With the opening of the new Beskyd tunnel in the Carpathian Mountains on Thursday, Ukraine has made a major step in closer integration with pan-European transport networks.
The new tunnel crosses the mountains between the towns of Beskid and Skotarske and connects the Ukrainian rail network through a double-track link with the pan-European transport network Corridor V, which will stretch from Venice/Trieste in northern Italy via Slovenia and Hungary to Lviv in western Ukraine. The tunnel will take on 60 per cent of rail traffic between Ukraine and the EU.
The construction was financed by the EBRD with a $ 40 million loan, while the European Investment Bank (EIB) extended a €55 million loan. The project was also supported by a grant provided by the European Union, and technical assistance provided by the EU and Austria.
It replaces a 130-year-old railway tunnel built under the Austro-Hungarian empire and will almost quadruple the current capacity from 12 trains per day to 46. The tunnel will significantly increase facilities for the export of Ukrainian products, while reducing journey times between Lviv, the largest city in western Ukraine and a major business hub, and Chop, a town near the borders of Hungary and the Slovak Republic.
Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko opened the tunnel today. The EBRD was represented by Sevki Acuner, Country Director, Ukraine, who said: “The new tunnel is a positive example of the contemporary relationship between Ukraine and Europe. It will unblock the worst bottleneck in the east-west transport corridor. More importantly, it symbolises Ukraine’s aspiration to be integrated into the EU economy and to become part of the 21st century European family. This aspiration is now supported by proper action.”
The EBRD is the largest international financial investor in Ukraine. To date, the Bank has made a cumulative commitment of almost €12.1 billion across some 400 projects since the start of its operations in the country in 1993.