Air Rail Developments in Poland

Adam Fularz, Oct.2007- June 2012

In recent two years a real break-through occurred. In Poland first airport link was opened, alas with severe toothing problems, another one in Warsaw was recently opened (June 2012). Another dozen of such links are under consideration or in advanced planning stage.

Kraków (Cracow)
Currently the only airport link in operation in Poland. It was constructed using the undersued military branch line connecting the army base with national rail network. The service opened in May 2006. The travel time to Kraków City Centre amounts to 15 minutes, there are services every 30 minutes in the peak time and less often in non-peak times. Tickets were sold in PKP cash offices and from vending machinses, but these were reported in Sept.2007 to be coninuously out of service.

There occured sewere toothing problems (trivia: during the first ride- a gate on the tracks owned by the army was closed, army guards knew nothing about the new service, and refused to allow for the passage of the train!). In general, there are contiously problems with quality. In the beginning of exploatation, the schedule saw many courses withdrawn or temporarily cancelled. Often passengers were transported only to Kraków-Mydlniki, where bus transfer was provided for the airport. There were often rolling stock shortages in the past, DMU’s of local production proved to be very prone for faults in the intensive usage required here. Currently the line is served by two air-condidtioned DMU’s (type SA133-004 i SA133-005, produced by PESA), often worser quality rolling stock is provided. Fare is reported to be 6 PLN- quite a lot for Polish conditions, given the length of the distance.

Fig. PESA SA133-005 serving the Kraków Główny - MPL Kraków Balice service (source: wikimedia)

A 500 meters on new track will be laid to connect the current terminus, located 200 meters from the entrance to the international T1 terminal, to connect the line directly with the terminals. There was also an idea developed to build a check-in facility in Kraków „Nowe Miasto” (Cracow New Town) shopping centre, and to transfer checked-in luggage directly to the terminal using the rail link. The idea was raised by the developer who owns the shopping centre together with the port authorities. The dispute is still underway, alas the state-owned rail carrier „PKP Przewozy Regionalne” and state-owned track authority „PKP Polskie Linie Kolejowe” are not a good partner for such businesses. The second company lacks money even for maintenance, and new investments are very rare. Over the last decade, no new tracks were constructed, and only several new stops were added on the network.

Fig. Proposal of ragional authorities for the future shape of suburban rail network of SKM type in Kraków (source: promotional materials of Małopolska regional authorities)

This city of approx. 700 thousand inhabitants plans to either build a rail link using the unused rail branch from Poznań- Szczecin mainline to one of the manufacturies near the Ławica Airport terminal (short new section of tracks will be needed), or to build a tram line to serve the airport. A decision was not yet announced, proposals are being analysed by local authorities.
Warsaw (Warszawa)
An extensive project is currently realised. Already the rail terminus at newly constructed Warsaw Airport 2nd Terminal was constructed, allegedly with no tracks yet. PKP Polskie Linie Kolejowe S.A. recently started to modernise the line from Warsaw to Radom, having the planned airport rail link in mind. Two new intermediate stops will be added (Warszawa Al. Jerozolimskie, Warszawa Żwirki i Wigury), and a junction will be constructed that will allow the trains from the airport to enter the Warszawa- Radom mainline. What still lacks is the missing link between the Warszawa- Radom line and the already existing terminus at the airport. It is planned that the investment will be finished by 2009.

Source: Rzeczpospolita and rynek-kolejowy.pl, green and blue- new rail lines.

This low-cost airport will be located 40 kms north to Warsaw. There are plans to use the existing railway branch and national network to provide a quick and comfortable connection to Warsaw city centre. It was planned that already in 2009 this airport would serve 1 million passengers yearly. However, progresses in its construction are small. PKP announced already in 2005 an agreement with PPL on the modernisationand electrification of the existing branch to the airport and the whole line. Currently only the national railway line is being uprgaded to 160 km/h as a part of the Warsaw-Gdańsk transpot corridor.

Fig. One of the proposals (by wikimedia)

Gdańsk- Tricity
Poland’s third largest metropoly, an agglomeration of 7 cities (most significant are Gdańsk, Gdynia, Sopot) plans to reconstruct a rail line, that in the pre-WWII-era was connecting the eastern Kaszuby area (inhabitated by Kaszebe- local ethnic minority with different customs and language) with the Gdańsk city centre and Gdańsk main railway station.

Fig. Proposal prepared by local transport economists (source: www.gazeta.pl)

A loop-shaped interurban rail service, called SKM (Polish abbreviation for „rapid urban railway”), is planned on the reconstructed line, that will connect the airport with both Gdynia and Gdańsk. The line to Gdynia exists already, and could be used without massive investments. The Airport- Gdańsk-Wrzeszcz section has to be reconstructed on the preserved rail bed. In recent few months PKP PLK prepared a feasibility study on the issue. The costs amounted to 600 million PLN (Euro 150 million), for which support from central government was promised. Estimated travel time to Gdańsk city centre would be 20 minutes.

An option was examined to connect the airport with the use of tramways, as the new line is currently being constructed in part of the transport corridor to the airport. Recently, Gdańsk authorities supported the idea of introducing a Karlsruhe model (tram-train) on the newly constructed section to the airport. However, no timetable was announced.

This metropoly of 1,1 million inhabitants until very recently was not having an airport except for small facility with runway suitable only for STOL aircraft. This changed recently, runway was extended, new terminal building was constructed in unbelievably short time. Plans exist to connect the airport with the adjacent Łódź Kaliska- Kalisz- Ostrów rail mainline. The distance to terminal amounts approximaltely to one kilometer.
A problem is such that the Kaliska railway station is out-of-the –city-centre. There are financially unrealistic plans to connect two separated railway stations in Łódź by a tunnel section under the city centre. Author recently proposed to the town authorities to use the bypassing rail line „Kolej Obwodowa”. Using this rail line it is possible to obtain attractive travel time ranging from 12 to 15 minutes from the airport to the very city centre (Fabryczna Station), alas with a change of direction at Łódź Widzew Station. Such service would also serve large areas of the agglomeration, such as the eastern parts of the town, such as the Widzew.

Fig. Author’s own proposal of rail link for Łódź Airport and his concept for Łódź SKM suburban rail system

A completely new air-rail link solution was proposed, and is due to be realised. The Central Mainline (CMK), the only one Poland’s „nearly” high-speed line (built with geometry for speeds up to 250 km/h, top speed- 250,1 km/h reached by Pendolino tilting train some decade ago, line currently being maintained to top speeds of up to 160 km/h), connects two of Poland’s largest metropolies, agglomeration of Katowice, also called Silesia (circa 2,4 million inhabitants) and Warsaw (1,6 in the city boundarties, 2,6 in the agglomeration). The line according to plans of PKP PLK connected with Euro2012 will be extended to the airport. The deadline givenwas 2011, but this is unlikely given problems with planning procedures.

The line will use existing rail line passing in the vicinity of the airport terminal in Pyrzowice, then it will use a section of completely new track to enter the Bytom- Katowice rail line in this highly urbanised area.

The Silesian metropoly on the river Odra also plans to connect its airport with the city centre using rail infrastructure instead of slow bus connections. There is an unused rail branch to the airport, that need to be prolonged to the terminal.
The city terminus could be located in the Dworzec Świebodzki, an inner-city rail terminus, currently unused due to diminished rail traffic. The travel time would amount to 10 minutes.
However, no time-table was given, besides, there is little discussion on this issue, local authorities seem not to be interested too much in the idea. As for 2006, land strips were reserved for future rail line by the planning authorities. 2,5 kilometers section of new tracks is needed.

Fig. Proposal of SKM system for Wrocław by author, 2002

This small, but developing agglomeration of 700 thousand inhabitants (of which 150 thousand live within Rzeszów boundaries) developed an idea to connect its centrally located main transport interchange (Rzeszowskie Centrum Komunikacyjne, RCK) with the Rzeszów-Jasionka airport, located northly to the city-centre. There is an increasing, alas small traffic at the local airport. It is hoped that the new air-rail link will allow the airport to be more competetive with the Cracow airport, that already possesses such rail link. The rail link is included in local investment plans. It will use existing line to Kolbuszowa, then a branch to the airport will be reconstructed (after being dismantled in the past). Te task is listed as a part of the Rzeszów- Kolbuszowa rail line modernisation plans, and is relatively well-descriped, compared to for example Wrocław.

Bydgoszcz- Toruń
This conurbation of 700 thousand inhabitants is located on the bend of Vistula river, in central Poland. Plans exist to connect Toruń and Bydgoszcz with interurban rail system, called BiT- city. The szstem will be partially introduced already in December 2007, frequencies willamount to 15 minutes in peak time between Toruń and Bydgoszcz. The SKM line according to various plans would also extend to the airport in Bydgoszcz.
The airport is located adjacent to rail main line, besides there exist a branch line heading towards the terminal. However, some sections of new tracks are required, to allow for seamless journey from the centre to the terminal. Studies were prepared to examine the taks of introducing the SKM system in the agglomeration. However, no details were announced.

Fig. Various concepts for the airport connection in Bydgoszcz

The airport is located 40 kilometers to the north of the city centre. Thus, a rail link was proposed already a decade ago, and is included in various local plans. The airport lies adjacent to the local line Goleniów- Kołobrzeg. A new section of tracks, linking the rail network with the terminal, is needed. No plans were announced to finalise this investment.

Zielona Góra
The agglomeration of 200 thousand (formed together with Sulechów and Nowa Sól) has an underused airport, that lacks larger terminal and ILS. There are plans and EU funds provided to adapt this airport to serve low-cost airlines that already wished to add it to its network of destinations. The airport lies adjacent to Zielona Góra- Poznań mainline, besides it posseses own rail-branch. A rail connection, and an idea of a new terminal building constructed close enough to the rail mainline, togehter with a new station serving the airport, was proposed by the autor to the regional and town authorities. Estimated travel time to Zielona Góra city centre would be approx. 22- 25 minutes.

The agglomeration of ca. 200 thousand inhabitans is the only relativelt large region in Poland without a working airport. Author was convincing local autorities to revive existing military airport in Szczytno-Szymany, 55 kilometers to the south from Olsztyn (that posseses already civil terminal, however much too small for contemporary aircraft, as well as a runway and ILS system). The efforts to transform this airport into a typical regional airport were recently stopped due to political changes. Plans for newly built airports were presented, however the region is sparsely populated, is among the poorest in Poland.
It seems that the only economicaly vital alternative is to transporm the already existing airport into a civil one, and connect it using a rail link with Olsztyn City Centre. There exist rail lines needed on the whole distance, some upgrade is necessary, possibly also a short stretch to connect the new trminal that should be constructed. Estimated travel time would range from 35 to 40 minutes, the rail link would use existing regional rail lines, DMU’s would have to be used.

There exists an airport that once was a popular destination, but ovet three decades it remained unused. EU-funds were secured to transform this unused military airport into a civil airport. There is also an idea to use the existing suburban railway line of infrequent 1000-mm diameter to connect the airport with the centre. The railway line, unused since a decade, could have already been dismantled by poor inhabitants of this pauperised area.

In general, Polish problem seem to be caused by state ownership of railways. Capital needs are large, both for infrastructure investments and rolling stock. There are no cases of successful private capital engagement, but private train operator Arriva won one of the franchises in Kujawsko-Pomorskie (Bydgoszcz-Toruń area) and will serve regional services there starting in December 2007.

Fate of the Kraków- Balice Airport rail link, that is badly-managed, expencive, and has a fatal image in the view of many of its former passengers who often hand problems to be on time due to the general incapability of PKP PR to offer services on time, shows that succesfull rail links should be organised in another way. They could be separate train operators, owning sections of tracks. Such cases of vertical integration exist- SKM and WKD are comunal suburban rail operators who both manage their infrastructure and carry passengers.

Poland needs general change of the way how airport rail services are operated. Progresses in market liberalisation show that a room is being made for private train operators. This gives some prospects for future.

Adam Fularz
Oct. 2007- June 2012

Posted by Adam Phoo on 04:53. Filed under , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0

0 komentarze for Air Rail Developments in Poland

Leave comment

Ostatnie doniesienia

Ostatnie komentarze

Galeria zdjęć