Railway upgrade offers improved train services across borders
Reconstructing a railway line running from Kazlu Ruda to Kaunas in central Lithuania makes it possible for services to run through the country and on to Poland without the need to change trains. As well as bringing track gauge into line with neighbouring countries, the work increases service capacity while upgrading technical specifications.
The project is for the construction of 37 km of 1 435 mm gauge rail track and the reconstruction of 30 km of existing 1 520 mm track. The new gauge will allow the Lithuanian railway system to be integrated more efficiently into the wider European railway transport system.
Enabling passengers and freight to travel to and from Lithuania without the need to change trains looks set to save time and money. By 2018, the project is expected to help increase rail’s share of local freight traffic by 20 %, which will also help cut greenhouse gas emissions generated by more polluting road traffic. For business travellers, the new track contributes to shortening journey times – especially on the route between Vilnius and Warsaw.
Making train travel more attractive and competitive should take pressure off the local road network, which has seen a huge increase in use since Lithuania joined the European Union. This situation has lead to congestion and a rise in accident rates on the Via Baltica road between Lithuania and Poland.
The new and upgraded tracks allow for maximum speeds of 120 km/h for passenger trains and 80 km/h for freight trains, along with a maximum axel load of 22.5 tonnes. In addition, work includes reconstruction of railway bridges over five rivers and the modernisation of railway stations at Jure, Mauruciai, Jiesia and Kaunas. Various platforms, pedestrian walkways, road crossing, culverts and animal crossing are built or revamped as part of the programme of works.
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 Kazlu Ruda - Kaunas” is EUR 141 237 692, of which the EU’s Cohesion Fund is contributing EUR 119 519 949 from the Operational Programme “Economic Growth” for the 2007 to 2013 programming period. Work falls under the priority “Development of trans-European Transport Networks”.