16 billion euros set aside for rail transport in Poland

Poland will be the biggest beneficiary of the upcoming EU financial perspective for 2021–2027. Around 170 billion euros is expected to be dedicated to the country. In total, 16 billion euros has been set aside for the development of rail transport. This is concluded in the Polish Railway Market 2020-2021 report, prepared by Jana Pieriegud and commissioned by the Economic and Commercial Department of the Dutch Embassy in Poland.

The report presents the possibilities for railway industry investors, which according to Pieriegud are numerous. Although the EU funds are still to be approved by the European Commission, the coming financial period will see a significant increase in EU funds for the Polish railway market. Pieriegud will present the report at the RailFreight Summit in Lodz, which starts tomorrow. The report will be made available by the Dutch Embassy for visitors to the summit.

“The plans for the next few years to expand and modernise the rail infrastructure are very ambitious”, says Sanne Kaasjager, Economic Counsellor at the Dutch Embassy. At the summit, he hopes to help connect foreign companies to Polish rail freight companies and make them aware of the huge opportunities. For the Dutch market participants a special arrangement has been made. “The Ambassador of the Netherlands will be there in person to meet up with Dutch companies and to underline the importance the Dutch government attaches to the rail freight sector.”

Which funds?

The EU budget consists of the typical Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF) and the new EU Recovery Funds, of which Poland is the third-largest beneficiary. The most important element of this instrument is the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), intended to provide an investment boost in the first years of the financial perspective to support economic recovery after the COVID-19 epidemic. The funds from the RRF will be used towards the cost of energy transition, low-carbon transport, and digitalisation.

The railway projects will be co-funded by the RRF, the National Recovery Plan (KPO) and the Cohesion Fund (CF), explains the report. “This includes the European Funds for Infrastructure, Climate and Environment Programme (EFICE) and Regional Operational Programmes (ROPs). Railway infrastructure upgrading along the TEN-T Core Network Corridors and Railway Freight Corridors (RFC5 Baltic – Adriatic Corridor; RFC8 North Sea – Baltic Corridor, and RFC11 Amber Corridor) will be also supported by the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF 2.0).”

High demand

Poland’s economic forecasts are favourable, the report explains. Regional and local authorities have indicated a significant demand for rail investments. Masovia and the Lesser Poland Voivodeships declare the highest demand for passenger rolling stock.

Regional authorities and passenger railway operators are particularly interested in hybrid and hydrogen-powered multiple units, and double-decker units for push-pull trains. Freight operators intend to purchase electric locomotives equipped with on-board European Train Control System (ETCS), and intermodal platforms.

The entire envisaged investment in railway infrastructure totals about 14.3 billion euros. This is 1.1 billion euros in passenger rolling stock and 550 million euros in freight locomotives and wagons.

Investments by freight operators

A survey carried out by the Polish Office of Rail Transport (UTK) in 2020 showed that 80 per cent of freight operators declared that they would purchase locomotives in the following years. Another 60 per cent would puchase freight cars. A third of them are going to invest in IT systems, and a quarter of them in transshipment terminals. There is significantly less interest in train control-command and signalling systems, including ERMTS.

Despite the need to renew the locomotive fleet, freight operators are only planning limited purchases of new units. They most often decide to lease it or modernise the existing rolling stock. One of the reasons for this approach is the low utilisation efficiency of rolling stock due to the continuous railway lines upgrading, and a large number of speed limits on the network and detours.

Delay ERTMS

The delay in the implementation of the ERTMS trackside infrastructure programme causes railway operators to postpone their investments in new TSI-compliant rolling stock. At the end of 2020, 276 locomotives (of which 30 passenger electric, 155 freight electric and 91 freight diesel) and 317 multiple units equipped with on-board ETCS systems were in operation. In the next five years, freight operators plan to purchase about 100 new locomotives equipped with the ETCS, while passenger operators planned for as many as 390 units.

In the case of freight wagons, the greatest demand is expected for open wagons and intermodal platforms. In order to support the development of sustainable transport, about 185 million euros will be secured within the National Recovery Plan for intermodal transport development, including the purchase of rolling stock and construction of transshipment terminals. The total investments of freight operators in new rolling stock until 2027 is estimated at approx. PLN 2.5 billion (ca. EUR 0.55 billion).

RailFreight Summit in Lodz

The RailFreight Summit in Lodz takes place on Wednesday 1 September and Thursday 2 September. Physical tickets are as good as sold out, but it is still possible to attend the event with an online ticket.

Author: Majorie van Leijen

Majorie van Leijen is editor of RailFreight.com, online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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