The Polish government is doubling the size of its investment program for the railway network to 11 billion zlotys (2.38 billion euros), which will allow the completion of more than 1,200 kilometers of lines across Poland, announced Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.
Under the scheme, dubbed “Railway Plus” and first introduced in 2018, the government plans to expand the existing network of passenger connections, with particular emphasis on connecting towns to major cities.
“Poland is not just an archipelago of wealthy cities,” Morawiecki told a news conference in the eastern town of Janów Lubelski. “Most Poles live in medium and small towns and we also remember that.”
— Kancelaria Premiera (@PremierRP) April 20, 2022
“Today we have a crisis on our eastern border, we also have a refugee crisis, we have economic problems, but we also have to constantly focus on development so that towns, villages, hundreds of places like Janów Lubelski can develop normally,” he said.
The Prime Minister revealed that the increase in funding will allow the completion of 34 projects to upgrade existing lines or build new ones, instead of the 17 previously planned. The program is expected to be completed by 2028.
As planned in the initial program, the State will cover 85% of the investment costs, the rest being borne by the local authorities. But some provinces, districts and municipalities have withdrawn from the program citing the difficulty of finding funds amid the pandemic, reported Dziennik Gazeta Prawna daily last November.
Co uda się wykonać do 2028 w ramach programu Kolej Plus? Największe szanse na szybką realizację mają remonty torów. Budowa nowych linii może się okazać zbyt droga i czasochłonna. Pewne jest już, że w 7 lat nie powstanie linia Zegrze – Pułtusk – Przasnyszhttps://t.co/s5VMlVfoXj
— Krzysztof Śmietana (@SmietanaK) November 23, 2021
“It’s a program for the rich; we can’t afford more,” said an unnamed official from Lubusz province. Gazeta Wyborcza Last year. “Local governments are not able to bear such high costs,” added another, Marcin Jabłoński.
However, Dziennik Gazeta Prawna noted that interest in the program was high. According to PKP PLK, the Polish state railway infrastructure manager, local authorities had commissioned preliminary planning and forecasting studies for 47 projects, with a total value of around 16 billion zlotys (3.45 Billions of Euro’s).
PKP PLK did not immediately respond to Notes from Poland’s question regarding new data regarding the number of preliminary planning and forecasting studies that have been commissioned by local governments so far and the number of them which have been abandoned.
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Since 2015, Poland has upgraded and built more than 800 stations, substations, stops and around 6,000 kilometers of track, according to the government.
The total value of all investments currently being made in the railway network across Poland amounts to more than 40 billion zlotys (8.63 billion euros), he added.
Last year, the government announced that preparatory work was underway for 1,000 kilometers of railway lines to be built as part of a major transport hub near Warsaw, the centerpiece of which will be a new “mega- airport “.
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Main image credit: MM Czarnecki/Flickr (under CC BY-NC 2.0)
Alicja Ptak is an editor at Notes from Poland and a multimedia journalist. She previously worked for Reuters.