Almost EUR 2 million were allocated by the EU to STH for preparatory work for the construction of a 30-kilometer railway section near the border with the Czech Republic. As a result, trains will reach Jastrzębie-Zdrój, Poland's largest town without railways today. This is a section of the Katowice-Ostrava route to be constructed by STH in cooperation with the Czech railway operator – SŽDC.
The financing granted to Solidarity Transport Hub Poland (Centralny Port Komunikacyjny) of EUR 1.75 million will cover preparatory works for the construction of the railway route from the Polish-Czech border to Jastrzębie-Zdrój and the connection with the existing Chybie-Żory line. The planned 30-km section is the missing link on the TEN-T Trans-European Transport Network. The work will also include a proposed route of the new railway corridor Jastrzębie Zdrój-Katowice.
Not only will the investment project allow for better railway communication between Poland and its neighbors, but it will also include Jastrzębie-Zdrój with almost 90 thousand inhabitants, the largest town in Poland without access to the railways, into the long-distance network.
STH applied for funding from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) at the end of April. The funds are used to implement EU infrastructure projects.
Obtaining financial support from the Connecting Europe Facility for projects from other EU countries, considering huge competition, is very good news. This also proves that the investment project is needed. This is the first application for funding of STH Railway Program under the CEF
In the “Transport” category of CEF, 64 applications were received from different EU countries, of which 56 (including STH's) concerned investment projects in cross-border sections within the TEN-T network. Their total value amounts to EUR 227 million. Finally, the Commission selected in this category 31 projects for which EUR 117 million had been allocated by Brussels. The decision still needs to be approved at the level of the European Commission.
Since April, STH and the Czech railway infrastructure SŽDC have been working together in preparation for the construction of the new railway routes. The cooperation concerns the coordination of the process of preparation and construction of not only the new cross-border Katowice-Ostrava line, but also Wrocław-Prague line. Both parties undertook to jointly determine the exact route and agree the detailed technical parameters of the new routes.
The construction of a new line in the area of Jastrzębie-Zdrój, co-financed from CEF, is only one of the elements of the STH railway program in Silesia and in Lesser Poland. The main investment project in the region will be the Lesser Poland-Silesia Hub (WMŚ), which is to be a new transfer point and long-distance stop for the area of Jaworzno, Chrzanów and Olkusz.
What benefits will WMŚ bring for the passengers? The construction of the hub and the lines leading to it will reduce the travel time of the fastest trains between Kraków and Katowice to 35 minutes. Thanks to this, the travel from Warsaw to Katowice will take approx. 1 hour 35 minutes, and it will take 1 hour 45 minutes to get to Kraków. As a result of these activities, the number of trains running through Katowice and Kraków will increase significantly.
The new track system will also enable the launch of direct trains from Katowice - through Sosnowiec and Dąbrowa Górnicza, WMŚ and Olkusz - to Kraków, which will mean the mending of historical developments as a result of which today Sosnowiec, with over 200 thousand inhabitants, Dąbrowa Górnicza with 120-thousand inhabitants, and Będzin, with 60-thousand inhabitants, do not have a railway connection to Kraków, located at a distance of 65 km.
The implementation of STH Railway Program will also contribute to shortening railway journeys beyond national borders – to theCzech Republic, but also to Hungary and Slovakia. The plans include the construction of the V4 high-speed cross-border line on the route Budapest-Bratislava-Brno-Warsaw, which will run through Ostrava, Jastrzębie-Zdrój (a new section for which STH has just received financing under the CEF), Rybnik and Katowice area, and further through WMŚ and the existing Central Trunk Line up to STH.
The STH railway program assumes construction of more than 1.6 thousand km of new lines (so-called railway spokes) running from 10 directions to STH and Warsaw. As part of the zerostage, which should be ready before Solidarity Airport becomes operational, 140 km of a new Warsaw-STH-Łódź line will be built, on which trains are to run at a speed of up to 250 km/hour. The assumed travel time from Warsaw to STH is 15 minutes and from Łódź - 25 minutes.
Each of the 10 spokes leading to STH will consist of: new track sections and renovated or modernized parts of the existing infrastructure. The construction of the former will be the responsibility of STH and the modernization of the latter will be the responsibility of PKP Polskie Linie Kolejowe.