Ever since the discussion of a new airport to replace the Warsaw Chopin Airport began in the 2000s, plans of establishing an infrastructure to serve as the central transportation hub has been long on the the country’s agenda. A concrete plan for the construction of said project was slowly being drafted and has rapidly picked up its pace since the rising to power of the Law and Justice party, approving the plan on November 2017.
The aim of the of the government mega project seeks not only to replace the Chopin Airport with a brand new, up to date aircraft facility with the most current technologies, providing four runways ultimately, but also for said infrastructure to serve as a central hub for other forms of transportation such as trains, high speed railroads and buses. The project scheduled to be completed in 2027 will likely put the country on the global stage of transportation for travellers and business alike. With the airport alone boasting the capacity of 40 million passengers a year initially and projecting to hit an annual passenger load of 100 million eventually.
The airport’s planned site is about 40 km west of Warsaw next to the village Stanisławów, which despite its rural character, provides well established extensive road infrastructure with several railway lines already running in the immediate vicinity or in short distances of the potential construction site. The strategic placement of the Central hub allows for the investment of a new railroad network system that reduces travel time from some of Poland’s largest cities to the hub to 2-2.5 hours and 15-20 minutes from central Warsaw. The government has already announced a plan to construct 1,300 km of new high speed rail lines at the estimated cost of 40 billion PLN, with the construction of the new rail lines undertaken by a new special purpose company, rather than the previously well known PKP PLK, which despite having experience in running over 18,000 km of rail lines and associated infrastructure, has only built 43 km of new rail lines since 1989. The legislation authorizing CCP contemplates the creation of special purpose companies for the exact purpose of installation of the new railways.
To summarize, the megaproject with the target date of 2027, the Central Communication Port will feature a new hub airport 40km from Warsaw, the reconfiguration and extension of Poland’s rail network with the Communication Port as its hub, extension of the nearby A2 motorway along with numerous ring roads, transfer of major operations from Warsaw’s existing Chopin Airport to the Central Communication Port, and eventually developing a new city neighboring the newly constructed infrastructure.
Notwithstanding the use of the aforementioned special purpose company for the construction of the new railways, the major expansion has already gathered the backing of all necessary parties. The Steering Committee for the CCP Rail Component that approved the plan consists of, among others, the Secretary of State in the Ministry of Infrastructure and Plenipotentiary of the Government for CCP, the Minister of Investment and Development, the Minister for Enterprise and Technology, and the President of Polish State Railways (PKP).
The concrete plans drafted by the Law and Justice Party government utilizes the funding from the EU designated for investment in rail transport, with initial components of the new rail network already included in the European Union’s Connecting Europe Facility, going beyond the spokes that will connect to the Central Communication Port, to include lines such as Warsaw-Olsztyn or Warsaw-Lublin-Zamość-Hrebenne and Lviv, with the ultimate goal of connecting 120 cities and upwards 13 million inhabitants and to further ensure all residents are within 30 km of a train station. But such ambitious project will require a drastic restructure of Poland’s existing railroad system.
The Government admits that the construction of such ambitious project might require more time than the original schedule, but is a trade-off they are willing to make in pursuit of more convenient transportation for not only the inhabitants across the country, but also the people across Europe, that will likely to be using the infrastructure.
Project ambitious as such are not without its controversy. In a non-binding poll conducted on June 17th 2018, the residents of the district of Baranów, Grodzisk Mazowiecki County voted down the plan to build the new airport. With 47 percent voter turnout, 84 percent opposed the plan. Even though he referendum was not binding, the Deputy Infrastructure Minister, Mikołaj Wild, has said that the voice of the public would be taken under consideration.
Opposition to the construction of the infrastructure expressed concerns in regards to the budget and practicality of said infrastructure, arguing that the excessive spending required by the central hub should not be a priority in placement of the governmental budget. Others argue that the radical reconstruction of a functioning railroad system might bring about the unnecessary disruption of local transportation followed by confusion that the new system will bring about. Some simply did not believe the Central Communication Port to be a necessity.
One of the biggest projected beneficiaries of the construction of the Central Communication Port will be Poland’s flagship carrier, LOT Polish Airlines. The port will provide a crucial point for the carrier to operate, providing flight routes to all over the world, offering alternatives to transfer flight from other nearby countries, challenging other airlines as the central carrier of Eastern Europe. Due to the strategic location ,increased flight routes and easier accessibility, the national airline company are expecting an influx of passengers, potential capital and foreign investment. In the crucial Asia to Europe and the Middle East to Europe travel route that has long been a central point of interest, LOT will be able to provide multiple alternatives to the existing flight routes, making it an attractive option for travellers.
Other beneficiaries included but are not limited to national transportation companies, local business that would benefit from the increased capital both domestic and abroad along with the workers and employees that depends on said business. And last but not least, the inhabitants of Poland and those across all of Europe, who would stand to gain from a more streamlined, efficient, convenient network of travel.