A tunnel linking Ukraine’s domestic rail lines with the pan-European transport network has officially opened for operations.
The Beskydy tunnel, which was inaugurated by Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko, passes through the mountains between the towns of Beskid and Skotarske and connects the Ukrainian rail network with Europe’s Corridor V.
It is expected to support nearly 60% of the rail traffic movement between Ukraine and the European Union.
The Corridor V will link Lviv in western Ukraine with Venice/Trieste in northern Italy passing through Slovenia and Hungary.
The project was financed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the European Investment Bank (EIB).
EBRD invested $40m into this project, while EIB spent €55m ($64.5m).
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Austria and the EU also provided technical assistance for the development of the tunnel, which required 130,000 tonnes of concrete and 8,000 tonnes of steel.
Beskydy Rail Tunnel is seismically stable, is 1,765m long, 10.5m high and 8.5m wide.
EBRD Ukraine country director Sevki Acuner 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.”
The new tunnel will replace a 130-year-old infrastructure and is expected to nearly quadruple the current capacity from 12 to 46 trains per day.
The Beskydy rail tunnel will reduce journey times between Lviv and another Ukrainian border town, Chop, in a bid to facilitate exports of domestic products to neighbouring countries.