How a new train tunnel brings Ukraine closer to the EU
The modern tunnel at Beskyd in the Carpathian mountains will help Ukraine at least double traffic west and unblock the worst bottleneck in a new transport corridor spanning Europe.
Our new immersive long read "Of railways and long-distance relationships" uses video, pictures and text to ask: will the tunnel do more than give Ukraine’s economy a boost? Might it also signal a new era for political engagement with the countries of today’s EU?
Ukraine does need a new economic direction in which to travel. Until 2014, its biggest trade partner was Russia. Then conflict with Moscow slashed Ukraine’s exports to Russia - though now Ukraine’s trade is being displaced, to the Middle East, the Far East and Europe.
The part of Ukraine around Beskyd – where an old tunnel on the original railway line was first built in 1886 – was, back then, Austrian, and part of the 19th-century Europe of empires.
The decay of the old railway tunnel thanks to multiple geopolitical misfortunes reads like a metaphor for what went wrong for that old Europe.
But Ukrainians are now keen to engage both economically and politically with a more forward-looking 21st-century Europe.