EU readies plans for Ukraine's transition to European railway track
Photo: Depositphotos

The European Union this week published a strategy of integrating the railway networks of Ukraine, Moldova, and the EU, which provides for constructing the 1435 mm track gauge in the two aspiring members of the bloc.

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The European track gauge will be included in the new mainline railway network in Ukraine and Moldova and is supposed to operate in parallel with the current 1520 mm network on two fundamental principles:

  • The 1435 mm gauge will be designed for high-speed traffic, while the 1520 mm gauge will serve slower traffic
  • The 1435 mm mainline network will be developed in stages, from western to eastern regions

The EU’s strategy defines three main stages:

  • Construction of the 1435 mm European gauge from the border with Poland to Lviv and in Moldova from Chisinau to the border with Romania
  • Construction of the 1435 mm gauge between Lviv and Kyiv, and the establishment of a second corridor in northern Ukraine, from Poland to Kyiv and from Lviv to the city of Chop
  • Extending the European railway from Kyiv eastwards to Kharkiv and Dnipro, as well as expanding the network in western and southern Ukraine, from Poland to Lviv, from Lviv to the border with Romania, and from Odesa to Chisinau

The plan, estimated to cost about EUR 11.5 billion, might in the future be extended to such major Ukrainian cities as Zaporizhzhia, Kherson, Mykolaiv, Mariupol, Donetsk, Luhansk, and Sevastopol.

"Experience shows that preparation and implementation of large infrastructure projects takes a significant amount of time. Moreover, in the project preparation phase there are often unexpected delays due to unforeseeable events, discontinuities in the geopolitical or socio-economic contexts, problems with the procedures, etc.," the EU plan reads.

"Hence, the recommendation is to start the preparation of all the projects for the backbone network as soon as possible, including those listed in priority III, provided enough funds and capacity are available."

In Ukraine's neighbouring EU countries, the railway track gauge is 1435 mm, while Ukraine uses a wider gauge of 1520 mm.

In May, the Ukrainian government announced it plans to switch to the European gauge standard, starting with major railway junctions and large cities.