The first section of Line 2
New tenders for building the central section of Warsaw’s new Metro line are due in on 16 February. The huge gap between City Council’s own estimate of the cost, 2.8 billion PLN, and the lowest tender received, 5.8 billion, caused the Council to cancel the last tender. Since then, 5 months have passed during which time the Council had an excellent chance to reconsider the Line 2 specification. Sadly the opportunity was not taken and the new plans differ little from the previous version. It is a pity that a rethink did not take place before the tender documents were issued. Here are some of main issues that should have been addressed:
- In 1863, the world’s first underground railway, the Metropolitan Railway, linked 4 London mainline railway termini to the City of London. Since then, connecting to main line railway stations has been a major goal of metro planners. (London’s Victoria Line tube has 11 main line connecting stations.) But what makes sense in the rest of the world does not apply to Warsaw it seems. Line 2 is planned to have just one main line connection, the sparsely served Warszawa Wilenska, and is being routed to miss Warszawa Centralna by 400 metres! Line 1 was recently completed after an epic 25 year building programme. It was diverted by City planners from its original route, which would had a station at Warszawa Centralna, and misses Warsaw’s most important railway station by 500 metres! Sadly, when it comes to building an integrated public transport system, Warsaw’s transport bosses haven’t a clue.
- The line is to be a classic heavy metro. These are very expensive to build and take a great deal of time to complete. Warsaw can ill afford the cost and time delays. A semi-metro, like Hannover’s Stadtbahn, which runs underground in the centre of a city and can use tramway tracks on the outskirts, can be rolled out quickly and could be a cost effective fast cure for Warsaw’s traffic problems.
- The line is to tunnel under the Vistula rather than cross the river by a bridge. The 1951 attempt to build an East-West metro by the communist government was halted in 1957 because of the difficulties and expense of tunnelling in the water logged sands and gravels under the Vistula. When building works ceased, writing about the aborted works was banned by the censors. Intrigingly, rumours persist that one tunnel under the Vistula was actually completed. Alas, unless the pumps have been kept going for half a century the tunnel, if it exists, will now be flooded.
- The line between Rondo ONZ and Stadion parallels the PKP Linia Srednicowa cross city line, running some 0.5 kilometre to the North. Warsaw can’t afford this duplicated capacity. The City needs an East-West metro line running further to the North and crossing Krakowskie Przedmiescie at a point where it could serve the University and the Old Town.
- The line won’t be completed in time for Euro 2012 football championships which completely negates the reason for adopting current southerly route to serve the new sport stadium which is already served by Stadion station.
So what would BTWT recommend? Our alternative solution is easy, and rather than build 6 miles of disconnected metro tunnel which needs other investments before it can be put to work, our plan would improve transport facilities on 20 route miles which would benefit the inhabitants of a huge swathe of Warsaw.
We would start by providing a serious makeover to the following PKP stations: Warszawa Zachodnia, Warszawa Srodmiescie, Powisle, Stadion, Warszawa Wschodnia, Warszawa Zoo, Warszawa Gdanska, Warszawa Kolo Warszawa Kasprzaka and Warszawa Wola. We would build brand new stations at Muzeum Narodowe (to serve Nowy Swiat, the Stock Exchange and the Sejm), Michalow (to connect with the 7 and 13 tram services), Rondo Zaba (a major tram and bus interchange), and at Jana Pawla II and Obozowa (both major tram and bus arteries). Apart from track and signalling upgrades, the following civil engineering works would also be required: completion of the existing project to build a spur to the airport at Okecie and two short connecting curves at Michalow and Wola.
Taking London’s former Outer Circle (now London Overground) as our model, two services would be run providing Metro style frequency and comfort. The first would be a shuttle service between Warszawa Okecie, Zwirki Wigury, al Jezorolimskie, Warszawa Zachodnia, Warszawa Centralna, Stadion, Warszawa Wschodnia, Michalow, Warszawa Wilenska. The second would be a circular service Warszawa Wola, Warszawa Srodmiescie, Museum Narodowe, Powisle, Stadion, Warszawa Wschodnia, Michalow, Rondo Zaba, Warszawa Zoo, Warszawa Gdanska, Warszawa Kolo, Jana Pawla II, Obozowa, Warszawa Kasprzaka and back to Warszawa Wola.
Our proposal gives the best of both world’s – the Okecie-Wilenska shuttle could easily be in service in time for the 2012 matches and would link both the airport and Warszawa Centralna to the stadium. There is capacity at Centralna for a 15 minute interval service. The circular service with a 15 minute frequency offset by 7.5 minutes could also be implemented by 2012, even if the construction of the Museum Narodowe station is held over until after the championships.
And the cost? We will look at incremental costs only. So we will ignore the cost of the rolling stock which is not being included in the metro tender. The cost of the airport spur and improvements at Centralna, Zachodnia and Wschodnia and Gdanska are already in the pipeline and will also be omitted.
Improvements at Warszawa Srodmiescie, Powisle, Warszawa Zoo, Warszawa Kolo, Warszawa Kasprzaka and Warszawa Wola (6 at 50 million PLN each) –
300 million PLN
New stations at Michalow, Rondo Zaba, Jana Pawla II and Obozowa (4 at 75 million each) –
300 million PLN
New station at Museum Narodowe (underground and with extensive pedestrian subway links) –
200 million PLN
Major facelift at Stadion (official gateway to the championship with extensive pedestrian subway links) –
150 million PLN
New rail links at Wola and Michalow (2 at 400 million each) –
800 million PLN
Additional signalling and track improvements not already in the pipeline –
950 million PLN
100 million PLN
2.8 billion PLN
Assuming the new metro tenders come in at 4 billion PLN, which proposal would you rather choose?
Mgr.inz. Kazimierz Hantz, Mgr.inz.arch. Jerzy Blancard, An integrated economical plan for Warsaw’s public transport:
- Schematic map
- Report (pdf download)