Archive for the ‘environmental policy’ Category

Road building with a bang

Monday, 5 July 2010

On 23 June, Army engineers blew up the last obstacle on the route of the Strykow – Warsaw section of the new A2 – a viaduct built in the 1970s for the uncompleted ‘Olimpijka’ motorway at Nowa Wies near Zyrardow. Photo GDDKiA.

(Click to see a larger image.)

Modernisation of Poland’s railways limps along. Key EU-funded projects are cancelled and Zbigniew Szafranski, the chairman of PKP’s infrastructure subsidiary, Polskie Linie Kolejowe, warns that at the end of the EU structural funding period 2007 – 2013, Poland’s railways will actually be in a worse state than they were at its start. Unless new funds are found, some 7,000 – 8,000 km of railways are expected to close.

Meanwhile Poland’s Ministry of Infrastructure has made road building its No.1 priority. Approvals processes have been simplified and new procedures introduced to ensure that the paperwork necessary to pull down EU funds can be generated on time.

The Ministry’s reforms are already bringing results. In June alone, Poland’s Trunk Road and Motorway Directorate, Generalna Dyrekcja Drog Krajowych i Autostrad, progressed a number of key projects:

8 June Miekow by-pass funding endorsed by MI 65 million PLN
14 June Elk by-pass funding agreed by PARP
14 June Oleck by-pass funding agreed by PARP
17 June A1 motorway Torun-Kowal contracts signed 3.9 million PLN
18 June Jaroslaw by-pass funding agreed by PARP
18 June A1 motorway Lodz sections contracts signed 1,111 million PLN
18 June Pabianice by-pass contract signed 514 million PLN
30 June A4 motorway Krzyz section funding agreed 5,000 million PLN

In May, the Directorate received refunds of 223 million PLN from the EU for expenditure it had incurred under the aegis of The Infrastructure and Environment Operational Program. During this period the Polish Statre Railways infrastructure company PKP PLK failed to recover any funding of its EU funded projects. Moreover in June the Ministry of Infrastructure cancelled two EU-funded modernisation projects: Szczecin – Poznan – Wroclaw, and Warsaw – Bialystok – Lithuania worth a total of 10,000 million PLN.


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):

Clean up the climate!

Friday, 24 April 2009


‘Odkurz Klimat’ – a viral marketing campaign

(Click picture to see animation and link to campaign.)

PKP are one of the sponsors of a viral marketing campaign, OdkurzKlimat.PL – walcz z korkami. (Fight the traffic jams – clean up the climate.) The objective is to get people to fill in the simple form and a link wings its way to your selected friend. If the link is clicked a short animation appears with the message, “Clean up the climate. Leave your car in the car park and use public transport.”

Trains vs. cars

External costs – noise, pollution, space requirements, road maintenance, accidents:
• trains – 19 euro/km
• cars – 88 euro/km

Contribution to EU CO2 emissions:
• trains – 1%
• cars – 72%

Energy consumption in EU due to:
• trains – 2%
• cars – 82%

capacity of 1 metre of track:
• trains – 9000 people/hr
• cars – 200 people/hr

(statistics from PKP’s press release)

It may not be the most imaginative viral marketing campaign ever, but it seems that for the first time PKP is recognising the power of the Internet. It certainly is a step in the right direction. Dyspozytor filled in the name of fellow blogger Michael Dembinski who had just posted an article on W-wa Jeziorki about being stuck in several contra flow traffic jams on the Warsaw – Torun road. In the end a 220 km trip took him 4 hours. Mike, why did you not go by train? You could have done the whole journey in 3 hours and 20 minutes, and read the papers or worked on your laptop.

Railway Misadventures

Monday, 12 May 2008

Does the left hand know what the right is getting up to?

On April 21 2008, Reuters reported that Poland must urgently upgrade its environmental protection laws to European Union standards or risk losing billions of euros in aid. “Poland needs to do more, and to do it more quickly as far as environmental protection laws are concerned,” said EU Regional Aid Commissioner Danuta Huebner. The EU has earmarked 67 billion euros ($106 billion) in aid for Poland, the biggest ex-communist newcomer, in 2007-2013. Some of this money could be lost without quick amendments to laws concerning the environment. “… Their absorption depends on upgrading legislation,” Huebner, who is Polish, warned. “Time is running out …, these are not the changes that can be introduced overnight.”

The Commission first warned Poland about the need to upgrade its laws in 2005, a year after the country joined the EU. The then left-wing government made some changes but, according to recent EU audits, they were not adequate. The Commission blocked some 800 million euros from a 2004-2006 budget because of the problem. Polish officials have said the country has so far submitted many projects for EU approval in line with its environmental requirements although these have not been mandated by Polish legislation. This has allowed Poland to make use of about 75 percent of EU funds for 2004-2006 but the Commission was growing reluctant to give conditional go-aheads for projects, Huebner said. “Unless there is an acceleration on the part of Poland, the threat will grow” she said.

One of the idiocies of the current legislation is the owner of a private railway siding used for freight is liable to local tax, but if the he rips up the siding, covers it in asphalt and uses lorries to transport materials in and out, his new road is not subject to any cuts. Poland has seen a wholesale scrapping of private sidings and the last sugar refinery railway was lifted a few years ago. So while the Polish government spins its environmental credentials, what is really happening in the ground? Read Mike Dembinski’s timely article below, which was originally posted on 3 May on the Wwa-Jeziorki blog.

Farewell to the Rampa line

This evening I had the greatest shock I’ve experienced in our six years of living in Jeziorki. Scrambling to the top of the aggregate line embankment to suddenly realise – the tracks have been ripped up. Compare with photo taken ten weeks ago. Removing the tracks seems to run counter to today’s environmental trends – rail should be replacing road for the transport of bulk freight. This is a sad sight for railway enthusiasts. Once torn up, they’ll never come back.

The speed and scale of the operation has amazed me; it was not long since my last walk here. The tracks have been thrown down the side of the embankment and the sidings below also ripped up. Below: Looking towards the buffers at the Nowa Iwiczna end of the line. Compare with this view taken ten weeks ago.

Looking up at the embankment gives one the impression of scorched earth – vandalism on a monumental scale.

What will happen here? Will the rails be replaced by asphalt, allowing trucks to bring aggregate to the Jeziorki depot? Will this be a new local road, enabling the residents of the new housing estates of Nowa Iwiczna and Mysiadło to by-pass the totally congested ul. Puławska? One thing is certain – a killing will be made on the scrap rails.

I did some checking online. The site is owned by Warszawskie Zakłady Eksploatacji Kruszywa (WZEK Sp. z o.o.). Its registered commercial activity, last amended on 7 November 2005, is ‘real estate’ and ‘trans-shipment of cargo’, in that order. My brother speculates that this sizeable piece of land, right next to a suburban railway station, would be prime property for a developer.

Warsaw City Hall has given planning consent for connecting the WZEK site to the main sewers running down ul. Karczunkowska on 12 November 2007, but I can’t find anything relating to ripping up rails or change of land use.

UPDATE: 11 May – most of the rails seen strewn down the embankment have been removed.

Photo of the rampa na kruszywa in action
More photos and a track plan
Looking towards the rampa from the end buffers
On the sidings, W-wa Jeziorki, last July

(Article and all photography by Mike Dembinski. What Mike calls a ‘rampa na kruszywa’ is really a estakada do wyładowywania wagonów samowyładowczych typu Fals. WARNING – If you don’t have Polish fonts installed some of the Polish text may look garbled.)

(The satellite picture can be scrolled and enlarged.)