According to the plan by 2030 the whole Rail Baltica cross-border corridor should be completed in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania: from Tallinn via Riga and Kaunas (with a connection to Vilnius) to the Polish border. The first sections of Rail Baltica railway lines are planned to be launched starting in 2027. The assumption is that a section of the V4 HSR line between Prague, Brno, Bratislava, and Budapest will also be built at this time. In the following years, the next sections from Poland will be connected to the V4 railway line: Katowice-Ostrava and the so-called Małopolska-Silesian Node.
“The Three Seas Region is one of the fastest growing areas in Europe. Over the past 20 years, the region's GDP has grown almost twice as fast as the 'original EU',” says the Deputy Minister for Funds and Regional Policy, Marcin Horała, the government's plenipotentiary for CPK. “These rail projects are tailored to the needs of individual countries and the Three Seas region as a whole. The new HSR network, which is the CPK railway investment, together with other projects in the region such as Rail Baltica and V4, will form the future railway backbone of the Three Seas Region and an important part of European TEN-T transport network,” he added.
Thanks to joint investments, there will be, for example, a Tallinn – Warsaw – Katowice – Budapest connection (1,700 km) as well as Tallinn – Warsaw – Wrocław – Prague (1,500 km).
“This is a unique, one-of-a-kind time in our common history when functioning together in the region, we can create an unrivaled rail transportation offering. We are drawing lessons from HSR investments in the West. As a result, our projects can bring about an economic domino effect, giving a boost to other industries and sectors,” says Mikołaj Wild, CEO of CPK.
“The cooperation between railway infrastructure managers in the region is viewed by Správa železnic as a cornerstone for future rapid development in the 3Seas area. Faster travel between hubs, better service quality to passengers, improved safety as well as alleviating capacity on a conventional rail for freight seem to be the major benefits that will boost economic growth and multi-lateral relationships across the region,” emphasizes Radek Čech, Director of International Affairs Department of Správa železnic.
The project delivery organizations have the support of international allies, who point out that the planned infrastructure will be dual-use, that is civil-military.
“Current events have shown that reliable and resilient rail infrastructure is so incredibly important for the safety and security of the region. An investment in this infrastructure is an investment in the long-term security of the region. It is just as important as our collaboration on national security, energy security, and defense,” says Mark Brzezinski, US Ambassador to Poland.
The planned HSR system in the Three Seas Region area seems to be cost-effective, as confirmed by a report presented at Railway Direction Days by Steer, an international consultancy that performs analyses for the European Commission.
The estimated total cost of the entire HSR network in the Three Seas Region is around €60 billion. The authors of the report estimated that the total value of the benefits in the HSR network for the Three Seas Region countries would be more than €120 billion. This means that, in the long term, the new high-speed railway network will generate twice the value of its initial cost. According to Steer's calculations, €55 billion represent passenger journey time savings and €57 billion are the other benefits of the project, including, among others, those resulting from a decrease in transportation accidents.
There will be a significant shortening of travel times, such as on the Łódź – Wrocław section, where the journey will be shortened from 3 hours to about 1 hour. From Warsaw: traveling to Vilnius will take 4 hours (currently 9 hours), to Riga 5 hours (today there is no such direct connection by train, and the travel time by bus takes more than 8 hours), to Ostrava less than 2 hours (currently 4.5 hours) and to Budapest 5.5 hours (currently 11.5 hours).
It will take approximately two hours to get from Prague to Vienna and Bratislava, currently close to 4.5 hours, while the journey to Budapest from the Czech capital will be reduced to 3.5 hours (from the current 7 hours). From Vilnius, passengers will reach Tallinn in approximately 3.5 hours (currently it takes more than 8 hours), and Riga will be reached in in less than 2 hours (from the current over 4 hours).
According to Steer’s calculations, the busiest sections will be Warsaw – Łódź in Poland, Brno – Jihlava in the Czech Republic, and Budapest – Gyor in Hungary. Each will carry between 14 and 18 million passengers a year.
In the Baltics, more than 640 out of 870 km total corridor is under design and large-scale constructions are approaching. E.g. in Latvia, a tender for construction works for a 200 km section of the Rail Baltica railway line is underway, as well as RB Rail AS has launched an electrification subsystem design and build tender for the electrification of the entire 870 km Rail Baltica network. Meanwhile, the Czech Republic is preparing design documentation for, among other things, the section between Ostrava and Przerov.