It has been a really effective year for the Solidarity Transport Hub. We have achieved key processes, milestones and targets. We have acted at every level — local, national or international. We have consistently consulted and made arrangements with residents, local authorities, as well as the aviation, railway, design, construction industries and foreign partners, among others. All this to bring us closer to the most important date of our project — turning the first shovelful of soil in 2023.
10. We are finalising environmental and field surveys at the airport
Before the “first shovelful of soil” is turned, the characteristics of the area of the future investment must be thoroughly examined in terms of the natural environment, site topography and hydrological conditions.
Throughout the year, in an area covering a total of approx. 1,055 square kilometres, experts carried out environmental observations and studied the condition of the land on which the Solidarity Airport and the associated infrastructure will be located. Surveys were conducted of botanical habitats, invertebrates, amphibians, birds and terrestrial mammals, among others. Bat observations were carried out at night.
In addition, experts examined the quality of surface water, carried out vibration measurements along existing and planned railway lines, conducted landscape analysis and verified data on the location of monuments and culturally valuable sites.
9. We have secured record EU funding for the STH
The European Commission granted us over PLN 108 million from the CEF Reflow pool. We have received the largest co-financing across the Union and more than half of the subsidies for projects from Poland. The Commission rated the STH applications the highest from all submitted Polish projects, recommending the full amount of support requested by the company. The funds raised will be used for the building permit design of a tunnel for the High Speed Railway in Łódź and preparatory works for the construction of the line between Warsaw, Sieradz and Poznań.
In connection with the announcement of the call for the so-called CEF 2 (from the new EU perspective for 2021–2027), the STH company is preparing to apply for funding for projects with a total value of approx. PLN 4.4 billion. Taking into account the value of co-financing, the amount of subsidies may amount to approx. PLN 3 billion.
8. We have started the designing of the High Speed Railway tunnel in Łódź
At the end of November, we signed a contract for the design of the 4-kilometre-long High Speed Railway tunnel — west of the Łódź Fabryczna station. It is the first of the STH investments to enter the design phase and to have an environmental decision. The signed contract provides for the development of the building permit design and the necessary studies and administrative decisions for the tunnel and the railway line. For this purpose, the STH company received approx. PLN 60 million from the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). The tunnel is to be put into service in 2027.
The underground railway crossing in Łódź will be an element of the so-called spoke No 9, i.e. a new railway route from Warsaw through the STH, Łódź and Sieradz, and further to Wrocław and Poznań (it is also called the “letter Y” because of its shape).In Łódź, high-speed trains will stop only on the Łódź Fabryczna station. The tunnel’s surface exit is planned southwest of Łódź Kaliska, in the vicinity of the Retkinia housing estate and the existing railway line No 14.
7. We bought our first properties under the Voluntary Acquisition Programme
The past year has seen the purchase of land for a future airport under the Voluntary Acquisition Programme. We have bought the first properties — all the plots bought are in an area of about 75 square kilometres, covered by the so-called area regulation.
Further transactions are being processed and more residents are signing up to participate in the Voluntary Acquisition Programme. As part of this process, independent valuers carry out appropriate valuations. So far, more than 200 owners have signed up for the Programme.
In September, we expanded the package of facilities for parties concerned — including the assistance of an individual administrator, organisation and financing of the move, financing of legal services, the possibility of using the property after the transaction or support in finding a new place to work and live.
6. We have partnered with a Strategic Advisor – Seoul Incheon Airport
The beginning of 2021 brought a Polish–Korean co-operation agreement and a strategic consultancy contract between the STH and the Seoul Incheon Airport. The Korean airport management company has agreed to share the knowledge and experience needed to plan and design the Solidarity Transport Hub.
Throughout the past year, experts from the South Korea were working — at the STH headquarters and remotely – as part of an integrated team. Incheon representatives provided a number of commissioned studies and analyses, sharing the knowledge, know-how and experience gained during the design and construction of the Seoul hub. These experiences address issues such as port operational management, airport-rail integration, project phasing, Airport City development, innovation approach or risk management. Incheon experts were also involved in providing opinions on key documentation, such as air traffic forecasts and the preferred location.
Incheon is the main international airport of South Korea and one of the world’s best hub airports. It is ranked fourth in the current Skytrax ranking. In 2019 — before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic — Incheon handled over 71 million passengers and 2.7 million tonnes of cargo. This year — during the COVID-19 downturn — the government of the Republic of Korea and IIAC company which manages the Incheon Airport approved the fourth phase of extension of this airport. The multi-annual investment programme calls for the equivalent of $5.4 billion to be invested in Incheon by the end of 2025 to build a fourth runway and expand Terminal 2, among others.
5. We have selected a Master Planner for the Solidarity Transport Hub
We have selected a contractor for the Master Plan, a study that will serve as a source of specialised data such as air traffic forecasts, construction process phasing, project definition documentation. It will be prepared by Arup Polska, a member of the British Arup Group.
While the contractor was being selected, works were already underway on the Master Plan, which the company carried out with its own resources and together with external consultants already contracted. Following the signing of the contract with Arup Polska, the results of the work done to date, including some planning work such as the delimitation of the airport and air traffic forecasts obtained from IATA taking into account the COVID-19 effect, among others, were provided to the contractor.
UK-based engineering and design group, Arup, has international experience in airport projects. The company’s global experience includes work at London Heathrow, Copenhagen Kastrup, San Francisco, Toronto Pearson, Chubu Centrair (in Japan), Beijing International and Hong Kong airports.
4. We announced record procedures for the design of the STH railway investments
In October, the Solidarity Transport Hub company announced the largest framework procedure in Europe for the design documentation for the STH railway programme. The estimated value of the works is more than PLN 7 billion net.
The purpose of the framework agreement formula is to select a group of contractors to whom the STH company will be able to commission design tasks in simplified executory procedures over the following years.
The framework agreement will enable more efficient and quick selection of contractors for the design works in the subsequent simplified executory contracts. It also includes a transparent programme for the next two EU perspectives (until 2034) and executory procedures without excessive formalities.
The framework procedure concerns a total of 29 projects divided into 82 sections, which make up almost 1,800 km of the so-called spokes, i.e. new railway lines to be completed by STH by the end of 2034. Among them there will be HSR sections with a design speed of up to 350 km/h.
3. We have started feasibility studies for about 1,000 km of new lines
The last few months have been a landmark in the STH Railway Program. We have concluded a total of eight multi-million contracts for feasibility studies (FS). Preparatory works are underway on railway sections with a total length of almost 1,000 kilometres.
The contracts signed for the feasibility studies concern the following sections:
- Warsaw – Łódź (ok. 140 km),
- Łódź – Wrocław (ok. 200 km),
- Żarów – Wałbrzych – state border (ok. 60 km),
- Katowice – Ostrava (ok. 75 km),
- Łętownia – Rzeszów (ok. 40 km),
- Zamość – Bełżec (ok. 90 km),
- Ostrołęka – Łomża – Giżycko (ok. 140 km),
- STH Junction (ok. 200 km).
The so-called FS will, among others, indicate recommended routes for new railway lines. The contractors will also provide traffic forecasts, analyses e.g. technical, environmental and multi-criteria analyses.
At the first stage, the trains between Warsaw and Łódź will run at a speed of up to 250 km/h. The STH company’s design assumptions will enable it to increase in the future up to 350 km/h — if required. Thanks to this investment, passengers will arrive at the new airport: from Warsaw in approx. 15 minutes, from Łódź in approx. half an hour, and from Warsaw to Łódź in approx. 45 minutes (almost twice as fast as currently).
The Warsaw–Łódź section will be extended to Wrocław, and eventually also to Poznań. This will create a high-speed rail link, the concept of which is called the “letter Y” because of its shape. These two lines form the first and most important part of the High Speed Rail system in Poland.
The majority of the sections “commissioned” in 2021 primarily serve to complement the national rail network and thus integrate many cities and areas with the rail network. The Katowice–Ostrava section will allow the trains to reach Jastrzębie-Zdrój with its 90-thousand population, which is today the largest city in Poland without rail access. The Zamość–Bełżec rail route will improve transport links in eastern Poland. Tomaszów Lubelski and Bełżec will be connected to the railway network and Zamość and Krasnystaw — to the long-distance connections’ network. And thanks to the construction of the Ostrołęka–Łomża–Giżycko section, Łomża, Kolno and Orzysz will be connected to the long-distance passenger transport network. The first of these cities — Łomża — has been waiting for passenger trains since 1993.
2. We have announced the preferred site for the Solidarity Transport Hub
As announced in 2021, we achieved another milestone in the work on the Solidarity Airport. In mid-December, we announced the preferred site for the airport, covering the area of approx. 41 square kilometres in three municipalities: Baranów, Teresin and Wiskitki. In this area there are about 3,800 plots with about 520 residential buildings.
The site was chosen to ensure optimum operational parameters, while avoiding interference with the most populated areas and bypassing the places that are important for local communities, such as churches, cemeteries and monuments. The presented material will be used for further analyses, while the exact location within the investor option will be delineated in the documentation for the application for an environmental permit.
1. We signed a joint investment agreement with the government of the South Korea
2021 was full of activities with foreign partners. The most important of these was the signing in December of a Cooperation Agreement with representatives of the Incheon Airport and the South Korea, under which the Koreans announced their capital exposure to the Polish project. The Agreement envisages activities towards a joint venture in which the Koreans are to take a minority stake.
In January, a Polish-British working group was launched to exchange information and co-operate on an ongoing basis at the level of ministries, government agencies and business. Both sides share their experience and investment know-how.
We also continued our co-operation with the French railways SNCF, which is subsidised by the European Commission. Experts from STH took part in a study visit to France, during which they visited the Traffic Surveillance Centre and met with experts from L’infrapôle LGV Sud Est Européen, the infrastructure maintenance management unit for the South East region of France.
In addition, in May, representatives of the Polish and Spanish governments concluded an Agreement on Co-operation on the STH project. The document provides for co-operation between both countries, which will mainly concern the development of the High-Speed Rail in Poland. Spain is one of the world leaders in the field of development and management of the high-speed railway system, and thanks to the co-operation undertaken, it is a source of experience and know-how in this field, which supports the work on HSR in Poland.