Tramwaj jadący po zielonych torach. Zdjęcie podglądowe

Tramway to Mistrzejowice will run on green trackbed

In recent years, more and more cities are beginning to appreciate the potential of trackbed as a perfect spot to locate additional green areas. The trend is especially popular in cities that are seeking new ways to improve the quality of life of their residents. Kraków is a leader in the greening of tramway routes in Poland. The Tram to Mistrzejowice is yet another project following this pattern.

Many cities are struggling these days with air pollution and facing limited amount of green spaces. One solution to this problem is the so-called green trackbed: green belts running along streets, tramway tracks or expressways. Their main goal is to improve the quality of life for the residents by increasing green urban areas, reducing noise and protecting against air pollution.

Green trackbed are becoming increasingly popular in cities around the world. Kraków has been investing in green initiatives for years and is ahead of other cities in Poland in terms of green tram infrastructure. There are over 28 kilometers of green routes in the city now.  Green tracks have been already introduced for instance on communication routes of 3 Maja Avenue, Kamienna – Prądnicka – Dr. Twardego – Krowodrza Górka, Grzegórzeckie Roundabout – Mały Płaszów and Grota Roweckiego – Czerwone Maki. The planned construction of a new tram route to Mistrzejowice involves an additional 4.2 km of green tracks.

Why is it worth building green tracks?

Green tracks in the city center help to significantly reduce air pollution. Plants absorb harmful substances from the air, such as nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide, and produce oxygen. More greenery supports biodiversity and attracts different species of birds and insects.

However, the advantages of this solution are not only about ecology. Green tracks also improve the quality of life for the residents. They perform an insulating function: reduce noise and vibrations emitted by trams to the environment. Green tracks absorb sounds from the surroundings, which means residents face less problems with noise.

Green tracks are crucial for improving the quality of life for residents, so more and more cities around the world are opting for this solution. Often times, these areas are introduced as part of revitalization of post-industrial districts or railway infrastructure. This supports creating new, attractive green spaces in the city center.

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Location of ticket machines revealed for the tram route to Mistrzejowice!

Ticket machines are installed in the last stage of the tram route construction, but their locations must be planned already at the design stage. Why so early? To secure power.

The contract for the construction of the tram route to Mistrzejowice obliges the private partner to make the connection, power supply and prepare the foundations for the ticket machines. Ticket machines are also a source of passenger information and have been very well received in Kraków. They will be located near the new stops.

Where exactly?

at the current location of the stop: Tauron Arena Kraków Wieczysta

before the junction of Meissnera and Ugorek Streets

on the junction of Meissnera and Kazimierza Chałupnika Streets

on the Młyńskie Roundabout stop

before the junction of Młyńska and Miechowity Streets

on the Polsadu Roundabout stop

on the junction of Dobrego Pasterza and Mariana Słoneckiego Streets

on Dobrego Pasterza Street before the junction with Krzesławicka Street 

on Bohomolca Street after the junction with Kniaźnina Street

on Jancarza Street after the junction Oświecenia Residental Area

on the Mistrzejowice terminus

An overview map of the planned ticket machine locations

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Zdjęcie podglądowe schodów ruchomych. Źródło: wizualizacja wykonana na potrzeby innych projektów Gulermak

Passengers will reach underground stops by elevators and escalators

The tram route to Mistrzejowice will feature a grade-separated solution through two Kraków roundabouts: underground. Moving between levels is not easy for everyone and some users may even find it impossible. Therefore, the design provides for safe elevators and escalators.

Access to individual floors of the Polsadu Roundabout underground stop – which can be used by up to 1,600 passengers per hour – is ensured mainly by traditional stairs. However, the design also includes six pairs of escalators, i.e. as many as 12 flights. If combined in a single row, they would lead passengers to a height of about 60 meters: as high as the St. Mary’s Tower!

Coming back down to earth: the escalators will be inclined at an angle of 30 degrees and their usable width will be 1m. For safety, the edges of individual steps will be marked with a contrasting color and the flights will be equipped with dynamic traffic lights prohibiting or allowing access. In addition, the operation of the stairs will be monitored 24 hours a day by the BMS system and supervised by qualified staff at the stop.

Elevator to the platform

It will also be possible to get to the modern underground stop by elevators. Although intended for every user, they are dedicated especially to the elderly, individuals with limited mobility and carers with children in prams. There will be facilities for the blind. The buttons on the controls inside and on the call panel will be equipped with Braille. A voice information system will also be put in place.

Elevator dimensions will allow for the free movement of a larger group of passengers – anyone with suitcases, luggage, backpacks or bicycles. An additional convenience secured by the designers are heated door sills to facilitate opening and closing the door in the winter in case the snow freezes.  What about floors? Under their feet, passengers will see stone slabs matching other floors. Elevators have also been designed at the Młyńskie Roundabout stop located on level -1, but in a semi-open and secured excavation.

Technology that will last

Elevator interior will be finished in a vandal-resistant stainless steel. They will be monitored and a visual signal will be transmitted to the surveillance room 24/7. For safe and efficient operation, both the elevators and the escalators will be regularly maintained and inspected. Passengers will be enjoying them for many years to come!

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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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