The Ukrainian political and transport establishment continues to dream of a high-speed railway. In March 2021, President Volodymyr Zelenskyi and later the heads of the Ukrainian Ministry of Infrastructure and the Ukrainian Railways joint-stock company (Ukrzaliznytsia) announced a project to build a high-speed railway. It was supposed to be based on European-gauge tracks, on which trains would travel at speeds of up to 250 km/h. The plan was to build it in phases, with the first phase to be built from the Ukrainian-Polish border to Lviv and the second from Lviv to Kyiv. Many questions immediately arose regarding the project’s urgent feasibility and sources of funding.

In February last year, the heads of the Ukrainian and Polish transport ministries agreed to join forces to launch a high-speed rail link between Warsaw and Kyiv and planned to present it at the European Union level. However, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has hindered the plans.

The Poles also have their own big dream, about which they are holding many discussions. It involves a mega-airport project called the Central Communication Port (Centralny Port Komunikacyjny or CPK), which will be built between Warsaw and Łódź. One of the key elements of the project is the construction of a network of high-speed railways (on which trains will travel at speeds of up to 350 km/h), which will initially link the future airport with Warsaw and Łódź and later link Łódź with Poznań, Wrocław, etc. The project also includes the construction of 10 high-speed railway lines with a total length of almost 2,000 kilometers. The state-owned CPK company is authorized to design and build all the new transport infrastructure.

On 19 January, this company and Ukrzaliznytsia signed an agreement on cooperation on the construction of new railway infrastructure, including a high-speed railway. The aim of the agreement is to jointly prepare a feasibility study for a proposed railway line between Poland and Ukraine along the Warsaw - Lviv - Kyiv route.

The CFTS portal discussed the details of the agreement with Volodymyr Shemaev, the director of Ukrzaliznytsia’s Office of International Projects, who signed the document on behalf of Ukrzaliznytsia.

Is the signed document a memorandum or a contract/agreement?

It is a memorandum of understanding.

Does it involve the work on the feasibility study but not the construction work itself?

This document aims primarily at cooperation between the two parties on the development of new cross-border railway lines of the standard gauge (1435 mm), including a high-speed railway with a maximum speed of up to 250 km/h.

The first phase provides for the conduct of a feasibility study for a high-speed railway along the Warsaw - Lublin - Lviv corridor, with a more detailed feasibility study for the Zamość - Polish-Ukrainian border - Lviv section with a high-level analysis of the options for a branch line to Kyiv.

Secondly, at the request of Ukrzaliznytsia, CPK will submit its recommendations on the design and technical standards for the high-speed traffic and passenger transport models.

Who will finance the feasibility study, and how much will it cost?

In accordance with the previous agreements, the CPK company will finance the feasibility study, with possible co-financing by the European Union. We estimate the approximate cost of the work on the Ukrainian part at EUR 3.2 million.

What is the approximate route of the future railway?

According to CPK’s plans, the route on the territory of Poland is Warsaw - Lublin - Zamość and further to Lviv. The route will probably pass through Rava-Ruska in Ukraine. The route to Lviv should be determined based on the results of the feasibility study.

Preliminarily, what is the breakdown of the phases of construction (to Lviv and Kyiv) by year?

The feasibility study will take up to 2 years. The construction work to Lviv will take 3–5 years, depending on the option (the period can be shortened significantly if the existing tracks are converted). Subsequently, it will be determined by the results of the feasibility study.


How much money (at least approximately) will the European Union need to allocate for the construction of such a line?

According to various estimates, the construction of 1 kilometer of a railway line with a speed of 200-250 km/h can vary from EUR 2 to EUR 5 million per kilometer. The cost can be higher or lower, depending on the complexity.

How appropriate is it to sign anything with CPK, which has not yet implemented the project for which it was established?

CPK is designated as the only entity that can place orders for the development of high-speed railways and airports in Poland. The company is already starting its first construction project in Poland this year. In addition, documentation, standards, etc. have been prepared.