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EU to Extend Major Rail Network to Lviv


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Spanish authorities have reached a provisional agreement with the EU to finance network infrastructure that would see the European rail network connect to Lviv in western Ukraine.

It would form the longest corridor in the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) and the only one to completely pass through Europe from west to east.

As reported by the Spanish news outlet Levante, the connection with Ukraine came as a result of amending the new TEN-T proposal, which was initially envisioned to end in Zagreb, Croatia.

The changes were proposed by Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) Inmaculada Rodríguez-Piñero and Isabel García Muñoz and supported by the European Commissioner for the coastal railway axis, Josep Vicente Boira.

Boira said the new corridor would “[open] up great possibilities for multimodal and especially rail transport.”

Basic work for the TEN-T is expected to be finished by 2030, with expansion expected to be complete by 2040. The line is expected to be fully operational by 2050.

It is not known if the connection with Ukraine will be completed by 2030 or 2050.

Passenger trains will move at a speed of 160 km/h and cross borders in 25 minutes, according to UAINFO.org.

However, since Ukraine employs a broad-gauge system (1,520 mm) as opposed to the standard gauge (1,435 mm) employed by the rest of Europe, it could be a challenge to integrate into the European network.

At present, rail connections between Ukraine and other EU countries require trains to switch the gauge on the border, a process that can lead to lengthy stops.

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The only current exception is the Intercity+ train to Przemyśl, a border city in Poland, that uses a track in broad gauge (PKP rail line 92).

In November 2023, Interfax reported that Ukraine was planning to construct European standard gauge rails to connect Lviv with Poland, but it remains unknown if there are plans to extend the construction to other border crossings, including Hungary as the TEN-T extension envisioned.

TEN-T is an EU initiative aimed to facilitate the transportation of people and goods within the bloc, comprising railways, inland waterways, short sea shipping routes and roads linking urban nodes, maritime and inland ports, as well as airports and terminals.

It is also related to the bloc’s Military Mobility initiative to ensure military personnel, materiel and asset movements within and beyond the EU.

Ukraine received EU candidate status in June 2022 and EU leaders decided to open accession negotiations with Kyiv in December 2023.

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