Poland continues to devote sizeable resources to the development of transportation. The General Directorate of National Roads and Motorways (GDDKiA), the Polish Railway PKP S.A., the Polish Railway Networks (PKP-PLK), the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology, and the Ministry of Infrastructure are all responsible for nation-wide or regional projects. In addition, local governments are responsible for infrastructure projects for their own communities. Many highway, railway, and inland waterway projects are eligible for EU funding.
One of the interesting aspects of Poland’s transportation systems in the past few years has been the rapid development of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS). ITS solutions have become an important part of highway and road infrastructure. Under the current EU funding scheme, from 2014 to 2023 (with perspective until 2025), the government plans to invest $17.5 billion in railway infrastructure and $36.6 billion in road infrastructure. Successful country-wide ITS implementation includes e-TOLL, an advanced solution for the collection of tolls on toll sections of motorways, expressways and national roads, and CANARD, connecting all photoradars. E-TOLL is based on the global navigation satellite system; the payment is available via an application on a mobile device, via a location system (ELS), via on-board units (OBU). The manual toll collection system was discontinued in December 2021.
In May 2020, GDDKiA signed a contract for a National System of Traffic Management valued at over $52 million. The goal of the project, co-financed by EU, is to monitor highways and express roads in real time, enabling an improved dynamic traffic management service, information on traffic conditions on the national road network, support for road infrastructure maintenance processes, and asset management.
The Intelligent Transport System sector is well organized. ITS Polska is a cluster of key industry players supporting and inspiring stronger collaboration between the private sector, government authorities, and academics. ITS Polska Association has two committees: KASI-ITS architecture and standardization committee as well as a new working group for technological sandbox implementation (Smart City technologies). The association organizes the annual ITS Poland Congress, a gathering of industry representatives, academic experts, and central, local, and municipal governments.
Poland has a large and growing road network of about 1,300 miles of highways and 3,807 miles of express roads. The Ministry of Infrastructure has developed a draft of a new road program, which presents a list of investments on national roads planned by the government to be implemented in the third decade of the 21st century. The total amount is worth approximately $65.5 billion. This includes new tasks worth about $42 billion and continued tasks worth about $23.5 billion. The new plan defines the objectives of the transport policy in the field of building the TEN-T road network and complementary road connections. TEN-T (Trans-European Transport Networks) is a planned network of roads, railways, airports, and water infrastructure in the European Union. This would allow investments in new road infrastructure or upgrades.
In 2022 alone, 200 miles of new roads were constructed in Poland. More than 770 miles of roads are now under construction, while 166 miles of roads are in the tender process. The plan for 2023 assumes the completion of 161 miles of new roads including almost 30 miles of highways and more than 119 miles of express roads. The government has earmarked over $7 billion for construction on the Polish part of the Via Carpatia, an international route connecting Lithuania with Greece, including supporting infrastructure and plans for new ring roads in several cities. Via Carpatia is scheduled to be finished in 2026. Additionally, in April 2021, the Polish government adopted a resolution for the construction of 100 ring roads during the years 2020-2030. This investment is planned for more than $7 billion.
Another large investment is the Polish portion of the Via Baltica, a 540-mile-long expressway that connects Tallin, Estonia to Warsaw, Poland via Latvia and Lithuania. The route will be an important road connection between the Baltic countries. The final opening of Via Baltica is scheduled for mid-2024.
Poland’s General Directorate for National Roads and Highways (GDDKiA) has established “The Safe Road Infrastructure Program 2021-2024,” which is the first independent, long-term program around road safety infrastructure on a large scale in Poland. More than $650 million funds will be allocated from National Road Fund for this purpose.
One of the most important investments under current programs is the National Traffic System, which received a $139 million subvention from the European Commission. The system will support drivers by informing them in real-time about traffic, accidents, and road conditions. In 2018, the government announced the Bridges for Regions program, where 21 bridges will be built over the largest Polish rivers. The project is estimated to cost $640 million, and construction started in 2020. As of this writing, 23 new investments are under construction.
PKP S.A. is the dominant company in the railway market in Poland. Today, Polish railway infrastructure has 12,000 miles of railway tracks. Most of the projects were funded by the EU Program Infrastructure and Environment during the 2014-2020 period. The EU has already spent over $10 billion for the modernization of the Polish railway system. Under the program, 9,000 km of railway roads will be created or improved, and 500 trains will be upgraded.
In the 2021-2030 period, the Polish railway will receive $75 billion for development. Under the National Railway Program (KPK), the most important investment railway program in Poland, PKP PLK has planned for over 230 infrastructure projects, worth $18.7 billion, which will improve over 5,592 miles of railroad tracks. To date, projects worth $2.6 billion have been completed, and projects worth $10 billion are underway. The priority is cargo routes, especially those linking the south of the country to the seaport in the north and those in large cities. The railway projects that would benefit include modernization of the cargo route in Southern Poland Chorzow-Zdunska Wola (over $1 billion), as well as improvement of railway infrastructure linking seaports in Gdansk, Swinoujscie, and Gdynia ($1.55 billion). The goal of the program is to also increase average train speeds on 8,5000 km of railroads. Currently, Polish train speeds are much lower than the EU average. In 2019, the Ministry of Infrastructure announced the Kolej+ program which aims to improve local and regional railway infrastructure. The value of the program is $1.6 billion, and the program will be carried out between 2019-2028.
Intermodal transportation is the future of Polish railroads. The main obstacles in developing intermodal transportation are the slow speeds of cargo trains, which are two times slower than the EU average, and the inadequate number of intermodal terminals.
One of the largest investment projects in Poland is the Solidarity Transport Hub (STH). Apart from the construction of the airport itself (more information below), STH envisions the construction of 1,800 km of new railway lines, which are to be built by the end of 2034. Some of the routes are to be modernized and extended by Polish state-owned rail company, PKP S.A. The STH Railway Program consists of a total of 12 railway routes, including 10 so-called spokes, leading from various regions of Poland to Warsaw and the STH. The STH is comprised of a total of 30 investment projects. The first construction work is expected to begin in 2023.
Nearly 50 million passengers traveled through Polish airports in 2019, reaching a record compared to 2018, representing an increase of 6%, according to estimates. In 2020, due to COVID-19 and restrictions connected with international and domestic flights, the number of passengers dropped drastically by almost 34.4 million passengers. In 2023, the number of passengers is steadily growing and is forecast to reach pre-pandemic levels. In 2022, the number of passengers reached 41 million.
The Warsaw Chopin airport is an economic leader, which before pandemic in 2019 had a growth of 6.2% compared to 2018, mainly through LOT Polish Airlines (18.9 million passengers). Regional airports are also quickly growing, with a large increase in passengers and development plans. Polish Regional Ports identified 210 investment needs (of $1 billion) to be realized in regional airports between 2018 and 2037.
The biggest project planned in Poland is a brand-new international airport known in English as the Solidarity Transport Hub (STH) and in Polish as Centralny Port Komunikacyjny (CPK). STH is the government’s response to a substantial increase in air passenger traffic in Poland. The largest airport currently in Poland, Chopin Airport, has no room to expand. STH will be able support 100 million passengers. According to government plans, STH is scheduled to launch in 2028 at an estimated cost of $9 billion – the most expensive single infrastructure project since 1989. STH will be located in Central Poland, approximately 25 miles from Warsaw. The government is looking for the investors in the project. The first construction work is planned to begin in 2023. Recently Solidarity Transport Hub received a promise of permission to establish an airport for public use by the Civil Aviation Authority and the Master Plan of the Airport development was announced.
The goal of the STH project is to broaden collaboration between airports and railways, where the cost of investment would be even higher than the cost of the hub itself. The railway network will cost around $10 billion and, according to the government, the Solidarity Transport Hub already received $3.5 million for the first rail investments in southern Poland. The government plans to create 808 miles of new railway infrastructure. According to the Ministry of Infrastructure, the time to reach the airport from the Warsaw city center will take around 15 minutes and 2-2.5 hours via high-speed rail from other major cities in Poland. The government also plans to create a system that will allow passengers to check in while entering the train. In 2021, STH signed a contract for a preparatory work for construction of the first section of high-speed rail between Warsaw-STH-Lodz that will run at a speed of 250 km/hour and will take approximately 5 years to build.
The new STH international hub would become important not only for passengers but also for logistics. Poczta Polska (Polish Post Office) announced that the company would build a Central Logistics Hub close to the airport. Eventually, the government would like to create a high technology smart city around the airport. Such a city could employ more than 50,000 people.
The STH presents significant opportunities for U.S. companies interested in project management and smart solutions.
Other upcoming projects:
- Central Seaport in Gdansk: The concept for this project is ready and will be followed by environmental assessment and public discussion.
- Port Gdynia Project: creation of an additional port that will add to 180 ha to the already existing 240 ha capacity. Cost of the project: $0.66 billion; estimated completion date: 2026.
Strong opportunities for U.S. exporters include:
- Engineering, project creation for the Solidarity Transport Hub.
- Technological companies which can help with the smart city that will be constructed near the Solidarity Transport Hub.
- Trako - 15th International Railway Fair- Gdansk, September 19-22, 2023
- Polish Congress of Intelligent Transportation Systems – Warsaw – October 9-10, 2023
- ITS Polska
- Ministry of Infrastructure
- Ministry of Funds and Regional Policy (Solidarity Transport Hub Plenipotentiary Office)
- General Directorate for National Roads and Highways
- PKP S.A.
- PKP Polish Railway Networks
- STH Solidarity Transport Hub
For more information about the Infrastructure and Intelligent Transportation Systems, please contact:
U.S. Commercial Service Poland
Commercial Specialist: Katarzyna Slowinska