Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Poland revises plans on funds for railway sector

It has been pointed out in this blog how Poland has managed to maintain economic growth throughout the global economic crisis largely due to an increase in public investment spurred by an inflow of EU funds. It has also been noted however that the vast majority of infrastructural developments in transport have been concentrated in roads rather than railways.

There are signs however that the Polish government is considering reversing its decision to divert funds designated for railway development to road building. This is a welcome development and comes after sustained political pressure at a time when Poland holds the EU Presidency.

Below I reproduce an article from European Greens website (thanks to Greig Aitken for pointing this out)

According to reports, the Polish government has changed its mind about proposals to redirect €1.2 billion in cohesion funds from rail to road projects. The money will now be spent, as originally foreseen, on the modernisation and maintenance of existing rail infrastructure.

The Greens, who lobbied the Polish government on this issue together with EU transport commissioner Siim Kallas, welcome the decision. It's good news for the climate, rail transport in Poland and the credibility of European transport policy.

According to Green transport spokesperson Michael Cramer MEP, "Redirecting cohesion funds from rail to road would have set a disastrous precedent for EU transport policy and would have been a terrible signal to send in the context of the current Polish EU presidency."

"It is welcome that there was coordinated EU opposition to the original plans: funds that are approved for environmental-friendly railway projects cannot become subject to subsequent relocation to the climate-damaging road construction."

This is particularly good news for the Polish railway network which is in urgent need of funding. Poland is Europe's frontrunner in dismantling railway infrastructure with 25% of rail routes dismantled since 1990. Improving this infrastructure will aid transport not just in Poland but for the rest of Europe, in particualr the Baltic states. For Michael Cramer "Strengthening and expanding the connection between Bialystok in Poland and Kaunas in Lithuania has to be a top priority to ensure Baltic States do not remain disconnected from the European rail network".

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