UKRAINIAN Railways (UZ) has commenced construction of a 1435mm-gauge line between Uzhhorod and Chop on the Slovakian and Hungarian borders, a key step in integrating the Ukrainian network with the European Union (EU).

A track laying ceremony took place for the project on April 11, which was attended by the prime minister of Ukraine, Mr Denys Shmygal, and the UZ board chairman, Mr Yevhen Lyashchenko.

The project involves laying 22km of 1435mm-gauge track on the existing 1520mm-gauge line as well as reinforcing existing structures and upgrading signalling.

Project documentation and a feasibility study was completed in 2021-22 and Shymygal says that full construction will commence next month. Funding from the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) will finance 50% of the project, which is estimated to cost Hryvnia 1.3bn ($US 32.9m).

UZ says completion of the standard-gauge line will enable it to launch direct cross-border passenger services from Uzhhorod to destinations across Europe, transforming the station into a hub for international travel. It also expects the line to facilitate freight movements to and from the EU.

UZ is targeting electrification of the line as the next stage in the project and is seeking co-financing from the next round of CEF funding. It is also exploring the feasibility of extending the 1435mm-gauge line to Lviv.

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