“Moscow closer to Paris thanks to rail,” thus Gazeta Wyborcza welcomes a plan of opening a new railway connection between Moscow and Berlin via Poland with the prospect of extending it to Paris as of 2012. The official launch of the project is scheduled for June at Third Forum of the Russian and Polish Regions to be held in the Russian capital. Russian Railways (RZD) aims at cutting the trip to Berlin (currently about 27 hours) by two hours by the end of 2011 and by another eight in 2013 when a high speed line is to link Moscow and Berlin. The shortening of the journey time will be also possible thanks to new cars with a Spanish-made Talgo automatic gauge changing system (it now takes nearly 2 hours to switch from the European to Russian gauge at the Polish-Belarusian border).
Meanwhile Polish state railways (PKP) hope to join the Russian project although officials admit no “talks” have been held on the subject. Gazeta Wyborcza ponders the “economic sense” of the new railway links, stressing the fact that according to estimates, “railway could be competitive on distances up to 750 km” (on longer hauls planes remain cheaper). The distance from Moscow to Berlin is over 1600 km. Hence there must be other reasons for the new railway connections with the West. “Russians want to show they have money and they are not afraid of investing in infrastructure”, explains Adrian Furgalski, director of the Railway Business Forum.