On the screen you can see railway infrastructure projects completed between 2015. and 2020.
Poland currently has no high-speed lines operated at speeds above 200 km/h (124 mph). High-speed
rail service commenced in Poland on 14th December 2014, with the introduction of 20 non-tilting
Pendolino trainsets that operates on several designated lines radiating out from Warsaw.
Poland is the second rail freight market in the EU,
with the German being the largest with 108 billion tkm in 2020. Polish rail freight
market accounted for 52 billion t-km and was at the same mark as in 2004 and 2008.
The share of rail freight transport in Poland continues to fall in relation to road transport:
from 42% in 2000 to 10% in 2020. The reason for this is very high growth
dynamics of the road transport – more than 5-fold increase over the mentioned period.
In 2019, railway operators in Poland carried 336 million passengers.
The growing trend in the number of passengers has been continued since 2015. In 2020, due to the
coronavirus, this trend was interrupted, recording a decrease of 38%. The biggest operator is
POLREGIO with 55.7 million passengers in 2020. The shape and development of the Polish railway
network were significantly influenced by the lack of Polish independence. What exactly do we mean?
Well, railway infrastructure was not constructed as a unified system serving the whole country.
Poland’s railway infrastructure is composed of parts of railway systems that provided services
for peripheral areas of 19th-century empires, and this primarily refers to the different
approaches of Russia, Prussia, and Austria to the development of rail infrastructure. Therefore,
these parts are, to some extent, complemented and integrated with scarce links, while the key links
were built after Polish independence in 1918 and, to a lesser extent, between 1945 and 1989
when there was another change of borders. Due to this imperfect configuration of the
railway network, road transport prevails over rail transport, with limited competitiveness of
rail transport being another factor. On average, Poles travel by train less than 7 times a year,
as compared to 17 in the Czech Republic, 32 in Germany, and 71 in Switzerland.
In addition, we would like to point out that Warsaw agglomeration airports are receiving
the largest number of passengers in this part of Europe: Warsaw Chopin Airport about 13 million,
and Warsaw Modlin Airport about 3 million. The Chopin Airport is also the only airport in the
region to maintain a substantial number of long-haul services. But the problem with
Chopin airport is that there is no capacity for its expansion and the available capacity of the
airport is running out. This has been known for a long time and has therefore been analyzed and
researched with the aim to create a sustainable and integrated transport system in Poland.
What is important for today’s topic, and which represents a kind of trigger for starting the
project, is an article “The Development of a State Transportation System” written by
Patryk Wild and Wojciech Zdanowski in which they presented a concept of constructing an integrated
aviation and railway hub, called Central Transfer Hub which, apart from being an airport, would also
be the main railway station within the integrated domestic system of transportation. It – thanks to
being connected by a network of new auxiliary transportation services would make up for gaps
in the existing railway infrastructure and thus ensure interconnectivity of all areas of Poland
and the surrounding countries. According to this concept, the Central Transfer Point would not only
be an airport combined with a railway station, but it would be the basic hub of the domestic
passenger transportation system, which was to be developed according to the Hub & Spoke model.
This concept of the development of the transport system was approved in November 2017 by the Polish
Council of Ministers. This led to the creation of the public company Central Transport Hub,
whose purpose is the construction of the central airport and the new railway network.
Before jumping into the scope of the project, it is time to thank the sponsor of today’s video –
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The scope of the Central Transport Hub or today known as Solidarity Transport Hub – STH
Project includes the creation of an interconnected air and rail transport hub
that ensures high connectivity within Poland. This is done in a way that ensures efficient
travel times of two and two and a half hours within the largest cities in Poland.
The STH system will be linked with neighbouring countries, providing connections to largest
economic centres in the CEE including Vienna, Prague, Bratislava and Budapest.
Also, via Rail Baltica, it will connect to Baltic cities including Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn. By
the way, if you want to know more about the Rail Baltica project, you know, check out our video.
So, more than 75 percent of the planned investment will go to the construction of a radially
developed high-speed rail network, with an airport in the center, along with the modernization
of the existing railways that will have a complementary function to the Hub&Spoke system.
The location of the central hub was chosen in the vicinity of Baranow.
This location is very beneficial from the point of view of the connectivity,
bearing in mind the proximity of the road and railway infrastructure.
This is located 37 km west of Warsaw, on an area of approximately 3,000 hectares, which in the
first stage will be able to handle 40 million passengers a year. In addition to its basic
function, this airport will also be an HSR station as Airport City which will include, among others,
trade fair, congress, conference, and office facilities. The big news that we have for you
is that the last week the investment variant of the new Warsaw STH airport was approved.
Also, the memorandum of understanding was signed in Warsaw by Noh Hyeong Ouk Korea s transport
minister and Kim Kyung-wook, the president of the Incheon International Airport Corporation.
The Koreans will become a minority shareholder in the project and raise
part of the money for the construction costs. The railway system will be based on a plan of a
spider web which consists of a total of 12 railway routes, including 10 so-called spokes leading
from various Polish regions to Warsaw and STH. The total length of the new railways is about 1981 km,
and it is planned for modernization about 3700 km of the existing railways.
It is planned that the construction and modernization of the railways will be completed
by 2034, and then, in addition to connecting all large Polish cities, it will bring the railway
to smaller cities that currently do not have a rail connection, such as Jastrzebie-Zdromza,
Tomasz Lubelski or Grjec, which for the last twenty years have lost their passenger stations.
CPK has developed detailed design guidelines, i.e. technical standards and technical conditions that
the future HSR network must meet. According to these standards, the railway will be double-track
with a 25 kV 50 HZ electrification system, which is a novelty for the railways in Poland.
Rail lines like Warszaw – Lodz, Lodz – Wroclaw and Sieradz – Poznan which all together are branded as
Y line, also the line from CPK towards Wroclawek will have designed speed of 350 km/h and initial
operational speed of 250 km/h which will be gradually increased. The rest of the rail
lines will have a design speed of 200-250 km/h with catenary supply of 25kv or 3kv. Rail lines
will be fully interoperable and in accordance with the specifications adopted at the EU level.
Passenger stations will be located every 50-100 km, and there will also be the possibility of
organizing fast freight traffic on selected sections, modeled on the Mercitalia Fast service.
The preparation of the feasibility studies for approximately 1,200 km of rail lines and the
development of investment options are underway. What is certainly worth underlining is that the
investment variant was approved, which determined the alignment of the route between Warsaw and the
city of Lodz in a length of about 140 km, which represents the backbone of the future system.
Also, the design of a tunnel in the city of Lodz with a length of 5km is underway,
which will have the function of connecting the new line Warsaw – Lodz with the Lodz – Wroclaw route.
It is the first of the STH investments to enter the design phase and have an environmental
decision. The signed contract provides for the execution of a construction design as well as the
necessary studies and administrative decisions for the tunnel and railway line. The plan is to
complete works and commissioning until 2027. Modern rolling stock will certainly be procured
within this project, but the current Pendolino and Husarz trains, that are used for speeds up
to 200 km/h in Poland, are dual and can work on both direct and alternating current systems,
so they will be able to serve both new and modernized railway lines. The new line and
new HSR trains will shorten travel times, making it easier for part of the national air connections
to be replaced by rail. For example, from Wroc?aw, you can get to Warsaw in 1 hour and 55 minutes
compared to the current 3 hours and 40 minutes. In order to see how these time savings are
reflected in demand, STH company has developed the Passenger Transport Model and forecast of
passenger traffic, taking into account transport performance data and traffic patterns for road,
rail, and air transport. The results of the traffic forecast indicate that the implementation
of the STH and the STH Railway Program investments will allow for an increase in the transport offer
and a double increase in the number of passengers on long-distance trains in Poland.
According to the forecast, after the implementation of the STH project,
nearly 120 million long-distance passengers can be expected, i.e. 95 million in the Long
distance category trains and 25 million in the regional express trains. Model includes
possibility of entering new railway operators due to liberalization of the rail market.
For comparison, in 2019 PKP Intercity has carried less than 49 million passengers.
Only on the key section of the railway network – connecting Warsaw with the STH
will nearly 65,000 passengers travel each day – this is more than currently travels
on the A2 motorway west of Warsaw. The new rail infrastructure will ensure very good
accessibility of the new airport – up to 40% of people who use it, will also commute by rail.
Also, demand modeling was conducted for the new airport and air traffic. It is assumed
that air traffic in Poland should recover to the pre-COVID numbers by the end of 2024.
The International Air Transport Association – IATA forecasted passenger demand by taking
into account the current situation of the aviation market, the course of the pandemic, macroeconomic
and demographic factors, airline development trends, and carrier development strategies.
It calculated that the new STH airports will serve about 30 million passengers in the first full year
of operation as a baseline scenario. The level of 40 million passengers is to be achieved in 2035,
and 50 million – in 2044. At the end of the forecast – in 2060,
the forecast predicts that this central aviation hub will handle approx. 72 million passengers.
Data related to cargo forecast predict about 0.5 million tons in 2030, one million tons
in 2035 and as much as 1.75 million tons at the end of the forecast period, i.e. in 2060.
This way, STH airport has a chance to join the largest cargo hubs in Europe – for example,
the Frankfurt airport which currently handles 2.1 million tons of cargo each year,
Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris – 2.1 million, and London Heathrow – 1.7 million.
The value of the STH project is still essentially indicative,
bearing in mind that detailed feasibility studies that consider several variants and select the most
cost-effective alternatives are still being prepared. For now, it is estimated that the
railway component will cost about 20 billion euros, and everything else that is planned,
new airports and their accompanying capacity, mini-road improvements, about 11 billion.
Currently, the main source of funding is the CPK Multi-Annual Investment Program for the period
2020-2023, under which the Polish government will provide 2.9 billion until the end of 2023.
This relates to the first works of the Solidarity Airport and for the new railway lines.
These funds are used mainly for engineering, preparatory work, and expropriations.
For the STH project, CPK hopes to have a considerable contribution of European funds,
given that the project is aligned with the EU s strategic transport objectives,
such as the Green Deal, the transfer of transport from road to rail,
and the main objectives of the TEN-T trans-European transport network strategy.
Finally, we would like to highlight the signing of the cooperation agreement
between the two European Mega projects – the Rail Baltica and STH with the purpose of
enabling the platform of future cooperation and additional integration of this part of Europe.
Also, Polish Government signed a memorandum of understanding with Spain in May 2021 regarding
CPK and the exchange of experience in construction and operation of High-speed rail system.
With this, we came to an end of this video. As always, Railways Explained team will follow the
situation and progress of this, and other interesting railway projects. We do this,
especially on our Patreon page, where we strive to make a comprehensive post whenever something
important happens. We will use the opportunity to also thank all our patrons for their generous
support, which to us really means a lot! Another way to help our small production
is to buy some of the cool rail related productions that we prepared in our online store.
Check it out on the link bellow. This was a story about the STH Project
on the Railways Explained. We hope you enjoyed and learned something new about the railways
of the world. Help us reach a larger audience by hitting the like button, sharing the video
with your friends, and of course, subscribing to our channel. Until the next time, goodbye!

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As you could see in many videos on Railways Explained, there’s a surprisingly significant number of interesting and complex railways projects, especially in Europe. However, this project is slightly different. Namely, it includes the construction of a transportation hub, which is in fact a combination of an aviation hub and a high-speed railway station.

This innovative transport hub, or as it is called today Solidarity Transport Hub (STH Project), is planned as one of the world’s top airports and, at the same time, it will be integrated into a high-speed rail network, which will enable, first, connectivity within Poland, and then, connectivity of Poland with its neighboring countries.

After completion, it will ensure efficient travel times (of two and two and a half hours) within the largest cities in Poland, and it will provide connections to the largest economic centers in the Central Eastern Europe, including Vienna, Prague, Bratislava, and Budapest. Also, via Rail Baltica, it will connect to Baltic cities including Vilnius, Riga, and Tallinn.

Besides all relevant aspects of the projects, such as background, scope, transport effects, and financing, we also discussed the railway system of Poland as a whole.

Big thanks to the guys from Solidarity Transport Hub Poland for helping us in making this video!

This video was sponsored by Brilliant.


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