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CPK receives positive environmental decision: green light to start building

The Regional Director for Environmental Protection in Warsaw issued an environmental decision for building the airport and the railway node of Centralny Port Komunikacyjny. The company is now free to apply for a location decision and then a building permit. “Our project meets the national and European environmental standards. We are happy that our work has been positively assessed by the Regional Directorate for Environmental Protection,” says Mikołaj Wild, CEO of Centralny Port Komunikacyjny sp. z o.o.

Receiving the decision from the Regional Directorate for Environmental Protection (RDOŚ) in Warsaw in mid-2023 enables the company to stick to its ambitious programme. The Minister of Infrastructure approved the General Plan for CPK in June, and the company accepted the concept project for the airport and the railway station.

The environmental decision issued by RDOŚ in Warsaw means a green light for building CPK with respect towards the people and the environment. Our goal is to carry out the project in a manner that is optimal for the region. A promise of a building permit from the Civil Aviation Authority is still possible in July. This is going to make it possible to apply to the voivode for the location decision. The next step will be an application for a building permit

emphasises the Deputy Minister for Funds and Regional Policy Marcin Horała, Government Plenipotentiary for CPK.

The environmental decision covers the passenger terminal, buildings and facilities supporting the operation of the airport, air traffic control tower, runways and taxiways, aprons, rail and road nodes, as well as the associated infrastructure, such as hotels, commercial buildings and car parks. It additionally allows the developer to remove trees and shrubs, and carry out geological works and the required archaeological and maintenance tests.

We began environmental testing in January 2021. The results were taken into account on an ongoing basis in the development of the airport master plan. I would like to thank the team that developed the extensive environmental report and made sure that the impact of our investment on the environment is effectively reduced. Today’s decision proves that even when it comes to such complex developments as CPK, it is possible to maintain a very fast work pace, without compromises in terms of quality

emphasises Mikołaj Wild, CEO of Centralny Port Komunikacyjny sp. z o.o.

The environmental report for CPK, forwarded to RDOŚ in October 2022, was the basis for applying for the decision and had around 20,000 pages with appendices. The report is a result of many months of environmental research by the team, i.e. botanists, ichthyologists, ornithologists, herpetologists, chiropterologists, acousticians, land surveyors and geologists. The environmental decision has over 350 pages.

The citizens were able to submit their comments on the report as part of public participation. As a result, RDOŚ in Warsaw received several hundred submissions – more than a thousand questions and applications in total, which the Regional Director addressed in the decision on environmental conditions.

The CPK project moved from the planning stage to designing and building. Advanced design works for the passenger terminal and the railway station are being conducted for CPK by the British consortium Foster + Partners as the master architect (the concept design is finished, and the construction design is in progress).

At the same time, the process of selecting a strategic partner for the planned CPK airport, i.e. a minority shareholder in the airport company that will be responsible for the construction and management of the airport, is underway. The State Treasury is going to keep at least 51% of shares in the company. There are now only three foreign investors on the shortlist – each with vast experience and an established global position.

The first construction preparations have already been underway on a large scale since the beginning of the year: demolition, relocation and geological drilling. According to the schedule, the first stage of the CPK airport, that is, two parallel runways and infrastructure to handle 40 million passengers per year, is expected to be commissioned in 2028.

One of the most important objectives of the three-year agreement is the development of new cross-border connections on the European 1435 mm gauge, in particular the construction of a high-speed railway line.

The document provides for the joint preparation of a feasibility study for the planned new railway lines between Poland and Ukraine. It identifies the construction of a HSR line on the Warsaw–Lviv–Kiev route (an extension of CPK railway spoke no. 5 to Lviv, and ultimately to Kiev), with an assumed maximum operating speed of 250 km/h. Therefore, CPK has declared its readiness to exchange knowledge and experience, and to transfer its technical standards of the HSR, as well as the Passenger Transport Model.

A modern, high-capacity and efficient infrastructure is a key element for safety in the Three Seas region. In the long term, the development of transport infrastructure will be a very important element in the reconstruction of Ukraine

says Mark Brzezinski, US Ambassador to Poland.

This is a historic moment. Together with Ukrainian Railways, we are starting joint work on the Warsaw-Lviv-Kiev HSR line. The shortest route from Ukraine to the EU goes through Poland and CPK

says Mikołaj Wild, CEO of CPK.

Today’s agreement aims to improve railway links between Ukraine, Poland and the EU, facilitate passenger traffic, improve economic exchange and strengthen the safety of our transport corridors. I hope that cooperation with the CPK will bring us closer to the construction of the first HSR with a European gauge and will be an important step towards Ukraine’s integration with the EU

says Volodymyr Shemaev, Director of the Office of International Projects of Ukrainian Railways.

The agreement provides for the creation of a working group to fulfil the objectives of the signed agreement through workshops, joint research, exchange of documentation and experience.

Centralny Port Komunikacyjny and Ukrainian Railways will jointly seek opportunities to obtain EU funding for the planned lines. EU standards for the design, construction and maintenance of railway infrastructure, including signalling and GSM-R, are to be implemented as part of the partnership. In the future, both parties also agreed to jointly develop a management model for the constructed lines.

According to the investor schedules, by 2028, the time of the planned launch of the first stage of the CPK airport, the first section of the Warsaw – Łódź HSR being planned today by CPK should already be operational, as well as the completion of modernisation of the Rail Baltica route by PKP PLK from the Lithuanian border via Białystok to Warsaw.

According to the plan by 2030 the whole Rail Baltica cross-border corridor should be completed in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania: from Tallinn via Riga and Kaunas (with a connection to Vilnius) to the Polish border. The first sections of Rail Baltica railway lines are planned to be launched starting 2027. The assumption is that a section of the V4 HSR line between Prague, Brno, Bratislava and Budapest will also be built at this time. In the following years, next sections from Poland will be connected to the V4 railway line: Katowice-Ostrava and so-called Małopolska-Silesian Node.

The Three Seas Region is one of the fastest growing areas in Europe. Over the past 20 years, the region’s GDP has grown almost twice as fast as the ‘original EU‘, These rail projects are tailored to the needs of individual countries and the Three Seas region as a whole. The new HSR network, which is the CPK railway investment, together with other projects in the region such as Rail Baltica and V4, will form the future railway backbone of the Three Seas Region and an important part of European TEN-T transport network

says the Deputy Minister for Funds and Regional Policy, Marcin Horała, the government’s plenipotentiary for CPK.

Thanks to joint investments, there will be, for example, a Tallinn – Warsaw – Katowice Budapest connection (1,700 km) as well as Tallinn Warsaw – Wrocław – Prague (1,500 km, including 400 km along CPK’s  “spoke” no. 9).

At the RDD 2023 conference, the CPK, Rail Baltica global project coordinator RB Rail AS and Správa železnic covering the three most advanced projects in the region signed a Memorandum of Understanding that provides for mutual cooperation between the projects.

This is the unique, one-of-a-kind time in our common history when, functioning together in the region, we can create an unrivaled rail transportation offering. We are drawing lessons from HSR investments in the West. As a result, our projects can bring about an economic domino effect, giving a boost to other industries and sectors

says Mikołaj Wild, CEO of CPK.

Considering the scale and impact of the Rail Baltica Global project not only in the Baltic states, but also the whole Europe, we must recognize benefits and use the full potential from strengthening cooperation with other megaprojects. We have already made significant progress by establishing regular cooperation formats with Centralny Port Komunikacyjny, and will be honoured to now extend the cooperation also with the national railway infrastructure manager in the Czech Republic

says Agnis Driksna, CEO of RB Rail AS.

The cooperation between railway infrastructure managers in the region is viewed by Správa železnic as a cornerstone for future rapid development in the 3Seas area. Faster travel between hubs, better service quality to passengers, improved safety as well as alleviating capacity on conventional rail for freight seem to be the major benefits that will boost economic growth and multi-lateral relationships across the region. Given the long term nature of these projects we understand we must not miss this crucial momentum to invest now in the future, as the positive benefits will be enormous not only for our countries but also for the whole of Europe

emphasises Radek Čech, Director International Affairs Dept. of Správa železnic.

The project delivery organisations have the support of international allies, who point out that the planned infrastructure will be dual-use, that is civil-military.

Current events have shown that reliable and resilient rail infrastructure is so incredibly important for the safety and security of the region.  An investment in this infrastructure is an investment into the long-term security of the region.  It is just as important as our collaboration on national security, energy security, and defense

says Mark Brzezinski, US Ambassador to Poland.

Rail Baltica and the CPK railway projects are important to integrate the region more closely into the EU’s transport network and achieve environmental benefits by shifting traffic to rail

added Catherine Trautmann, The European Coordinator for the NSB Corridor.

The planned HSR system in the Three Seas Region area will be cost-effective, as confirmed by a report presented at Railway Direction Days by Steer, an international consultancy which performs analyses for the European Commission.

The estimated total cost of the entire HSR network in the Three Seas Region is around €60 billion. The authors of the report estimated that the total value of the benefits in the HSR network for the Three Seas Region countries would be more than €120 billion. This means that, in the long term, the new high-speed railway network will generate twice the value than its initial cost. According to Steer’s calculations, €55 billion represent passenger journey time savings and €57 billion are the other benefits of the project, including, among others, those resulting from a decrease in transportation accidents.

The good news for passengers is that there will be significant shortening of travel times, such as on the Łódź – Wrocław section, where the journey will be shortened from 3 hours to about 1 hour. From Warsaw: travelling to Vilnius will take 4 hours (currently 9 hours), to Riga 5 hours (today there is no such direct connection by train, and the travel time by bus takes more than 8 hours), to Ostrava less than 2 hours (currently 4.5 hours) and to Budapest 5.5 hours (currently 11.5 hours).

It will take approximately two hours to get from Prague to Vienna and Bratislava, currently close to 4.5 hours, while the journey to Budapest from the Czech capital will be reduced to 3.5 hours (from the current 7 hours). From Vilnius passengers will reach Tallinn in approximately 3.5 hours (currently it takes more than 8 hours), and Riga will be reached in in less than 2 hours (from the current over 4 hours).

According to Steer’s calculations, the most busiest sections will be: Warsaw – Łódź in Poland, Brno – Jihlavain the Czech Republic and Budapest – Gyor in Hungary. Each will carry between 14 and 18 million passengers a year.

Planning and design work is well advanced. For example in Poland feasibility studies are already being developed for 1500 km of the 2000 km planned CPK so called spokes, including a 140 km section of the HSR between Warsaw and Łódź (the preparatory construction work should start in the second half of this year) and a 200 km section between Łódź and Wrocław.

In the Baltics more than 640 out of 870 km total corridor is under design and large-scale constructions are approaching. E.g. in  Latvia, a tender for construction works for a 200 km section of the Rail Baltica railway line is underway, as well as RB Rail AS has launched an electrification subsystem design and build tender for the electrification of entire 870 km Rail Baltica network. Meanwhile the Czech Republic is preparing design documentation for, among other things, the section between Ostrava and Przerov.

Ultimately, the HSR rail system will be able to cover all the Three Seas Region countries and be ready for further development within Ukraine (extension of CPK ‘spoke’ no. 5 to Lviv and ultimately to Kiev). The development of the Poland-Ukraine HSR connection is part of the reconstruction plan for this country and the concept of extending the TEN-T corridors beyond Poland’s eastern border.