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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.

Tram,On,The,Street,Of,Old,Town,In,Krakow,,Poland.

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.

Beautiful,Historic,Market,Square,At,Sunrise,,Krakow,,Poland

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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