The construction of Poland’s new 4 km long high-speed rail (HSR) tunnel is well underway, with a €34 million contract for the second stage of the project being signed between Centralny Port Komunikacyjny (CPK) and Budimex in December.
The tunnel will be part of an 140 km long high speed rail link being built to connect Warsaw with the cities of Łódź and Wrocław, which in turn is part of a larger development project, managed by CPK, aiming to transform the country’s railway network as well as to build a new mega-airport between Warsaw and Łódź. CPK plans to complete the construction of the tunnel simultaneously with the launch of the first stage of the airport.
The construction of the long-distance tunnel in Łódź has been divided into three parts. The first one began in September 2023, according to a CPK statement, and includes work aimed at strengthening the foundations of the Łódź Cultural Centre (ŁDK). The second stage foresees the construction of the chambers for the tunnel boring machine with a shield skin. The third stage of the investment will be the actual drilling of the tunnel.
The tunnel is intended for long-distance trains, especially high-speed ones. In Łódź, high-speed trains will stop at the Łódź Fabryczna station. The tunnel is planned to exit south-west of Łódź Kaliska, in the vicinity of the Retkinia housing estate and the existing railway line number 14. The route continues westwards towards Sieradz, where it forks in the direction of Poznań and Wrocław.
“CPK is not only about the planned airport, but also about the much-needed new railway lines in Poland”, said Radosław Kantak, member of the CPK Management Board for railway investments. “About 450 km of lines are already in an advanced design stage, including the railway sections between Warsaw and Łódź as well as Łódź and Wrocław. (…) The long-distance tunnel in Łódź is our most advanced railway investment in terms of preparations.”
The estimated value of the entire CPK project is unknown. In 2019, the government granted a 300 million złoty (€68.78 million) funding for the project. In June, the European Commission approved a 290 million złoty (€63.6 million) funding for the construction of the 140 km long railway line between Warsaw and Łódź. At the time, CPK estimated the cost of just this line at 350 million złoty (€80.24 million).
In October 2023, French airport operator Vici and the IFM Global Infrastructure Fund were announced as the preferred investors for the development of the CPK airport. At the time, a statement from the company revealed the plan was for the investors to acquire a 49% stake in the airport for approximatively 8 billion złoty (€1.84 billion), which would bring the total value of the airport to about €3.75 billion, However, Politico reported the following month that CPK “could swallow as much as 200 billion złoty (€46 billion) to build an airport in farmland about 40 kilometres southwest of Warsaw, served by 2,000 kilometres of high-speed rail linking it to most Polish cities.”
Ryanair CEO, Michael O’Leary, has heavily criticised the decision of building a new airport, calling on the Polish government to stop the project before unnecessarily spending any more taxpayer money. “The idea of building [the CPK airport] is incomprehensible to me, I can honestly say that I don’t understand this investment. Even though taxpayers have spent billions on this senseless project, it is still possible to abandon it and not go further. This airport is unnecessary. It was planned in the wrong place and at the wrong time. Only very stupid politicians could decide to do something like that”, he told Polish daily Rzeczpospolita.