Deal for standard gauge to Ukraine to be signed this month
Poland and Ukraine will ink a deal for the extension of the standard gauge up to Kiyv in June. The difference in gauge between the two countries is a major bottleneck when it comes to using the rail.
The plan for a new deal to be signed this month was announced by Jadwiga Emilewicz, the Polish official in charge of Polish-Ukrainian development cooperation, as Reuters mentioned. The issue of implementing standard gauge in Ukraine has become increasingly concrete since October when CER amended the TEN-T proposal to extend four corridors to Ukraine and Moldova.
Not long after that, the European Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB) launched a pre-feasibility study. Before then, the main proposals revolved around extending the broad gauge from Ukraine into Poland and Europe. For example, there was the idea of creating a broad-gauge railway between Kosice and Vienna. However, the project was dropped in May 2022 due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Gauge difference may not be the main issue
Despite the difference in gauge being a significant bottleneck, not everyone thinks that it is the main obstacle. Tadeusz Syryjczyk, partner at the Transport Consultants Group, said that territorial limitations of the operator, customs procedures, and power systems are the hurdles that currently exist. “The apparent difference in track gauge is not the only one and by no means the most time-consuming to overcome”, he argued.