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Dual gauge railway in Ukraine

Ukraine plans dual gauge railway to EU

Ukrainian Railway (UZ) intends to construct a dual gauge railway to the border with Poland. It will allow the company to launch the direct trains from Ukraine to the European Union without bogie exchange. The 70-kilometre route will be converted from the conventional broad gauge railway of 1,520 millimetres to the dual gauge line by adding the parallel tracks for 1,435-millimetre gauge.

The project has been announced on Thursday, 28 November. According to CEO of Ukrainian Railway Yevhen Kravtsov, it takes one year to perform the project. “In a year we can construct the European gauge railway from the state border to Sknyliv station. It means that in a year Ukrainians will get the direct high-speed connection from the centre of Lviv to Kraków, Prague, Vienna,” the UZ’s chairman said without noting the launch date of the construction. He also noted that a journey from Lviv to Kraków (via Przemyśl) will take only 3 hours and a half instead of over 9 hours now.

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Dual gauge railway from Lviv to Poland, source: RailTech & Google Maps

Some details

Two other important issues of the project, its value and who will fund it, are still under consideration. However, Mr Kravtsov promised to publish the estimations in the coming future and solve the financial question. According to him, the planned combined line will be constructed on the Lviv – Mostyska section. The combined railway will start at Sknyliv railway station located in the southwest part of Lviv and in 10 kilometres from its core.

It will end at Mostyska-1 railway station, close to the border between Ukraine and Poland. This station already has a combined track that allows handling passenger and freight trains from Poland without bogie exchange. After running through the Mostyska – Medyka border crossing and entering Poland, the trains will use the existing lines with a gauge of 1,435 millimetres.

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Map of railways in Lviv. The city core of and Sknyliv railway station are marked with green frames, source: OpenRailwayMap

Lviv airport rail link

Sknyliv railway station has been chosen as a terminus of the planned line for two key factors. First, it will allow UZ to avoid the congested junction near Lviv Central station. Currently, it handles a lot of freight and passenger trains. Therefore, the construction works would be very difficult. The second reason is the station’s proximate location to Lviv Airport. “We plan to launch an express train between Sknyliv, the airport and Lviv Central station,” he said.

Long story

It is worth to note that the Lviv – Mostyska railway is the oldest one in Ukraine. It was constructed in 1861 using a European standard of 1,435 millimetres. After World War Two when Western Ukraine finally became a part of the Soviet Union, this line was converted to a broad gauge of 1,520 millimetres. The European gauge remained only on the section between the border and Mostyska-1 railway station. For more than 10 years, several Ukrainian cabinets and local authorities have been declaring their intentions to implement the project. In 2014 Ukrainian Railway even made some estimations. Then, it was valued at 460 million euros. However, every time the project has been postponed due to financial or political reasons.

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Author: Mykola Zasiadko

Mykola Zasiadko is editor of online trade magazines RailTech.com and RailFreight.com.

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