Major breakthrough in Beskyd tunnel construction

By Anton Usov

Major breakthrough in Beskyd tunnel construction

Major infrastructure project to improve safety and frequency of freight and passenger traffic between Ukraine and EU

Ukraine is moving an important step closer to Europe with the completion of the tunnel tube for a new transport connection under the Carpathian Mountains in the south-west of the country. The so-called Beskyd tunnel is being built by the Ukrainian construction firm Interbudmontazh and financed by a US$ 40 million loan provided by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and a parallel loan worth €55 million from the European Investment Bank (EIB).

The new double-track tunnel is set to replace the old single-track one, which was commissioned exactly 130 years ago, when the region was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The new tunnel will remove a major bottleneck in the European transport corridor V that links Ukraine with the European Union, by almost quadrupling capacity from the current 12 trains per day to 46 trains on completion of the tunnel.

The structure will be seismically stable and 1,765 metres long, 10.5 metres high and 8.5 metres high. The construction will require 130,000 tonnes of concrete and 8,000 tonnes of steel. The tunnel is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2017 or early 2018 and significantly reduce journey times between Lviv (in Western Ukraine) and Chop (near the borders of Hungary and the Slovak Republic).

Sevki Acuner, EBRD Director for Ukraine, said: “This is a very important project for Ukraine and Europe. Modern transport links will boost cross-border trade and cooperation, and bring people and businesses closer together. Better access will also allow the region to realise its potential as a destination for tourism and investment.”

Corridor V is one of the ten Pan-European transport corridors, defined in Crete in 1994; it runs from Venice and Trieste (Italy) via Ljubljana (Slovenia) and Budapest (Hungary) to Lviv (Ukraine).

The Beskyd tunnel is the first railway infrastructure project in Ukraine to which the contractual framework standards of the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC - Fédération Internationale Des Ingénieurs-Conseils) as well as the procurement policies of the EBRD were applied. It has become an important industry benchmark for transparency and efficiency. 

The EBRD is the largest international financial investor in Ukraine. As of 1 January 2016, the Bank had a total cumulative commitment of approximately €12 billion in 355 projects throughout the country. Last year alone the EBRD signed 30 transactions in the country for €1 billion.