Cross-border train services set to improve thanks to rail line upgrade
Upgrading a section of railway line between Marijampole and Kazlu Ruda in central Lithuania makes it possible for goods and passengers to move across neighbouring Member State-borders without the need to change trains.
The project calls for the construction of 24 km of 1 435 mm gauge railway track and the reconstruction of 26 km of existing 1 520 mm gauge track. The new gauge will allow the Lithuanian railway system to be integrated more efficiently into the wider European railway transport system. In particular, it makes it possible for people and freight traffic to move to and from Poland without costly and time consuming delays to change trains.
New interoperable services should attract more people and businesses to use the railways. In turn, this should bring some relief to the local road network, especially the Via Baltica which has seen a huge increase in use since Lithuania joined the European Union. This has resulted in high accident rates and congestion by heavy goods vehicles which use the road to travel from Lithuania and into Poland.
Average travel times for freight trains using the new line should be substantially reduced, which should increase rail’s share of local goods traffic by 20 %. In addition, international passengers are now more likely to choose rail. For example, a seamless, change-free journey looks set to significantly reduce the nine-hour journey time from Vilnius to Warsaw.
The upgrade also promise to improve capacity along the route and deliver better technical specifications. Both lines provide for maximum passenger train speeds of 120 km/h and 80 km/h for freight services, along with a design that can cope with maximum axel weights of 22.5 tonnes. The project’s construction programme also calls for the reconstruction of two railway bridges over the Sasne and Pilve rivers, along with the modernisation of the Vincai and Kazlu Ruda railway stations.
This project is one stage of a wider five-stage scheme named “Rail Baltica”, which provides a new 1 435 mm gauge railway connection between Kaunas and the Polish border. As such, the scheme is an integral part of the EU’s TEN-T Corridor 1 which crosses Lithuania in a north-south direction. The EU is investing billions of Euros through the TEN-T programme to improve transport infrastructures across Europe. The goal is to make it easier for people and goods to move in and between Member States.
Total investment and EU funding
Total investment for the project “Reconstruction of existing railway section Marijampole-Kazlu Ruda” is EUR 52 111 302, of which the EU’s Cohesion Fund is contributing EUR 44 098 286 from the Operational Programme “Economic Growth” for the 2007 to 2013 programming period. Work falls under the priority “Development of trans-European Transport Networks”.