Two connections from Poland and Czech Republic to Ukraine launch this autumn
This autumn, two new train services connecting Ukraine and EU countries Poland and Czech Republic will be launched. The Warsaw – Rava-Ruska – Bryukhovychy connection will be launched this month in cooperation with Polish operator SKPL. In November, the connection Chop – Prague will follow in cooperation with RegioJet. This was stated by Evgeny Lyashchenko, chairman of the board of Ukrainian Railways (UZ), in an interview with news agency Interfax-Ukraine.
For the route Warsaw – Rava-Ruska – Bryukhovychy, the Polish SKPL is paid by UZ as customers of passenger transportation services with their rolling stock. This train service will be able to transport almost 500 passengers in both directions every day starting this October. In addition, a convenient transfer to trains that will take passengers to Lviv will be organized at the Rava-Ruska station.
Launching this connection would not have been possible a year ago. The Ukrainian side has restored the 1435 mm gauge track, which allows trains from Poland to go to Rawa Ruska since this year. In April, the first train (also from SKPL) crossed the border there as a test ride. This was the first Polish passenger train to enter Ukraine since the start of the war, according to SKPL.
For the connection from the Ukrainian city of Chop in Western Ukraine to the Czech capital Prague, RegioJet will fully cover operating costs. The model of profit distribution from the sale of tickets from UZ is currently still being discussed. “We recently had a meeting with Radim Janchur, the owner of RegioJet. We have confirmed further steps,” said Lyashchenko. Also, Ukrzaliznytsia and RegioJet, in addition to launching the Chop–Prague service, are working on a connection to Germany, connecting Przemyśl with Berlin and Hannover.
Suitable rolling stock
Foreign carriers are involved because Ukrainian Railways does not have enough rolling stock for European standard gauge tracks, according to Lyashchenko. The Ukrainian railway network has a 1,520 mm broad gauge built in the Soviet time, and thus most of the rolling stock of UZ is built for that. “Strategically, of course, we see ourselves as a player on this field. Over time, a European passenger company UZ may be created, just as Cargo Polska appeared on the cargo transportation market. However, this is a rather complicated and lengthy process. In addition, rolling stock is needed: wagons, and locomotives. I have to admit, this is a matter of more than one year”, said the chairman of the board.
Ukrainian Railways converted several passenger cars to be able to run on European gauge tracks to run on connections to Poland, but is still waiting for technical conclusions from the Polish side, said Lyashchenko in the interview. “It is a complicated story. We still have not received technical conclusions from the Polish side. Almost five months have passed since May, when the test run took place of 14 standard 1-VM passenger cars.” These were converted in Yagodina to carriages for 1435 mm tracks. “We have not yet received the final conclusions of the Polish colleagues, and remind them about this issue at all levels, at all protocol meetings and with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We are still waiting.”
More routes to come
In addition, Ukrainian Railways plans to develop one more route that will run along the European gauge tracks, Mostyska – Sknyliv, as well as the transformation of the Lviv hub as a European railway hub. According to Lyashchenko, in order to make a full-fledged route from Lviv to Warsaw, it is necessary to modernise 54 kilometres of European-gauge tracks on the Rava-Ruska – Bryukhovychy section. This will make it possible to enter Lviv on the European standard gauge tracks.
“The Lviv railway junction can already be considered as a separate project, as a hub that will have connections with European corridors. Laying new tracks of 1435 mm directly to the station is unrealistic. Therefore, we will submit a separate project of the Lviv transport hub, which will converge on both a large number of European passenger routes and a significant volume of cargo transportation”, said Yevhen Lyashchenko.
Ukrzaliznytsia plans to implement these projects within the framework of financing under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) programme. The company is also discussing the submission of projects for the Yagodyn – Kovel route as a stage in the development of the Warsaw – Kyiv route and projects for the development of the connection with Romania from Chernivtsi.