CPK Embarks on High-Speed Rail Tunnel Construction: A Megaproject Revolutionising Poland’s Railway Infrastructure

Centralny Port Komunikacyjny (CPK), a prominent Polish state-owned company, has recently embarked on the development of a revolutionary high-speed rail (HSR) tunnel. Spanning over four kilometres, this tunnel is a critical component of the “Y” route, meticulously designed to link Warsaw, Łodź, Poznań, and Wrocław. CPK has strategised the project’s completion to coincide with the inauguration of the CPK airport’s first phase.

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Divisions of the CPK Project

The ambitious project in Łodź has been strategically divided into three distinct stages for efficient execution. The first phase, commencing in September, focuses on strengthening the foundations of the Łodź Cultural Centre (ŁDK). The responsibility for this crucial task has been entrusted to Keller Polska, a reputable construction company.

Contract for the Second Phase

CPK has recently signed a contract pertaining to the second phase, involving the construction of chambers for the tunnel boring machine with a shield skin (TBM). Budimex, the company awarded the contract, will oversee the launching (at Retkinia) and receiving (near ŁDK) of the TBM. The contract’s worth is approximately PLN 147 million (roughly EUR 34 million). The third and final phase will involve the drilling of the CPK railway tunnel.

“The construction of the Y-shaped railway route is finally underway, thanks to the CPK investments. The contract for the long-distance tunnel, signed today, marks a historic moment for Łodź. The tunnel, a part of the planned High-Speed Rail system, will connect Łodź and the CPK airport,” stated Marcin Horała, Deputy Minister of Funds and Regional Policy, Government Plenipotentiary for CPK.

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The Role of the Retkinia Chamber

The Retkinia chamber, positioned at the south-western tunnel end, will serve as the launching shaft for TBM. It will eventually transform into a technical facility housing an evacuation area, technical rooms, and evacuation staircases. The disassembling shaft for TBM and a turnout chamber will be located at Fabryczna.

“CPK is not just about the upcoming airport; it’s about the much-needed new railway lines in Poland. About 450 km of lines are already in an advanced design stage, including the railway sections between Warsaw and Łodź as well as Łodź and Wrocław. Today, we’re taking a step further by signing a contract for the construction work. The long-distance tunnel in Łodź is our most advanced railway investment in terms of preparations,” said Radosław Kantak, Member of the CPK Management Board for Railway Investments.

Contractor’s Tasks and Timeline

The contractor is assigned the task of developing design plans and specifications in addition to constructing the launching and receiving chambers (Retkinia and Fabryczna). They are also responsible for ensuring appropriate traffic organisation and carrying out restoration works. The construction timeframe for the Retkinia chamber is approximately 10 months, while the Fabryczna chamber is expected to be completed in about 13 months.

“Constructing the launching chambers for TBMs is a responsible task, requiring the involvement of appropriate engineering and technical resources along with ensuring the highest technical standards of execution and control. This is another task related to the CPK project carried out by our company,” said Maciej Olek, Member of the Management Board of Budimex.

The Tunnel’s Purpose and Route

The tunnel is designed for long-distance trains, particularly the high-speed ones. These trains will halt at the Łodź Fabryczna station in Łodź. The tunnel is planned to emerge south-west of Łodź Kaliska, close to the Retkinia housing estate and existing railway line no. 14. The route will then continue westwards towards Sieradz, eventually splitting in the direction of Poznań and Wrocław.

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The Bigger Picture

The CPK railway investment in Łodź forms a part of the North Sea – Baltic Sea corridor, a segment of the trans-European transport network. This megaproject is an integral part of the TEN-T core network, further enhancing its significance in Europe’s transport landscape.