Premetro in Kraków — the genesis of the conceptmore
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.