Regional planning and development of transport connections (Part 1)

by Pylypenko Vadym

On January 28, 2021, a Working meeting within the 1st partnership meeting in Hungary of the project “Modern Border Infrastructure – a Successful Carpathian Region” (MOBI), implemented with the financial support of the ENI CBC Programme Hungary-Slovakia-Romania-Ukraine 2014-2020, was held.

The aim of the project is: to create a sustainable platform for effective cross-border mobility of people and goods by improving transport and border infrastructure, strengthening cooperation between governments and professional organizations aimed at developing transport links in the border regions of Ukraine, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary. The project envisages the development of a joint Mobility Plan, which will include regional plans of each border region in the field of transport and border infrastructure, development of railway services, international air services, etc.

The meeting was initiated by the Self-Government of the Szabolcs – Szatmár – Bereg region (Hungary), and was held by combining the meeting of Ukrainian partners and experts in the conference hall and the video-conference connection from Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Ukraine. The meeting was attended by the representatives of all partner organisations of the MOBI project, namely: representatives of the Self-government of the Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg region (Hungary), Košice self-governing region (Slovakia), Maramureș County Council (Romania), Territorial Administrative Unit of Satu Mare County (Romania), Road service in Zakarpattia oblast (Ukraine) and International Association of Regional Development Institutions IARDI (Ukraine).

3 panel discussions were focused on the following issues:

  • Regional planning and development of transport connections
  • Railway connections in the Carpathian region
  • Aviation connections in the Carpathian region.

Participants were greeted by Seszták Oszkár, President of the General Assembly of the Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg region (Hungary) and Oleksiy Petrov, Head of the Transcarpathian Regional Council (Ukraine).

Oszkár Seszták, President of the General Assembly of Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County, in his welcoming speech stressed that the idea of ​​this project was formulated four years ago together with Ukrainian partners. It was then that negotiations began with the current partners to develop the project and define its goals, in the building of the self-government of the Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg region in Nyíregyháza. He noted that the self-government is implementing a number of international projects and is pleased to have several projects with the same number of partners. Several years ago, the ENPI project jointly developed the Carpathian Euroregion 2020 Strategy, which prioritizes mobility and border compatibility. The competitiveness of a country or region is mainly determined through the availability and development of infrastructure. It is important that all existing motorways to the border are to create trade routes in the European Union and in general, to be more compatible and faster on the European continent, and meet the needs of freight, road transport and mobility. The most important transport investments of Hungary, which will be completed in 2021, are the elements of the transport corridor of the Via Carpathia expressway connecting Central and Eastern Europe and Hungary will be the first to build it on its territory, as well as the largest intermodal terminal in Europe in Fényeslitke.

Oleksiy Petrov, Head of the Transcarpathian Regional Council (Ukraine), thanked Oszkár Seszták, President of the General Assembly of the Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg Region for organizing the meeting, congratulated colleagues from Ukraine, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania and noted the importance of transport potential for both Ukraine and Zakarpattia oblast in general. It was emphasized that last year the Transcarpathian Regional Council agreed the Regional Development Strategy, which is focused on the development of transit and tourism potentials of the Zakarpattia oblast. The state and regional authorities are making a lot of efforts to implement the Strategy. Among all oblasts of Ukraine, Zakarpattia oblast has built the most roads, moreover, the oblast has made serious progress in the direction of forming documents for land allocation and starting the construction of international checkpoints. First of all, we are talking about two international checkpoints, which are marked in intergovernmental agreements: Dyda (Ukraine) – Beregdaroc (Hungary), where the fifth pan-European transport corridor is being built together with Hungarian partners, as well as the international checkpoint Bila Tserkva (Ukraine) – Sighetu Marmaţiei (Romania) and others.

As another new element of mobility, the project will build a 4.35 km long cycle path from Tysabyken till Tysapeterfalva.  Soon the planning of the air transport development opportunities will start, as well as development of new approaches to small aviation flights as part of another winning project with the financial support of the ENI CBC Programme. Hungary-Slovakia-Romania-Ukraine 2014-2020 “Carpathian small aviation – new approaches to the mobility of people and goods in the Carpathian region.” The strategy is of great importance if its elements are implemented in specific projects.

Natalia Nosa, Project Coordinator and Head of the International Association of Regional Development Institutions “IARDI” (Ukraine) presented the main objectives and activities of the project “Modern Border Infrastructure – Successful Carpathian Region” (MOBI), which provides a sustainable platform for effective cross-border mobility of people and goods improving transport and border infrastructure, strengthening cooperation between self-government bodies and professional organizations whose activities affect the development of transport links in the border regions of Ukraine, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania.

The project envisages the development of a joint Mobility Plan, which will synchronize the regional plans of each border region in the field of transport and border infrastructure, development of international transport corridors, rail, international aviation, etc.

The structure of the Joint Mobility Plan has been developed and disseminated to stakeholders for expert advice, work has begun on studying the current situation and identifying locations for the development of transport networks and transport hubs in border regions.

A number of thematic discussions on the development of transport and border infrastructure, rail and air services in the Carpathian region are currently under way. In the future it is also planned to raise the issue of water transport opportunities, the creation of a river port in the Upper Tisza.

The first session of the partnership meeting was dedicated to regional planning in the field of transport and border infrastructure development. The following speeches were prepared:

Makszim Györgyné Tímea Nagy and Dr. Zoltán Kovács, representatives of the Nyíregyháza university, experts from Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg region, revealed the main aspects of regional planning in the field of transport and border infrastructure development in the Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg region. infrastructure is one of the most effective tools for regional development. The main goal for Regional Development is an improved quality of life and competitiveness to which the infrastructure development necessarily belongs. Areas with developed infrastructure have become more valuable these days. Capital demonstratively prefers the areas where the infrastructure conditions are available. That’s why the economic differences between different Regions of the country may be explained by the infrastructural backward. The most important technical infrastructure elements for special planning are transport systems.

As the implementation of synergies may be well-monitored in case of technical infrastructure, it has become the most influential factor in socioeconomic life. For example, highways by providing greater spatial mobility for economic mobility are important deployment factors for business investments.

The development of transport networks is one of the fundamental drivers for regional development. Regional accessibility is one of the most important Economics settling factors today. It is essential for the development of the region to create conditions for modern passenger and freight transport in all sectors. Indirect aspects of the development of infrastructure multiply the other aspects in many areas in socioeconomic life. There are several approaches in examining the effects of infrastructure. One is the horizontal effect and the other is the sectoral effect. Horizontal impact means the development of transport infrastructure components is not an end itself, but means the economic development’s goal. For example, the horizontal effect means to increase efficiency, well-being and raise living standards. The accents of the sectoral impact mean that Infrastructure has a positive impact on all sectors of the economy.

At the same time the infrastructure of areas and settlements determines the socioeconomic Situation and the direct opportunities and limitations of Development.

The length of state roads of the Szabolcs-Szatmár Bereg County is constantly increasing, and is approaching 32000 kilometers in 2019. The length on the first-order and second-order main roads did not change significantly between 2005 and 2020, The intercounty section of the Highway Was built in 2016. The length of the highway within the County Is 93 km. The length of bicycle paths is constantly increasing since 2007 approaching 3500 km by 2019.

One of the Hungarian government priority goals is transport infrastructure development. The main goal in that field before 2030 is to provide an opportunity to reach the nearest section of the highway from everywhere in 30 minutes.  Within the development of motorways there are two national priority aims:

1) The cities which have a county status in Hungary should have direct access to the highway’s network. 18 of them already have direct access to the highway’s network, including Nyíregyháza. Several cities joined the strategy since it was announced: Szombathely, Békéscsaba, Eger and Szolnok.

2) Extension of the motorways to the national borders. The current end the M3 motorway is now near Vásárosnamény and opportunity is given to continuation of the motorway to Ukrainian and Romanian borders.

The following highway development projects are extremely important: 

– M3 extension, which consists of highway, 1 bridge over the Tisza river, 1 simple rest place on each side, 1 border checkpoint. 

– construction of M49 motorway’s section (origin of the section is to connect the existing M3 motorway with the M49 in two locations)

– construction of М34 motorway’s section. At present, road transport of goods between Hungary and Ukraine is possible through the checkpoint Záhony – Chop. There is a need to connect the road infrastructure to use the M34 at full capacity.

Every version of the M3 extension will cross the Tisza river at several places. The construction of bridges is always very expensive and very slow, due to it the construction of that section of the M3 is expected to be expensive. If the section will be constructed, that motorway will be the fourth motorway that reaches the Hungarian national border

Currently the section is under planning, there is no information about the precise time of beginning of the construction. The extension’s length is 23 km, formation of the route: 2 x 2   lanes (Highway without stop Lane, but maybe developed into the motorway), 1 bridge over the Tisza river near to Vásárosnamény, 1 simple rest place on each side, 1 border station, preliminary terms of construction: 37 months.

The next project is the design and construction of the M49 highway. The aim is to connect the M3 motorway with the M49 near the Őr and Jármi villages.

The construction consists of two sections:  the first section is From M3 to the Ököritófülpös village (25 km), And the second section is from Ököritófülpös to the Csenger (national border – 20 km). The both sections are under the planning now. the main parameters are:

Formation of the route – 2 x 2 lanes, 4 bridges (over the railway and other routes) 1 simple place for Rest on each side, 1 border checkpoint, 2 stations for weight measuring

 The next point was Construction of M34 motorway’s section to Záhony – Csap (Chop) border station. The existing transport infrastructure is designed considering that fact in both countries. Until the new section and new border station will be constructed the role of M34 will be important in road transportation of goods towards Ukraine. The section of M34 is under preparation by national infrastructure development company, and the planned time of the beginning of the construction is 2023. Main parameters: length of the section is 36 Km; formation of the route: 2 x 2 lanes

17 bridges over the railway and the other routes, 1 simple place for rest on each side.

Next strategic object – construction of the intermodal terminal East West Gate near Fényeslitke which is already under construction. The investors and developers say that the terminal plays an important role to get in the new Silk way. Main technical parameters:

The size of the area is 85 ha, the maximum capacity is going to be 1 million TEU per year, the railway crane trucks Are 850 m long, and they will be suitable for receiving 740m long complete trains. The main task of the terminal is to provide connection between standard and wide gauge railway, as well as road and railway.

The Cranes of terminal will be able to handle 45’’ containers; the cranes will be capable to handle cranable and non-cranable semi-trailers, the terminal will have 4 mobile container loading vehicles, 5 terminal tractors and 10 terminal semi-trailers.

The operating software will be able to connect with customers online (5G). The value of investments is approximately 62 million EUR.

University of Nyíregyháza has an agreement with the East West Gate and will prepare the specialists in logistics in the future.

The terminal will be able to use NiKRASA system (Non-cranable semi-trailers may be cranable). Following its handover, it will be the largest and the most modern onshore intermodal terminal In Europe, which uses the railway gauge change.

Eduard Maliar, Director of the Department of Infrastructure, Development and Maintenance of the Network of Public Roads of Local Importance and Housing and Communal Services of the Transcarpathian Regional State Administration (Ukraine) presented the possibilities of regional planning in the field of transport and border infrastructure development; Eduard Malyar noted that the last meeting of the two Foreign Ministers of Ukraine and Hungary confirmed as a priority the construction of the 5th Pan-European Transport Corridor from Trieste and Ljubljana, which will connect with the M03 at the future international checkpoint to be built near Dyda. (Transcarpathia) – Beregdaroc (Hungary). To date, the Road Service in the Zakarpattia oblast is developing the relevant project documentation for the construction of the above road with access to the Kyiv-Chop highway M08. Directly by the President. Zelensky the priorities for the development of border infrastructure were identified, first of all, the international checkpoint Bila Tserkva – Sighetu Marmatiei is to be built. This checkpoint will connect the main highways of Ukraine, such as M09 and D18 from Romania. Thus, the main traffic flows now go through the international checkpoint Chop – Záhony, which is congested, and the maximum number of trucks creates huge queues. After the construction of this facility is completed, part of the trucks will be sent across the Romanian border at the checkpoint Bila Tserkva – Sighetu Marmatiei. According to the project of colleagues from the Romanian side, the construction of a four-lane bridge across the Tisza River is planned. At the level of Ukravtodor, the relevant pre-project documentation for the construction of the highway to the checkpoint has already been designed. In general, these issues are under the control of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine and the State Fiscal Service of Ukraine.

Eugene Luksha, coordinator of the GreenWheels project (Ukraine), revealed the main trends in the development of electric vehicles in the planning of cross-border transport infrastructure in the context of the GreenWheels project. On the example of the Green Wheels project, there is an opportunity to determine exactly how to establish cooperation. The aim of the Green Wheels project is to create favorable conditions for the growth of cross-border mobility of environmentally friendly and environmentally friendly transport – the electric vehicles. This project focuses on the junction of different sectors of activity, in particular its impact is expected as an infrastructure component (through the adaptation of transport infrastructure to the needs of electric vehicles). Also, the point are the climatic effects, which relate to the reduction of harmful emissions from mobile sources. Moreover, the electric vehicle sector means a reorientation of the entire sector of the economy, as it is the creation of new jobs, as well as new industrial facilities that are widely used for innovative development. At the moment, the development is more spontaneous.

The project will explore markets, build recharging stations, create an electric charging hub “Green Wheels” on the Ukrainian side with Zero emission technology – charging from alternative energy sources, in this case – solar power plants. The public is informed, partnerships are established, and the spatial planning of the cities of Slovakia, Hungary and Transcarpathia is promoted. 

Vasyl Markovych, representative of the Road Service in Zakarpattia Oblast, spoke about the peculiarities of the development of feasibility studies for the development of transport links in the Zakarpattia oblast.

Zakarpattia oblast is a unique region. It is located in the very west of Ukraine and borders with four countries: Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania. There is a 30-kilometer border with Poland, about 100 kilometers with Slovakia, 200 kilometers with Hungary and about 200 kilometers with Romania. Today there are 10 checkpoints in the Zakarpattia oblast: three with Slovakia, five with Hungary, and two with Romania. 3 of them are freight: Uzhhorod – Vyšné Nemecké, Chop – Záhony and Dyakovo – Halmeu. In general, the network of Zakarpattia oblast together with public roads is about 12 000 km, state roads – 928 km, local roads – 2500 km, so municipal and other roads are the rest. Given that, according to the recommendations of the European Union, checkpoints should be located between 7 and 15 km from each other, the feasibility studies considers options for the development of a network of checkpoints in order to create an opportunity to open new checkpoints. 

Given the existing three checkpoints with Slovakia, the opening of three more checkpoints is being considered: Ulič – Zabrod, Storozhnytsia – Záhor and Solomonovo – Čierna nad Tisou. The opening of the mentioned above checkpoints is being discussed in intergovernmental negotiations. The task of the Road Service and similar international projects is to provide a rationale for how the opening of checkpoints will contribute to the development of the economy as a whole. There are also developments regarding the opening of new checkpoints on the border with Hungary. The possibility of opening the Velyka Palad – Kispalád checkpoint is currently being considered.

The project “Modern Border Infrastructure – Successful Carpathian Region” (MOBI) carries out a small infrastructural part – reconstruction of the bicycle path Tysabyken – Tysapeterfalva, leading to and from the border checkpoint of Hungary and Ukraine “Tiszabecs (Hungary) – Vylok” (Ukraine) border crossing point Kispalád (Hungary) – Velyka Palad (Ukraine). This section of the road needs to be reconstructed to provide a circular bike path. The project of reconstruction of bicycle paths started in 2012 within the framework of the program “Bicycle without borders”. A section of the bicycle path towards the Vylok – Nevetlenfalu checkpoint has been built, and if 5 km of cycle paths will be built under this project, another 12 km of cycle paths to the Petrovo – Velyka Palad checkpoint will remain to be built. Due to this, the bicycle paths of the Zakarpattia region will be merged into the network of bicycle paths in Hungary. Also, under consideration are options for the construction of other bike paths.

Vasyl Markovych also informed about the development of feasibility studies for the following locations, which are defined by the Ukrainian side:

1. The section of the Košice – Mukachevo motorway connection near the Záhor (Slovakia) – Storozhnytsia (Ukraine) checkpoint

2. Section of the highway Ulič – Zabrod (Slovakia), and / or

3. Section of the highway in the direction of the Hungarian border between the settlements of Velyka Palad (Ukraine) and Kispalád (Hungary).

In addition, feasibility studies for the construction of 2 more locations in Slovakia and 2 locations in Hungary are being developed. Projects such as MOBI are strategically important for the planning and development of transport infrastructure on both sides of the border.

The first session concluded with discussions on the need to consolidate actions at the level of authorities and self-governments, professional institutions and expert groups on different sides of the Hungarian, Slovak, Romanian and Ukrainian borders on the reconstruction and construction of existing checkpoints, international transport routes, tourist routes and bicycle lanes, leading to and from border checkpoints (existing and prospective) in the Carpathian region. 

At the following sessions, the issues of railway and aviation connections were discussed, which were described in part 2 and part 3.

Press Center of the International Association “IARDI”

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