Archive for June 22nd, 2010

Rail modernisation plans in tatters

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

10,000 million PLN projects slashed, more to follow

PKP’s track investment plans as at March 2008. Prepared from a PKP press release.

(Click image to see larger version in a new window. Click here to access the original PKP press release.)

It is reported that Polish ministers have agreed to slash a number of strategic railway investment projects from those already agreed for EU funding during the 2007 – 2013 investment round. A PKP PLK (the state railway company’s infrastructure subsidiary) source said that the government had become concerned with the slow rate of progress in processing EU funded projects and hoped that some of the EU funding could be switched to rebuilding Poland’s roads.

After 40 years of under investment, EU funded programmes were supposed to be the panacea that would allow Poland’s crumbling railways to be brought up to the same standards as in Western Europe. However, the Polish Government preferred to use EU funds for road building and modernisation and only allocated some 20% of its EU-assisted budget for the period 2007 – 2013 for railway projects. In comparison, Slovakia and Lithuania allocated 35% for rail renewals and the Czech Republic, over 40%.

Now – blaming PKP’s poor performance in processing its EU funded projects – two key modernisation projects have been slashed. One is the upgrade of the Szczecin – Poznan – Wroclaw route, the other concerns the line from Warsaw to Bialystok and Lithuania. Both projects were budgeted to cost a total of 10,000 million PLN of which 6,000 million PLN was supposed to come from the EU. Two other projects worth a total 3,500 million PLN on the reserve list are also in jeopardy – Katowice to Zebrzydowice on the Czech border and Zwardon to the Slovak border.

Infrastructure Minister, Cezary Garbarczyk, is hopeful that the EU funding is not lost altogether, but can be transferred to road projects. Perhaps someone should tell the Polish government that it should be spending a minimum of 30% of its EU infrastructure funds on railway projects and that by concentrating on road transport the government is in danger of missing its EU targets on reducing CO2 emissions and encouraging sustainable development. Unless the EU Commission itself decides to take Poland to task it looks as if Poland’s railways are destined to be the Cinderella of Europe for many years to come.

Source (Polish):