Ukraine opened a new rail tunnel through the Carpathian Mountains on May 24, a move which will facilitate the faster movement of goods and people between the country and the European Union.
The 1822m long tunnel, which crosses the mountains between the towns of Beskyd and Skotarske, has been built to alleviate a single-track bottleneck on the Lviv – Chop section of pan-European Corridor V. The route – which until now was forced to use a tunnel dating from 1886 – is the main line linking western Ukraine and the Hungarian border and carries 60 per cent of all rail freight between the EU and Ukraine.
Excavated to a depth of 180m, the new tunnel is one of the largest infrastructure projects to be completed in Ukraine in recent years. Carrying a double-track alignment, it is expected to allow for more than double the current throughput on the route, which will increase from 45 trains per day to approximately 100, with line speed increasing from 40 km/h to 70 km/h.
Construction of the tunnel was financed by the the European Investment Bank (EIB), which extended a 55 million euros loan, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which contributed a 40 million US dollars loan. The project was also supported by a grant provided by the European Union (EU), while the remaining 30 per cent of costs were met by Ukrainian Railways.
“This tunnel is a symbol of effective cooperation between Ukraine with the European Union,” said Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who was present at the tunnel’s inauguration. “It is a symbol of increasing revenues for the state budget, and it is a symbol of new, high-paying jobs in Ukraine both in the economy and on the railroad.”
Photo: Ukrainian Presidency