The European Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB) have published a study that proposes improving the rail links between Poland and Ukraine and between Romania and Moldova by building a railway with a track gauge of 1435 mm from Kraków to Lviv, the CFTS portal reports.

"Building the first EU rail gauge in Ukraine and Moldova, linking their railways with Poland and Romania, will bring them closer to the EU single market," European Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean said.

"Extending the standard gauge of the European railway network to Ukraine and Moldova will facilitate the movement of goods and services, helping the two countries to integrate more quickly into the EU market and accelerating Ukraine’s post-war recovery. Developing modern transport links is a way for us to foster the region’s economic growth and provide steadfast support to Ukraine and Moldova on their paths to EU integration," EIB Vice-President Teresa Czerwińska, who is responsible for the bank’s operations in Ukraine and Moldova, said.

Taking into account likely costs, expected demand, and line capacity considerations, the study suggests as a first step to establish a European track gauge connection from Kraków/Katowice (Poland) to Lviv (Ukraine), as well as from Iasi (Romania) to Chisinau (Moldova).

The study also assesses how the new standard-gauge lines in Ukraine and Moldova would work with the network elsewhere in these countries, which will continue to use the broad (1520 mm) gauge.

"Our European colleagues’ first conclusions regarding the development of a 1435-mm network (of European-gauge rail tracks) have been published. A team at the EIB’s technical advisory service (JASPERS) initially studied the Kraków - Lviv - Chernivtsi - Chisinau route but later realized that it was necessary to consider developing an entire network of European European-gauge rail tracks in Ukraine and Moldova, virtually parallel to 1520-mm railway tracks. At the same time, the design of certain 1435-mm railway sections on the territory of Ukraine is already underway, particularly the Kovel - Yahodyn (with the support of the EIB), Rava-Ruska - Briukhovychi/Lviv (EU), Mostyska - Sknyliv (state budget) and Chop - Uzhhorod (state budget, CEF) sections. Projects from the above indicative plan are expected to be eligible for grant co-financing from EU funds in the future," said Volodymyr Shemaiev, director of the Office of International Projects at the Ukrainian Railways joint-stock company (Ukrzaliznytsia).

As reported previously, a pre-feasibility study for the extension of the 1435-millimeter-gauge rail network from the European Union to Ukraine and Moldova, which JASPERS prepared, was published in November 2022. Experts assessed the possibility of laying 1435-mm-gauge tracks "through the territories of Ukraine and Moldova along the presumed corridor Kraków - Mostyska-2 -Lviv - Vadul Siret - Chisinau."