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The Warsaw Voice » Business » April 8, 2009
Two Years for Infrastructure Projects
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Fast Track to 2012
April 8, 2009   
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Two years ago, Poland and Ukraine were chosen as the joint hosts of the Euro 2012 European soccer championships. For Polskie Line Kolejowe (PLK SA-Polish Railway Lines), that heralded the start of an intensive round of preparations, prompting a fresh look at projects already under way and decisions on what the priorities were in the run-up to Euro 2012.

An outsider might be forgiven for finding it a little funny-22 adult men in short trousers running around on a pitch, chasing a ball, with half the world watching their every move. It is quite an occurrence when people of different views, from different cultures and traditions are brought together by a common passion. Soccer fascinates almost everybody, from Joe Public to politicians and financiers to industrialists. For Joe Public it is great entertainment, but for the others, soccer means big business, big money and a gigantic industry. The world and European soccer championships are more than just a national celebration for the host country because they stimulate the economy, infrastructure and regions in the given country. The efforts to prepare for such events pay off in the years that follow, hence the stiff competition to win the privilege of hosting the championships. Two years ago, the race for Euro 2012 was won by Poland and Ukraine.

Poland is past the initial euphoria and it is now time to act and to work hard in order not to squander the opportunity the country has, so that it does not disgrace or humiliate itself before the competition. Investment in infrastructure plays a huge role in the national preparation program. The program covers more than 360 projects submitted by investors in different branches of the economy, including Polskie Line Kolejowe.

The experience of the hosts of previous championships clearly indicates that railways are the basic method of transportation during such events. Polskie Line Kolejowe has accordingly reviewed its projects and selected 21 whose completion in time for Euro 2012 will guarantee efficient railway transportation between the host cities of the championships and within the cities themselves, by connecting city centers with airports and soccer stadiums.

The 21 projects involve thorough modernization of over 980 kilometers of railroad. We are proud to say that everything is going according to plan. By the end of 2008, we completed work on almost 450 km of tracks, including train stations and stops, adjusting the railway infrastructure to the needs of people with disabilities. The modernized lines have improved technical parameters which enables trains to reach 160 kilometers an hour, radically shortening travel time. Almost the entire distance from Zgorzelec to Opole can be covered at 160 kph, while the journey from Skierniewice to ŁódĽ is 30 minutes shorter.

This year, the Polskie Line Kolejowe team are just as committed as last year. We still have 530 kilometers to modernize before the Euro 2012 championships, the top priority being the E65 line from Warsaw to Gdynia. Today, the 325-kilometer trip from Warsaw to Gdańsk takes 270 minutes, while in May 2012 soccer fans will only need three hours to get to the Gdańsk Stadium and see a match. It is equally important to build railway links to Okęcie airport in Warsaw and Balice airport near Cracow. Still awaiting construction in Warsaw is a two-kilometer tunnel connecting the completed tracks from the Warszawa Zachodnia station to the Okęcie station with the partially finished station underneath the airport's Terminal 2. Around mid-2011, passengers arriving in Okęcie will be able to reach the city center in just 20 minutes.

Aware that the start of 2012 marks the deadline for all Euro 2012 projects and that this year is a key period, Polskie Line Kolejowe has initiated a string of meetings (March-July this year) to minimize problems in carrying out projects and to come up with ideas that will not need time-consuming changes in legislation. We have investors, central agencies, local government officials and contractors to the talks. All of them will have a direct impact on the success of Poland's preparations for Euro 2012. We hope that working together to identify the most important obstacles and then overcome them will guarantee we swiftly complete the tasks we have taken on.

This is a game we can't afford to lose!

Euro 2012 Task Force
PKP Polskie Linie Kolejowe S.A.
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