The first section of Kraków premetro to be launched in 2025

In the spring of 2023, once the RCC decision (ZRID) is obtained, construction works for the tram route to Mistrzejowice will start. If everything goes according to plan, the new 4.5-kilometer track section – made in the public-private partnership formula – will be completed at the end of 2025.

On 30 January, a direct agreement was signed for the investment of Stage IV of the expansion of Kraków Fast Tram. The agreement, signed by the City representatives, the contractor (Gülermak) and the financing institutions, finalizes several years of documentation work and works on financing the largest transport project in Poland to be made in the public-private partnership formula.

– The tram route to Mistrzejowice is the largest transport project in the public-private partnership model in Poland. The fourth stage of the Kraków Fast Tram expansion is a 4.5-kilometer route between the terminus in Mistrzejowice and the intersection of Meissnera and Lema Streets – says Jacek Majchrowski, the President of Kraków.

Shortened travel time to the city center

Tracks will run from the intersection of Jana Pawła Avenue with Lema and Meissnera Streets, then along Meissnera, Młyńska, Lublańska, Dobrego Pasterza, Krzesławicka, Bohomolca, ks. Jancarza streets up to the existing terminus of Mistrzejowice. The investment is worth a total of PLN 1.92 billion.

– This connection will shorten travel time to the city center by approx. 12 minutes. Trams will be launched here at the end of 2025. The route includes a tunnel with a multi-level transfer hub in the vicinity of the Polsadu roundabout – adds Jacek Majchrowski.

The biggest PPP project in Poland

Pursuant to the agreement signed in December 2020 between the City of Kraków (the public entity) and the consortium of PPP Solutions Polska and Gülermak Ağır Sanayi İnşaat ve Taahhüt (the private partner), the latter is to secure financing, design, obtain the necessary construction consents and implement the tram route to Mistrzejowice. It will then take care of its infrastructure for 20 years. The city will take it over afterwards.

This is the biggest project of this kind in Poland. Kraków’s experience will serve as the basis for guidelines developed by other local governments wishing to use this formula to implement similar projects. The entity responsible for the project on behalf of the city is Kraków is Kraków Municipal Road Authority (ZDMK).

The European Investment Bank agreed to co-finance the investment. Other co-financing institutions are the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Bank Pekao SA and the Polish Development Fund (PFR).

– We are now waiting just for the RCC decision to authorize the implementation of the road investment. Actual works will begin in the second quarter of this year – says Jacek Majchrowski.

Kraków model for partnership

Public-Private Partnership is an investment model based on long-term cooperation of a public entity (e.g. a city, a commune) with a private partner. Benefits, as well as the responsibility involved in the cooperation, are split between both parties in line with an agreement whose purpose is to improve the quality of infrastructure and services available to residents.

– We realize that residents have been waiting for the construction of this route for a long time. We had this in mind in recent months while compiling hundreds of documents, holding complex negotiations and preparing to meet the stringent requirements of the financing institutions. Already today we can say that this unique project will set new standards and will be a role-model in Poland and across Europe. Working hard we adapted the project to the subsequent requirements set by the City of Kraków – we prepared the infrastructure to serve the future premetro and reduced the impact of the investment on the environment – says Bülent Özdemir, Country Director Poland with Gülermak.

The Kraków PPP model for the construction of KST IV assumes payment for the availability of infrastructure. This means that the city will pay a certain amount successively if the infrastructure is maintained to an appropriate standard and operational for tram traffic. As a consequence, we minimize interruptions in tram operations on this route.

The PPP leverages on the private party’s experience to build modern infrastructure and reduces investment costs throughout its life cycle.

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Financing documents signed – Final Closure

We’re proud and humbled to announce that we’ve signed the financing documents for Krakow Tram project as of December 2022. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, European Investment Bank and PFR are among the lenders financing the construction of KST IV!

Under the project structure, Gülermak has undertaken to provide equity, arrange financing from financial institutions, organize construction and subsequently maintain the tram line.

The financing represents the longest ever tenor achieved in a PLN financing in Poland and the largest loan ever in PLN in the infrastructure project. In addition, the financing includes a Mezzanine Debt tranche provided by PFR. Gülermak is also injecting its equity financing without any equity partner.

Financing for the Kraków tram in the PPP formula

Construction works will start immediately once the ZRID decision is ready – it is expected in Q1 2023.

“This is a pioneering project and establishes the benchmark with regard to PPP and finance documentation for the next generation of PPP Projects in Poland. Now, we have a well-structured PPP documentation, a first application of Direct Agreement between the Lenders and the Municipality and well-established parameters of financing in place. We should also congratulate Krakow Municipality and their advisors for their leadership against all the odds at a time of regional conflicts, volatile global economy and a high-inflationary environment. We’re also grateful to our lenders EBRD, EIB, PFR among others and our advisors, DLA, JK Law, CMS, Atkins, F1F9 and Indecs – says Turkekul Dogan, CEO, PPP Investments at Gülermak.

Among others, we and the lenders have prioritized environmental and social impact of the Project and applied highest international standards to achieve ‘green loan’ status and also with regard to impact of the project on people during construction and operation stages.

Tramway to Mistrzejowice – a benchmark for local governments

With this project, Krakow Municipality has also established a benchmark for successful delivery of the project among the public entitites and municipalities. The steps taken by the partners of the Kraków project will be a model for other local governments wishing to implement key investments without affecting debt ratios and current financing of other projects.

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Tramway to Mistrzejowice is the topic of a project group study

The designed tram route to Mistrzejowice has become the subject of a scientific analysis! Students of one of Kraków’s universities chose the planned investment for a case study to analyze a real, current and important matter in the field of public administration.

A task group of students from the Cracow University of Economics is working on a project as part of  Public Administration subject in the field of Public Economy and Administration. – We decided together that the construction of a tram route to Mistrzejowice is a topical, interesting and noticeable matter while the investment – in our opinion – is extremely necessary for the residents of Kraków. That is why we focused on this case and thought we would get to know its internal structures, people involved in the implementation of the project and its phases – says Joanna Ziółko, the representative of the task group.

PPP project in the spotlight of students

On top of the approach to investment planning (green areas, traffic noise), students were curious to investigate the rare formula of its implementation: PPP. A quick reminder: Public-Private Partnership is a model based on long-term cooperation of a public entity (e.g. a city, a commune) with a private partner. Benefits, as well as the responsibility involved in the cooperation, are split between both parties in line with an agreement whose purpose is to improve the quality of infrastructure and services available to residents. Thanks to this model, the contracting authority does not burden the creditworthiness by spreading the payment over many years of cooperation with a private partner.

By analyzing the design of the tramway to Mistrzejowice, we can learn what this form of cooperation is based on and how it looks in practice – says Joanna Ziółko.

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Where do construction deadlines come from? It’s all about scheduling!

How to estimate construction time? How to coordinate all tasks, taking into account weather conditions, the availability of subcontractors or the need to work under ‘live traffic’? We cover this on our latest story on time management at the construction site.

Recently, we wrote about how an investment implementation schedule is developed. One of its elements is the performance of construction works themselves, which also requires proper planning. It is extremely important that during their performance the general contractor does not skip any task and performs each at the right moment. This is why a separate construction site schedule is established.

A planning specialist asked about where it all starts, will surely answer: ‘from the assumptions’. The most important assumptions for any construction site are the so-called milestones: key dates in the life of a project, e.g. the date of launching and completing works. Once these are defined, you can start the four-stage process of developing a construction schedule.

Stage I – introducing tasks

The construction of a tram route is not limited to laying tracks and building an overhead power supply. A series of tasks is involved some of which – at first glance – may seem unrelated to the main purpose of the construction, like removing the old asphalt or laying a new gas pipe. The schedule must cover everything that is necessary to deliver the infrastructure in accordance with the assumptions and the order on time.

The same tasks at different stages of construction may appear in the schedule as general entries or items described in detail. – While on a very fresh construction site we break down tasks such as methods of ground strengthening, and we only mention finishing works, on a mature construction site we focus on painting walls at underground stops or driving in road barriers next to freshly laid asphalt – says Wiktor Walicki, a planning specialist with Gülermak, the company building the Tramway to Mistrzejowice.

Determining the sequence and degree of detail at the individual stages of construction is not enough to complete the works within the deadlines. It is still necessary to determine their duration, link them together and optimize them.

Stage II – Specifying the duration of individual tasks

How long will specific works take? This can be estimated using one of three methods. If the general contractor has completed works in similar conditions, it can rely on performance data from other construction sites. A good example would be the construction of diaphragm walls: knowing the surface of these walls to be dug per day, it can estimate the number of days required to complete a certain range on a construction site. However, this method can only be used for large jobs; it is not suitable for small ones.

A manager of works in a given discipline (e.g. grid) can also be helpful in estimating the duration of less repetitive tasks. Having information about the parameters of a task, he/she uses his/her own experience and calculates the projected period to complete the task. Laying a new gas pipe would be a good example. The duration here would depend on its depth, diameter, length of the section and obstacles to be dealt with.

Finally, if the general contractor hires a subcontractor for some tasks, the latter may provide estimates made on the basis of its practices. An example here would be the sowing of lawns or the installation of catenary poles for the trams.

Stage III – linking the tasks set

Although the order in which individual works are performed is important, it does not mean that they are always made one after the other on a construction site. Sometimes they can be handled simultaneously, other times coordinated so that they end at the same time. Other times, you can foresee an appropriate timing between the end of one task and the start of another.

– Imagine you have to excavate and make a fill next to each other. In this case, it seems logical to do both at the same time – you simply transfer the earth. On the other hand, if you pour a concrete slab, once it is completed you have to wait a few weeks for the concrete to dry in order to be able to put waterproofing on it – says Wiktor Walicki.

The planning specialist must therefore link the tasks in the so-called bundle. Often times, this is done taking into account various external factors, e.g. the need to keep roads passable, the supplies of construction materials, availability of subcontractors or the season (you wouldn’t plant trees in winter, would you?).

Stage IV – optimization

Even after all these efforts, it may turn out that you are still unable to reach the milestones in the intended time. You then take another look at the schedule. There must be some opportunities left to optimize it – e.g. by increasing staffing and thus efficiency, launching certain tasks earlier or performing them simultaneously with others.

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Wizualizacja tramwaju

Tramway to Mistrzejowice – on the homestretch for the kick-off

The beginning of next year will see the launch of the construction of another tram route in the north of Krakow – however, this is not an investment you’ve seen before. Not only is it implemented in the PPP formula, but it is also precisely adapted to the needs of a modern city.

An investment unlike any other! Although the idea of building a tram route to Mistrzejowice dates back to the times when the main city arteries were designed in a completely different way, the latest design reveals a space that the residents were striving for – friendly to all traffic users, sustainable, green. Created with future generations in mind.

– In recent months, work has been continued on the design of the tram route to Mistrzejowice. The aim was to adapt the solutions to the requirements of a modern city where every user feels comfortable. This investment is far more than just a fast tram to the city center. We’re talking residents-friendly, green area, safe routes for pedestrians and cyclists, infrastructure adapted to the changing climate – says Marcin Hanczakowski, Director of Kraków Municipal Road Authority (ZDMK).

Green tramway to Mistrzejowice

As a reminder: the KST IV route is to connect the area of Jancarza Street with the intersection of Meissnera and Mogilska Streets – from there passengers will quickly get to the Mogilskie Roundabout and further to the city center. Cars will be running along Bohomolca, Dobrego Pasterza, Lublańska and Młyńska Streets – partly as a grade-separated solution because from the Barei Roundabout to the Młyńskie roundabout at level -1.

There are actually quite a lot of changes introduced which were recently requested by residents (mainly those in the area of Meissnera and Młyńska Streets). You will definitely notice a significant reduction in the number of noise barriers, commonly considered to be eyesores in urban areas, and an increase in the amount of greenery designed along the route. – After receiving the contracting authority’s consent to narrow the cross-section of Meissnera Street, we reviewed the forecast traffic volume on this thoroughfare and repeated the acoustic analyzes. Their results supported abandoning most of the designed noise barriers. In turn, local changes in the geometric layout of sidewalks and underground routes of systems allowed to additionally keep approximately 200 trees and find room for new plantings – says Paweł Motyka, Deputy Project Manager for Gülermak, the company making the investment.

In total, over a thousand trees will be planted along the entire tram route and the Mistrzejowice terminus will be transformed into a new park. Decorative grasses and shrubs, a rain garden, vines will be introduced in representative areas. Roofs of tram stops will feature stonecrops, i.e. dry-loving plants that are increasingly popular in public space. Along the entire route – apart from the tunnel, ramps and intersections – a green trackbed will be introduced. Trees will be planted even on bus stop platforms where Kraków residents look for shade so often.

The contractor convinces that traffic noise will also be minimized thanks to the use of the BBTM silent surface, which has not been used so far in Kraków, track lubricators and the state-of-the-art trams and buses.

Modern city requires modern solutions

The implementation of the new route in the public-private partnership (PPP) formula actually forces the use of environmentally friendly and technologically advanced solutions. The entity building the new route will also maintain it for 20 years, which obliges it to ensure relative reliability. This is to be ensured by advanced supervision systems over the operation of the tunnel under the Polsadu roundabout, traffic control and two innovative catenary substations (supporting central – remote control and supervision) securing the power supply on the new section. State-of-the-art passenger information system that allows precisely estimating the time remaining until the arrival of the tram and planning transfers. Two multi-level communication hubs (at the Młyńskie and Polsadu roundabouts) will ensure convenient transfers between the ground level and underground parts (also for people with limited mobility). Already at this stage, the designer took into account possible future expansion of the facilities to support a pre-metro route, including a section shared with KST IV, and the architect made sure that the underground stations draw on Kraków’s traditions and modern trends alike. The designs are indeed impressive!

Strolling like never before

Back to the surface. Not only trams and cars will be moving here, but also pedestrians and cyclists so often disregarded in large infrastructure projects. A coherent network of sidewalks and bicycle paths along the entire route will definitely improve their situation. Bicycle and pedestrian traffic are separated from each other and from car traffic for the most part of the route, which reduces the risk of collision – and thus – increases safety. The routes are to be lightened up. The prospect of a walk or a bike ride seems all the more attractive once you have something to sit on and something to attach your bike to. In this respect, the Mistrzejowice terminus with benches among the trees and a bicycle parking lot stands out in the design. It will be an investment unlike any other before and the kick-off is in a few months!

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They provide direct current for the trams. We will build two traction substations

Out of concern for urban architecture, we located one of the traction substations for the needs of powering the KST IV route underground. This is how we reduced the occupation of land for the needs of operating the facility to a minimum.

Each new tram route needs additional power to provide the cars with the right conditions for smooth traffic. The analyzes Gülermak made at the design stage show that nearly 60 km of new cables and two traction substations will be needed to operate the route of approx. 4.5 km They will be equipped with 4 rectifier units of 800 kW each.

Underground traction station = more space on the ground

The first station will be developed on the area of Bohomolca and Marchołta junction. Together with the necessary infrastructure, the facility will occupy approx. 225 sq m.

More than 10 times less ground-level space is needed for the Młyńska station, which the private partner – experienced in the construction of metro – designed in the tram route tunnel (area of the junction with Młyńska Boczna Street). – Only the entrance part of the staircase, providing access to the substation, will be located above the ground – says Maciej Wołtosz, Electrical Design Coordinator with Gülermak. The design also features a parking space for maintenance vehicles serving the facility. It is located at Młyńska Street, on the side of the entrance to the staircase.

Smooth traffic on the new route to Mistrzejowice

The two stations will streamline tram traffic on the newly designed route. Their designed power will meet the contractual provisions and support the frequency of running even every 90 seconds. In the future, part of the route will be included in the first line of the Kraków premetro.

The public entity will be responsible for the maintenance of traction substations during the period of operation, while the private partner – for the first 20 years of operation – will take over the maintenance of, among others, tunnel with underground stops, tram tracks and tram infrastructure devices.

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Accesses to the stop under Młyńskie roundabout will be roofed

Two entrances leading to the Młyńskie Roundabout stop, designed on level -1, will be roofed. It will be more comfortable for users and will protect the infrastructure against unfavorable weather conditions.

So far, the design provided for roofed access to the underground platforms only at the Polsadu Roundabout stop. That was the requirement imposed on the private partner at the very beginning of works on KST IV. However, the number of staircases has increased since that time. Following the change instruction from the City of Kraków, the Młyńskie Roundabout hub was redesigned so that the tramway would take a grade-separated route at -1 level.

With the changes introduced, the trackbed is located on level -1 and communication with level 0 is through two exits featuring traditional stairs and lifts. Initially no roof was designed here which was reflected in the architectural and building design filed for approval under the ZRID (building permit) procedure.

Roofed stops to make passengers comfortable

After consultations with the public entity, Gülermak adopted a solution with roofed stops also on the Młyńskie Roundabout. It is more practical and more comfortable for passengers. Exits resembling those proposed at Polsadu Roundabout will make it more comfortable on rainy days, but also protect the infrastructure against the effects of unfavorable weather conditions. The design features modern finishing materials such as steel, glass and facade cladding to create a consistent color concept throughout the stop.

For more about the main theme of the architectural design on the stops along KST IV go here.

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The Municipal Greenery Authority (ZZM) agreed on the design for plantings

1,055 new tress and almost 25,000 shrubs, grasses, perennials and creepers will be planted along the planned tram route to Mistrzejowice. ZZM approved the location and type of compensation plantings.

The private partner has received approved greenery design for the location of compensation plantings. Design works lasting several weeks – involving the relocation of planned and existing systems, adjustments to sidewalks or bicycle paths geometric layout – and a pile of new approvals allowed to locate virtually all new trees and shrubs in the area covered by the investment. This means that lawns along the trackbed and pedestrian and bicycle routes will be planted with trees in the proportion of 1:1. These trees will offer shade to pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users.

Fewer noise barriers, more greenery

A number of changes compared to the initial design assumptions was possible following the change instruction from the public entity at the request of residents (regarding, among others, reduced traffic noise, and thus reduced number of noise barriers). As a result, more space was regained for new plantings along the footways and bicycle routes. However, the current shape of the greenery design was also influenced by the relocated systems, e.g. heating or water and sewage systems – these required re-arrangements. The approval from all municipal units turned out to be necessary. Excellent cooperation at the design stage made it possible to achieve the assumed goal. As a result, the private partner proposed locations for 1,055 new trees and 24,761 seedlings of shrubs, grasses, perennials and creepers.

Urban-resistant species

On hot days, some trees will offer shade for public transport users waiting for a tram or bus. – Almost each stop features trees in a permeable surface with the use of solutions enabling the future growth of the root ball in a separate space under the pavement – says Agnieszka Gurgacz, environmental protection specialist with Gülermak. Similar solutions are designed for trees planted within sidewalks.

Only native species of trees and tall shrubs are chosen for wide vegetated strips, such as broad-leaved linden, rowan, white dogwood and forsythia, and ground cover roses in narrow ones. Those selected are resistant to harsh urban conditions like drought, salinity, high temperature and absorb traffic pollution.

Forested terminus, wildflower meadow, rain garden

Unusual solutions were proposed at the most important points along the tram route. The Mistrzejowice Terminus will be forested with several dozen trees, including birches and linden trees. The composition will also feature carefully selected shrubs and grasses. A wildflower meadow will be set up at the Barei Roundabout. The popular acacia locust growing on the central island of the roundabout will be joined by eight new seedlings of this species. Rain garden will be established in the immediate vicinity. In the current design it has gained additional planting species in order to adapt it to changing weather conditions. At the Młyńskie Roundabout, a delightful composition of maples, roses and varieties of ornamental grasses will be introduced.

ZZM also approved the announced ’green’ trackbed covered with sedum mats wherever technically allowed. The drought-resistant and easy-to-maintain sedum was also designed on the roofs of bus waiting shelters – to put in place the so-called ‘green stops’.

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Mistrzejowice Terminus – brand new face after 50 years

The new route to Mistrzejowice ushers in major changes not only where the tracks are introduced for the first time. The current terminus will gain a new look and, above all, functionality.

It will be yet another terminus recently upgraded as part of a large municipal investment. This one is specific though. During the construction of the Łagiewnicka Route, the Kurdwanów Terminus was never completely redeveloped. It only gained the possibility of entering and leaving from the opposite side to serve tramways from Zakopiańska Street. The Krowodrza Górka Terminus currently being redeveloped will become less important. The main traffic will go to the new terminus on Górka Narodowa. Much fewer trams will end in the current location, which is also reflected in the parameters of the new infrastructure.

It will be completely different in the case of the Mistrzejowice Terminus. It will be built from scratch and its length will almost double. Once the investment is completed, it will be hosting much more trams than today.

About time

– The terminus in Mistrzejowice was launched in November 1974. It deserves a complete redevelopment after half a century – says Marcin Hanczakowski, Director of Kraków Municipal Road Authority (ZDMK). – The new version, unveiled to the residents after the works are completed, will meet all current standards. It will be much more functional and will make it easier for pedestrians to access the tram – adds the Director.

What exactly will change? Firstly, it will serve two directions: trams can go both towards Prądnik Czerwony and towards Nowa Huta. There will be two 65-meter-long platforms on the route, and two more 45-meter-long on the terminus to allow safe exit and boarding of trams. There will be modern information displays, shelters and facilities for the disabled.

For different groups

An important change will be the shift of the pedestrian crossing over Jancarza Street towards the west – the route and the travel time to

bus terminus on the opposite side will shorten. This is how the new terminus will offer easier switch between trams and buses. Right next to the tram platforms, there will also be a bus stop transferred from the intersection with Załuskich Street. Pedestrians can be sure they will no longer have to use shortcut footpaths – pavements have been designed in each major direction so that they can safely and comfortably move around the entire terminus. At the aforementioned intersection with Załuskich Street – as requested by the residents – there will be an additional right turn lane from Jancarza Street.

Designers have not forgotten about cyclists. A separate bicycle path will reach the terminus along the southern side of Jancarza Street, connected to the existing shared zone on the eastern side of the terminus. There will also be a bicycle parking. In the future, the city also plans to a bicycle path along the opposite side of Jancarza Street.

New arrangement

As announced, the terminus will be functional and green. – The terminus will be forested. Several dozen trees will be planted between the alleys, including Norway maple, black pine, warty birch and small-leaved linden. The composition will be complemented by carefully selected shrubs and grasses, including ground covering rose or tufted hairgrass. You can wait for the tram in the shade on one of the benches – says Agnieszka Gurgacz, environmental protection specialist with Gülermak.

Greenery will also be provided on two platforms from the side of Jancarza Street. The trees were designed using solutions supporting future growth of the root ball in a separate space under the pavement.


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Energy-efficient street lighting to reduce electricity bills

The growing costs of electricity consumption prompted local governments to seek savings. One way to cut the bills is to upgrade street lighting. The Bohomolca and Krzesławicka streets planned for redevelopment prove that replacing sodium fixtures with LEDs cuts electricity consumption by as much as half.

Energy sales offers received by local governments and their subordinate units sparked discussions about potential ways of saving it. Greater burden on the budget means less funds for investments the residents are expecting so much. They would find it difficult to accept shorter opening hours of swimming pools or libraries or the lack of Christmas decorations on the streets, so such cuts are considered as a last resort. However, there is something that can bring considerable relief for the budget and the Planet – replacing street lighting with energy-saving ones. It is proved by the calculations for KSTIV project.

How to make savings on street lighting?

Sodium lamps are still common across many cities. These outdated appliances use most of their energy to emit heat instead of lighting up the streets and cannot boast a satisfactory service life. There is no doubt that they must be replaced with more modern fittings and this is slowly happening. There is still much left to do.

Usually, the lighting is replaced along when the remaining street infrastructure is replaced. This will be the case for the Tramway to Mistrzejowice. – Some sections of the planned route still feature sodium lamps, for example at Krzesławicka or Bohomolca Streets. 70W, 100W and 150W fixtures will be replaced here with LEDs with a power of 55W, 60.5W, 70W, respectively. It will reduce energy consumption while the new lighting will be operational for much longer – says Maciej Wołtosz, Electrical Design Coordinator with Gülermak.

Power consumption cut by half

The calculations reveal that the replacement of several dozen sodium fittings at Krzesławicka and Bohomolca Streets will reduce energy consumption by 49.6%. The LEDs used will have a service life of at least twice as long as those to be disassembled.

– In Kraków, we systematically upgrade street lighting, because the savings from such investments are clearly reflected in electricity bills. But that’s not all. This way we are relieving not only the city budget, but also the environment. Reduced energy consumption means less harmful CO2 emissions – says Marcin Hanczakowski, Director of Kraków Municipal Road Authority (ZDMK).

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