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Premetro in Kraków — the genesis of the concept

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Krakó­w’s public transportation

Kraków holds the posi­ti­on of a regio­nal lea­der in modern busi­ness ser­vices, which is con­nec­ted with many invest­ments that chan­ge the urban infra­st­ruc­tu­re. Krakó­w’s trans­por­ta­ti­on needs will grow steadi­ly over the years due to popu­la­ti­on migra­ti­ons and fur­ther popu­la­ti­on growth. The­se fac­tors speak in favor of crea­ting a modern and effi­ci­ent trans­por­ta­ti­on system.

Cur­r­ent­ly, public trans­por­ta­ti­on in Kraków con­sists of a bus and tram net­work, addi­tio­nal­ly sup­por­ted by rail­road and pri­va­te car­ri­ers. The tram net­work faces several signi­fi­cant pro­blems. Chal­len­ges inclu­de insuf­fi­ci­ent den­si­ty in the north of the city, the limi­ted capa­ci­ty of the 1st ring road, or the incre­a­sing num­ber of derai­led vehi­cles,” points out Mich­ał Bogucki, Pro­ject Mana­ger, ILF Con­sul­ting Engi­neers Polska.

The pro­blem of rail trans­por­ta­ti­on in Kraków is also the average ope­ra­ting speed of Krakó­w’s trams. In 2017, it was 14.2 km/h, while in 2003 it was 15 km/h. This app­lies not only to the­se vehi­cles — the average ope­ra­ting speed of buses was still noti­ce­ab­ly hig­her in 2006 (18 km/h), while in 2017 it almost equa­led the average speed of trams (15.2 km/h). The hig­hest aver­a­ges are obtai­ned by the Kraków Fast Tram — about 20.5 km/h (the value should be abo­ve 24 km/h) — accord­ing to data given in „Sci­en­ti­fic works of the War­saw Uni­ver­si­ty of Tech­no­lo­gy. Transportation”.

Sec­tions of the rou­te in the down­town area are an important obsta­cle to the incre­a­se in average tram ope­ra­ting speeds. On streets whe­re the tracks are not sepa­ra­ted from the road­way, tra­vel time incre­a­ses and delays occur. The main rea­son for this is the fact that the tracks are blo­cked by cars which are par­ked ille­gal­ly,” points out Mich­ał Bogucki, Pro­ject Mana­ger at ILF Con­sul­ting Engi­neers Polska.

Col­li­si­on-free tran­sit on the cen­tral sec­tion can bring signi­fi­cant impro­ve­ments in tra­vel times for trams. Our work on the „Fea­si­bi­li­ty stu­dy for the con­struc­tion of fast, col­li­si­on-free rail trans­port in Kraków” star­ted alrea­dy in 2018 — he adds.

Why a premetro

Seven rou­tes were ela­bo­ra­ted as part of the „Fea­si­bi­li­ty stu­dy on the con­struc­tion of fast and col­li­si­on-free rail trans­port in Kraków”. Each of the vari­ants was ana­ly­zed in terms of 6–7 opti­ons of imple­men­ta­ti­on. Nume­rous simu­la­ti­ons and ana­ly­ses of the pro­po­sed opti­ons were made in terms of socie­ty, demo­gra­phics, and plan­ned invest­ments. The seven best rou­te alter­na­ti­ves were ana­ly­zed in detail in terms of the three pos­si­ble modes of trans­port, which means that 21 invest­ment alter­na­ti­ves were stu­di­ed. Each of them was veri­fied in terms of a num­ber of cri­te­ria inclu­ding the anti­ci­pa­ted num­ber of pas­sen­gers, average tra­vel time, pre­ser­va­ti­on con­di­ti­ons, trans­fer hubs, city-forming poten­ti­al or appro­xi­ma­te cost of trans­por­ting one pas­sen­ger. On this basis, the three most con­ve­ni­ent solu­ti­ons were selec­ted. In total over 300 km of pos­si­ble alter­na­ti­ves were verified.

In the next step, a detail­ed con­cept of 3 vari­ants was deve­lo­ped — tech­ni­cal solu­ti­ons were spe­ci­fied, inclu­ding the loca­ti­on of stops, sta­ti­ons and the rou­te of the line. The method of power sup­ply for each of the vari­ants was also ana­ly­sed, as well as the imple­men­ta­ti­on tech­no­lo­gy and the selec­tion of rol­ling stock appro­pria­te for the anti­ci­pa­ted pas­sen­ger flows. The works were car­ri­ed out in clo­se coope­ra­ti­on with spe­cia­lists in monu­ment pro­tec­tion, experts from the Kraków Uni­ver­si­ty of Tech­no­lo­gy and AGH Uni­ver­si­ty of Sci­ence and Tech­no­lo­gy, as well as the City Hall. This was the most dif­fi­cult sta­ge due to the con­cern for the cen­tu­ries-old tra­di­ti­on and his­to­ri­cal heri­ta­ge of the City of Kraków, which requi­red nume­rous con­sul­ta­ti­ons and arran­ge­ments. As many as 8 revi­si­ons of the ent­i­re pro­ject docu­men­ta­ti­on were pre­pa­red as part of this pha­se only. The first relea­ses took place later in 2019.

More than 1,100 pages of tech­ni­cal ana­ly­sis and more than 280 design drawings for the land use (i.e., exits, under­ground cor­ri­dors, and sta­ti­ons) and 3D models were produced.

Then a cost esti­ma­te, envi­ron­men­tal ana­ly­sis (envi­ron­men­tal impact assess­ment of the invest­ment), insti­tu­tio­nal ana­ly­sis (i.e. which enti­ty should car­ry out such an invest­ment in the future) and a sche­du­le of ten­ders and con­struc­tion exe­cu­ti­on were pre­pa­red. The cost ana­ly­sis took into account both the invest­ment cos­ts con­nec­ted with the con­struc­tion of a given vari­ant and the ope­ra­ting cos­ts con­nec­ted with its main­ten­an­ce. It was also veri­fied whe­ther the city will be able to cover cur­rent expen­ses con­nec­ted with the func­tio­n­ing of the given option.

Pre­pa­ra­ti­on of such a huge pro­ject that chan­ges the face of the urban infra­st­ruc­tu­re is a big respon­si­bi­li­ty. At the end of the work — in the second quar­ter of 2021 — we recom­men­ded the best solu­ti­on in terms of effi­ci­en­cy, finan­cial pro­fi­ta­bi­li­ty, safe­ty, risk, social and envi­ron­men­tal fac­tors — exp­lains Mich­ał Bogucki, Pro­ject Mana­ger, ILF Con­sul­ting Engi­neers Pol­s­ka. The opti­mal solu­ti­on tur­ned out to be the vari­ant of pre-metro fast tram — i.e. trams with the use of tun­nels in the most cri­ti­cal sec­tions. This vari­ant ful­fil­led all the most important assump­ti­ons (e.g. col­li­si­on-free cros­sing of the most cri­ti­cal sec­tions and hig­her tran­sit speed) and at the same time is more cost-effec­ti­ve and pos­si­ble to finan­ce wit­hin the assump­ti­ons of the city­’s finan­cial plan” he adds.

The ana­ly­zed vari­ant of the pre­me­tro „shut­tle” did not find invest­ment jus­ti­fi­ca­ti­on. The metro vari­ant was an attrac­ti­ve opti­on — a fast and col­li­si­on-free solu­ti­on, but it would not fit into the cur­rent assump­ti­ons of the city­’s finan­cial plan.

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Underground construction – the future of cities?

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Cities are star­ting to run out of free space. By 2060, the worl­d’s popu­la­ti­on will exceed 10 bil­li­on peop­le, accord­ing to pre­dic­tions of the United Nati­ons. Popu­la­ti­on growth, migra­ti­on and cli­ma­te chan­ges cau­se that in the future the use of under­ground infra­st­ruc­tu­re may beco­me a neces­si­ty. Tun­nels are a well-known inven­ti­on, but is it pos­si­ble to move almost an ent­i­re city under­ground? An expert from ILF Poland ans­wers this question.

Tun­nels and their advantages

The world-famous under­ground trans­por­ta­ti­on tun­nels allow to shor­ten the way or make it easier. A ride through a long rou­te, dril­led into a mas­si­ve moun­tain, is always a gre­at attrac­tion and varie­ty for tra­ve­ling peop­le. Howe­ver, not only such tun­nels are avail­ab­le to us — we can also move under the bot­tom of the river or the sea. The Eng­lish Chan­nel, con­nec­ting Gre­at Bri­tain and Fran­ce, which length is over 50 kilo­me­ters, is a very important invest­ment, allowing free tra­vel bet­ween the­se coun­tries, without having to build com­plex port infrastructure.

Buil­ding tun­nels is expen­si­ve, but I think they are the future. They have one gre­at advan­ta­ge — they can hide under­ground what we don’t need on the sur­face, such as car traf­fic. This is important, becau­se then we do not inter­fe­re with green are­as, we do not col­li­de with what peop­le would like to do on the sur­face. A tun­nel usual­ly shor­tens or eases our way — says Mar­cin Przepiór­ka, Depu­ty Direc­tor, Trans­port Infra­st­ruc­tu­re Area, ILF Con­sul­ting Engi­neers Pol­s­ka. For examp­le, the tun­nel under Swi­na River allows fast, unhin­de­red traf­fic in both direc­tions, without invol­ving port infra­st­ruc­tu­re. In the case of moun­tain­ous are­as, the tun­nel clear­ly shor­tens the distance to be tra­vel­led,” he explains.

More and more often, bes­i­des the con­struc­tion of under­ground tun­nels, the­re are gro­wing ide­as to bring more parts of cities, and espe­cial­ly their infra­st­ruc­tu­re, into the under­ground world.

 

Will we be living underground?

The idea of hiding (almost) ent­i­re cities under­ground starts to be more and more bold­ly pre­sen­ted and dis­cus­sed on the world sta­ge. Of cour­se part of the infra­st­ruc­tu­re will still remain on the sur­face, such as resi­den­ti­al buil­dings, parks or bicy­cle paths.

The­re’ s a trend forming that not only tun­nels, but ent­i­re cities can be brought under­ground. Of cour­se, this is a cer­tain meta­phor, becau­se it is not pos­si­ble to liter­al­ly hide ever­ything below the sur­face of the earth — peop­le need day­light to live. Howe­ver, not­hing stands in the way of moving all the traf­fic, like the metro, below. We can also add all the net­works necessa­ry for the city to ope­ra­te, which is alrea­dy hap­pe­ning, or for examp­le water reser­voirs — in fact ever­ything that is pos­si­ble and not necessa­ry on the sur­face — exp­lains Mar­cin Przepiór­ka, Depu­ty Direc­tor, Trans­port Infra­st­ruc­tu­re Area, ILF Con­sul­ting Engi­neers Pol­s­ka. In the abo­ve ground part we will keep green are­as, resi­den­ti­al buil­dings, parks, side­walks. The result is a green city, a city with zero noi­se emis­si­ons, becau­se under­ground traf­fic can be damp­ened, and if we enter the era of electric cars in trans­port, the pro­blem will be com­ple­te­ly eli­mi­na­ted. With pro­per ven­ti­la­ti­on of under­ground spaces, we can crea­te cities that are pol­lu­ti­on-free,” he concludes.

 

It’s alrea­dy happening

Plans for under­ground cities are alrea­dy being pre­pa­red, and their pro­jects are being crea­ted on a grand sca­le. The Line — the line­ar city of the future — will con­nect the Red Sea coast with the north-wes­tern cor­ner of Sau­di Ara­bia. Accord­ing to the assump­ti­ons, about a mil­li­on peop­le will live in it, and its length will reach 170 kilo­me­ters! Des­pi­te this, it will be pos­si­ble to pro­vi­de all the basic needs of life wit­hin a few minu­tes’ walk. This pos­si­bi­li­ty will remain thanks to the abo­ve-ground part, which will be an oasis for pede­stri­ans and cyc­lists. Ser­vices and trans­port will be loca­ted under­ground. The cost of the ent­i­re invest­ment is esti­ma­ted at 500 bil­li­on USD.

Howe­ver, loo­king at the invest­ments of our wes­tern neigh­bors and tho­se in Poland in a more down-to-earth way, it can be seen that the trend is noticeable.

In Ger­ma­ny, the­re is a trend to lay electri­cal lines under­ground, in tun­nels. While the low vol­ta­ge line does not requi­re any spe­cial mea­su­res, the issue is more dif­fi­cult with hig­her vol­ta­ge (110–220 kV). We can’t lay a power trans­mis­si­on line in the ground, becau­se the vol­ta­ge is so high that it requi­res spe­cial tun­nels,” says Mar­cin Przepiór­ka, Depu­ty Direc­tor, Trans­port Infra­st­ruc­tu­re Area, ILF Con­sul­ting Engi­neers Poland. The­re will be more invest­ments of this type. The tech­no­lo­gy of buil­ding under­ground is beco­m­ing more and more popu­lar — let’s look, for examp­le, at the sou­thern ring road of War­saw, which is lar­ge­ly hid­den under the sur­face. The pro­cess of trans­fer­ring parts of the city to this zone is hap­pe­ning befo­re our eyes — he adds.

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Fast, collision-free rail transportation system in Krakow

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ILF has been working to find the most effi­ci­ent, reli­able, and finan­cial­ly via­ble opti­on for buil­ding new rail trans­por­ta­ti­on in Kra­kow sin­ce Sep­tem­ber 2018. For that pur­po­se, the com­pa­ny con­duc­ted exten­si­ve ana­ly­ses taking into account, among others, plan­ning and finan­cial con­di­ti­ons, cha­rac­te­ris­tics and eva­lua­ti­on of exis­ting trans­por­ta­ti­on sub­sys­tems, traf­fic ana­ly­ses for the rou­tes, tech­ni­cal, envi­ron­men­tal and eco­no­mic ana­ly­ses, geo­lo­gi­cal stu­dies, as well as a finan­cial plan. An important aspect which had impact on the pre­sen­ted solu­ti­ons was the cour­se of the rou­tes in the area of the Old Town and the monu­ments loca­ted the­re, which requi­red detail­ed con­sul­ta­ti­ons with the muni­ci­pal and pro­vin­cial pre­ser­va­ti­on ser­vices. ILF Polan­d’s task was also to obtain opi­ni­ons from nume­rous enti­ties regar­ding the pro­po­sed solutions.

Three types of public trans­por­ta­ti­on were ana­ly­zed – metro line, pre­me­tro „shut­tle” and pre­me­tro fast tram­way. Seven vari­ants of rou­tes in the east-west direc­tion in the nort­hern part of the city were taken into account, inclu­ding four sub-opti­ons for each of them, which were sub­jec­ted to traf­fic ana­ly­ses and the pos­si­bi­li­ty of using the abo­ve-men­tio­ned means of trans­port was che­cked. The ana­ly­sis cove­r­ed seven time hori­zons up to 2058. This was fol­lo­wed by an opti­miz­a­ti­on of the tram­way and bus sys­tems. In total, more than 300 com­bi­na­ti­ons of cal­cu­la­ti­ons were per­for­med, resul­ting in three alter­na­ti­ves for fur­ther tech­ni­cal ana­ly­ses. ILF Poland, having con­si­de­red the results, recom­men­ded the choice of pre­me­tro fast tram­way as the most advan­ta­ge­ous solu­ti­on in finan­cial, social, and func­tio­n­al terms.

Accord­ing to the assump­ti­ons, the sug­gested pre­me­tro vari­ant is a approx. 22 km long rou­te with 32 stops, con­nec­ting Wzgór­ze Krzesła­wi­ckie with the area of Jas­no­górs­ka street in Prąd­nik Biały. The length of the tun­nel sec­tion of this rou­te is to be 6.6 km, and the over­ground sec­tion (fly­o­ver) — 1.4 km. The remai­ning part of the rou­te is to run on the ground. In the stu­dy, ILF Poland pro­po­sed divi­ding the sec­tion into three sta­ges, for which the plan­ned com­mis­sio­ning date has been set for 2033 — 2037. The esti­ma­ted num­ber of pas­sen­gers tra­vel­ling during rush hours by the new means of trans­por­ta­ti­on may amount to about 14 thousand peop­le, and the cost of imple­men­ting the ent­i­re task is about 6 bil­li­on zlo­tys gross.

On June 7th, 2021 ILF Poland pre­sen­ted the most important assump­ti­ons of the stu­dy at a press con­fe­rence in Krakow.

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The City of Bydgoszcz with a huge ecological investment

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ILF Con­sul­ting Engi­neers Pol­s­ka will pre­pa­re pro­ject docu­men­ta­ti­on for the invest­ment of con­struc­tion and recon­struc­tion of storm­water drai­na­ge sys­tem and adap­t­ati­on of rain­wa­ter drai­na­ge net­work to cli­ma­te chan­ge in the city of Bydgoszcz. The pro­ject will be imple­men­ted on behalf of IDS BUD S.A.

The main aim of the pro­ject is to adjust the storm­water drai­na­ge sys­tem in Bydgoszcz to the cur­rent and plan­ned land use. The invest­ment is to pro­tect the city against the effects of hea­vy rains and lar­ge amounts of rain­wa­ter and snow­melt – that is to mini­mi­ze floo­ding of buil­dings and floo­ding of streets, as well as to enab­le water reten­ti­on and its use in dry periods.

ILF Polan­d’s respon­si­bi­li­ties inclu­de com­pre­hen­si­ve design ser­vices, inclu­ding pre­pa­ra­ti­on of the buil­ding per­mit design, detail­ed design and as-built docu­men­ta­ti­on, as well as aut­hor’s super­vi­si­on. The ser­vices also inclu­de con­sul­ta­ti­ons with admi­nis­tra­tors and muni­ci­pal enti­ties, obtai­ning a buil­ding per­mit or noti­fi­ca­ti­on of work for the construction/ recon­struc­tion of storm­water drai­na­ge sys­tems and secon­da­ry collisions.

Con­struc­tion and recon­struc­tion of storm­water drai­na­ge sys­tem is a huge eco­lo­gi­cal invest­ment car­ri­ed out by the muni­ci­pal water­works — points out Bea­ta Nepels­ka-Kula, Pro­jects Depart­ment Direc­tor at ILF Con­sul­ting Engi­neers Pol­s­ka. The works are con­duc­ted in par­ti­cu­lar­ly dif­fi­cult con­di­ti­ons due to the city cen­ter — it is con­nec­ted with den­se buil­dings and uti­li­ty infra­st­ruc­tu­re as well as the neces­si­ty to chan­ge the traf­fic orga­niz­a­ti­on. Howe­ver, they are necessa­ry to impro­ve the qua­li­ty of life in the city and have a real impact on the envi­ron­ment. We are glad that by using our design expe­ri­ence in simi­lar invest­ments, we can be a part of such an important pro­ject — she adds.

The pro­ject is co-finan­ced by the Euro­pean Uni­on Cohe­si­on Fund. The works are plan­ned to be com­ple­ted in 2022.

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Lwówek compressor station

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ILF Con­sul­ting Engi­neers Pol­s­ka signed a con­tract with Gas Trans­mis­si­on Ope­ra­tor GAZ-SYSTEM and is to ela­bo­ra­te the con­cep­tu­al design for the com­pres­sor sta­ti­on, which is to be con­struc­ted in pro­xi­mi­ty of Lwó­wek Trans­mis­si­on Node, loca­ted in Zębów. This is ano­t­her pro­ject rela­ted to the imple­men­ta­ti­on of the Bal­tic Pipe invest­ment and the North-South Gas Cor­ri­dor, in which ILF will participate.
The com­pa­ny is to ela­bo­ra­te the con­cep­tu­al design of the com­pres­sor sta­ti­on, defi­ne envi­ron­men­tal, tech­ni­cal and eco­no­mic con­di­ti­ons of its con­struc­tion and ope­ra­ti­on. The pos­si­ble loca­ti­ons of the com­pres­sor sta­ti­on will be ana­ly­zed in terms of land acqui­si­ti­on and for­mal-legal aspects. The con­cep­tu­al design will take into account the coope­ra­ti­on of the plan­ned com­pres­sor sta­ti­on with both exis­ting and future infra­st­ruc­tu­re in the scope of expec­ted gas trans­mis­si­on sce­n­a­ri­os. ILF will also ela­bo­ra­te the time sche­du­le for invest­ment pre­pa­ra­ti­on and implementation.

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