Plans have been passed by the European Union (EU) to invest more than €432 million from the Cohesion Fund to extend Poland's Warsaw Metro. The first section opened in 1995 and work did not finish until 2008. Serving the capital city, the second stage of the line will connect the eastern part to the west. Decisions to extend the line are prioritised on the Energy Union’s agenda to ensure a low-emission strategy is put into practice. This intiative will be delivered under the EU wide goals to reduce emission mobility and promote a greater rail ridership. The deal will finance more train stations on the north-east and west regions in the city, plus 13 new trains. It is hoped that passengers will be able to ride the completed network by November 2019. In this special feature, SmartRail World have also looked into the rail developments taking place around Europe.
The Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Cretu said: “Sustainable urban mobility is crucial to the quality of life in our cities.” and “by investing in the extension of the metro in Warsaw, we encourage people to change their habits, leave their cars and enjoy access to a fast and modern public transport system."
The EU pledge to support the creation of smarter cities by increasing the reliance on public transport to ease traffic congestion and improve the environment. The European Commission is hoping to deliver the EU's sustainability targets and provide a better quality of life for commuters. News of this major investment project in Warsaw is part of a call for innovative urban projects to improve urban mobility. Funds will connect the whole city to deliver a better integrated network including new stations at Trocka, Targówek, Szwedzka, Ksiecia Janusza, Mlynów and Plocka.
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European Union Structural Funds are an integral part to rail infrastructure in Central and Eastern European countries (CEE). These areas have always been prioritised for funding distribution because without it, little progress would be made. For some countries, EU investing is the only financial contribution that is made to improving their railways. This investment will fund a range of new project proposals, monitor and upgrade current tracks through modernisation projects, railway electrification, signalling and purchasing new rolling stock. €6.5 billion is allocated to CEE leaving €1.1 billion to all 28 EU member states.
Poland have received a healthy amount of investment from the EU between the years 2014 - 2020 of €82.5 billion, €15 billion more than in 2007 - 2013. This is because the country is the CEE’s most important rail market engaged with a variety of modernisation projects and increased rolling stock. However, these dizzying amounts of money are seeing a positive return on investment as passenger ridership is increasing now that the journeys are continuing to improve.
So what other CEE countries are the EU heavily investing into?
In Hungary's ancient capital Budapest, the EU are looking to increase the train speeds and rail capacity for both passenger and freight trains. But unlike Poland, the Hungarian government will support the developments by investing a further €3 billion into their country’s rail infrastructure by 2020. Despite this, an impressive 85% will still be financed by the EU.
In Bulgaria, the government will receive up to €134 million for rail projects under agreements with CEF which will modernise Sofia - Voluyak and Sofia - Elin Pelin lines with 73-85% of co-financing coming from the EU. In addition to this, many areas of the country are experiencing rail deterioration and the passenger ridership has fallen by 70% since the 1990s. This focus on Sofia is expected to begin the start of a better connected Bulgaria working its way out from the capital.
Latvia’s biggest area that needs to be addressed in rail is electrification along the east-west axis. The EU provided €8.8 million towards this €14.2 million project. Infrastructure-wise, improvement works are underway on the Skriveri - Krustpils line and on the Rail Baltica corridor, with both projects worth €136.8 million. Rail Baltica is set to receive €442.2 million under the latest CEF announcements.
Romania, however have a different reaction towards their country’s rail ridership. In talks last year, transport officials outlined a proposal to close up to 40% of railway infrastructure. By contrast, they intend to focus on expensive upgrades to remaining integral services. As part of this vision, the government is keen to invest €19 billion into the modernisation, electrification and reparation of 4350km worth of line. Despite this, the CEF will only provide Romanian with €1.2 billion.
Editor's comment: The EU plays an integral part to the rail upgrades in CEE locations. Rail in this region of the continent lack funds and priority on government agendas. However, the EU understands the potential that rail infrastructure can deliver to make smarter cities for the future and increase passenger mobility. For this reason, the organisation will continue to deliver these positive results across the continent's rail network.
To read about more European developments taking place read: