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22 april

The building of the Kiev – Moscow HSR will cost $15 billions only on the Ukrainian district

by Alexandr Arbuzov, 2011/18/04
 
The less time to the UEFA Euro 2012 the more large-scale projects is offered by high-ranking Ukrainian officials. And offered innovations are often not connected outright with the championship at that. The significant here is the statement of Boris Kolesnikov, the head of the Ukraine transport office, running on a Kiev — Moscow high-speed service project realization. 

After the 9th session of the transport subcommittee of the economic cooperation Committee of the Russia-Ukraine interstate Commission which was held last week, Boris Viktorovich stated: “Our specialists will work to achieve the speed of 200 — 250 kmh between our capitals in near future. By means of it passengers will can get to Moscow from Kiev even faster than by plane in view of the distance of the travel before and after an airport.”

It is a rather realistic idea considering that the railway service between Moscow and St Petersburg with the same parameters is already operating. But Kolesnikov also said that in prospect the train service with the speed of 300-350 kmh will be launched. “We will open the new page in a high-speed railway service and launch the project with the working title “Slavutich-Sapsan”, — informed Boris Kolesnikov. According to his words it is necessary to prepare the project feasibility study and find investors who will be ready to realize it. 

“If the project feasibility study will be ready in next 1,5 years than the high-speed railway service can be launched in 4 years. The project itself is 320 km through the Ukrainian territory and 510-530 km through the Russian territory”, — the Ministry of infrastructure press service quotes Boris Viktorovich. And further: “Our aim is to get to Moscow from Kiev for 4 hours. This problem is not only the comfort for passengers. It is the image of both our countries. It will show to the global community that Ukraine and Russia are ready for serious projects.”

Nobody argue about the image and the suitability of these projects. Practices of France, Germany, Spain, China and Japan also prove that it is hard for airlines to compete with a railway service on same directons after the launch of high-speed lines.

Though in the “railway” part of the final protocol of Boris Kolesnikov and Igor Levitin talks the high-speed service ranks only No. 4. The more priority is the building of the broad-gauge (also known as  “soviet gauge” with the width of 1520 mm) railway from Ukrainian border and Slovakia to Vienna. The No.2 is the further development of the railway ferry service Kerch — Caucasus and No.3 is the simplification of procedures and the cut of travel time for 40 minutes for the Kiev — Moscow No.1/2 passenger train. We notice that it is all about only one train.

The agreement about high-speed service has been formulated as follows: “The parties agreed to continue to work on the management of the high-speed passenger service on the Moscow — Kiev direction through the current railway with the speed up to 160 kmh. The parties have came to accommodation to submit the participatory action plan for the purpose of the launching of the high-speed passenger service in 2013.”

It is reasonably to remind that trains with a speed of 160 — 180 kmh are assumed to be called “accelerated”, with a speed up to 250 kmh are rapid and over 250 are high-speed. And the cost of high-speed technologies is comparable with the cost of the cosmic exploration cost at that. 

For the first time the decision about the realization oh high-speed service was made by USSR Cabinet Council in the middle of 1970s. After ten years the development of the “Sokol” (“Falcon”) high-speed train began. After the USSR breakup this work was continued in Russia in the late 1990s. However, Russians failed to build their own high-speed train and JSC Russian Railways contracted Siemens to build such trains (“Sapsan”). It was adapted for the current infrastructure and began to haul on the Moscow — St Petersburg line with the speed of 200 kmh.

According to Kolesnikov-Levitin agreements the “accelerated” (in accordance with international standards) service will be launched between Kiev and Moscow before 2013 which will require considerable investments. At once “Ukrzaliznytsia” (Ukrainian Railways) which had the debt of 15 billions of hryvnas by January 1st, 2011 (the index includes bills payable and debts to banks) can channel additional funds in a more constructive stream. For example, it can buy freight wagons to develop the profitable section of freight transportation.

Kolesnikov's statement about high-speed service looks just irresponsible against this backdrop. To launch such service is necessary to build an independent line with protection which won't cross another communications. And to provide the speed of 300-350 kmh this line has to lay on a one level (without access tracks in low lying lands and counter sidings). On top of that in Kiev as well as in Moscow such train will require new terminuses. 

How much are we talking? For the present moment the biggest extension of high-speed railways (HSR) are in China (about 20 thousands of km). For the last 2 years an average cost of building of 1 km in the Heavenly Empire was $17,5 millions. In Europe where the leaders in this sphere are France, Spain and Germany (about 2 000 km) an average cost of 1km building is $40-45 millions.

In Ukraine, where the office of Vladislav Kaskiv offers to build a spur of a conventional (non high-speed) railroad to the “Borispol” airport at the price of $30 millions per 1 km, it is reasonably to suppose that the building cost will break the European record. It will be $50 millions. And in view of the HSR extension till the Russian Federation border is 320 km the summary total of necessary expenses with the cost of $50 millions per 1 km will approach $15 billions. Russian Railways will surely spend less money for their 530 km. The building of the 8 km spur from Moscow to the “Sheremetyevo“ airport cost them $80 millions ($10 millions per 1 km). 

The funniest thing in this situation that in case of realization of this project passengers shouldn't be confused by the fare. The travel cost on extensionally comparable routes (Kiev — Moscow route is 850 km), for example, in the Paris — Marseilles TGV train (775 km and 3,5 hours in travel) is about 100 euros.

It stands to mention that Boris Kolesnikov is the eighth head of Ukraine's Transport office whom Igor Levitin met with after his assignment in 2004. It is obvious that the frequent change of Ukrainian transport ministers is not beneficial for the transport cooperation. And the “Euro 2012” syndrome fuels our neighbours low opinion of our delusioned “football” officials.

Photo by PHL

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