Posts Tagged ‘Kaliningrad’
The German city of Königsberg developed a small local rail network during the first half of the 20th century, extending into the region of Samland north of the city. Samland (Sambia) is roughly a rectangle bordered by the Baltic Sea, the river Pregel / Pregolya, and the small river Deime / Deyma. The railways served growing beach resorts on its northern coast. If Königsberg had stayed a German city, it would probably have an urban-regional S-Bahn network. The Second World War resulted in the partition of the former East Prussia or Ostpreussen, between Poland and the Soviet Union. Königsberg was largely destroyed, and rebuilt as the Soviet city of Kaliningrad: the population was expelled and replaced, and everything was renamed in Russian.
Although many local lines in East Prussia were never rebuilt after their wartime destruction, most of the network in Samland is still in operation. The shortest line runs due north from Kaliningrad, to the coastal resort Zelenogradsk (formerly Cranz, population 12 000). The 28-km line was built by the Königsberg-Cranzer Eisenbahngesellschaft. It ends at a terminal station, very close to the beach. The line along the coast turns off just outside the station: the third line visible is a former branch, to a small harbour at Cranzbeek.
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A longer line runs north-west to the resorts of Pioniersky (formerly Neukuhren, population 12 000) and Svetlogorsk (formerly Rauschen, 11 000 inhabitants). The line was built in 1901 by the Samlandbahn AG. It passes through Pioniersky, 35 km from Kaliningrad, and continues 5 km along the coast to Svetlogorsk-1 station (Rauschen-Ort). It then turns in a semi-circle, terminating at Svetlogorsk-2 (Rauschen Dune), 43 km from Kaliningrad.
Both these lines start at the northern station, Kaliningrad Severny, formerly Nordbahnhof. It is now at the centre of the reconstructed city, on the main square. However, there is only a single-track connection to the main station.
From Cranz, a line runs along the coast, including the 5-km Pioniersky – Svetlogorsk section. It was originally built to Warnicken, 7 km from Rauschen-Ort. In the 1930′s, a line along the whole coast of the peninsula was planned, and it was completed in wartime. It ended at Pillau, now Baltiysk.
The other line north of Kaliningrad is the 124-km secondary line to Sovetsk (formerly Tilsit). The 47-km section to Polessk (Labiau, population 8000) also serves Guryevsk (Neuhausen, population 11 000), on the outskirts of Kaliningrad. This line also starts at Kaliningrad Severny.
The 46-km line westwards to Baltiysk (formerly Pillau, population 33 000) was built by the Ostpreussische Südbahn. An 18-km branch to Palmnicken (now Yantarny), later became part of the coastal route around the peninsula. The line had its own station in Königsberg (Pillauer Bahnhof), but the line now runs to the main station. In Baltiysk, there is a terminal station, but also connections to the port – a naval base in transition to a freight/ferry port.
Radial lines from Cranz, Svetlogorsk, and Polessk into Kaliningrad Severny are logical, and they can be upgraded. However, at the very least, a double-track connection to the main station is needed, with a new river crossing (bridge or tunnel). A more radical option is an new 6-km north-south tunnel. starting north of Kaliningrad Severny. The alignment would follow main roads through the centre, and then cross the main station at right angles. It could then split, to access all three routes out of the main station: south-west, south and east.
The tunnel would have the same function as an upgraded link line: to integrate the radial lines into an urban-regional network. Such a central-area tunnel is typical of S-Bahn / RER projects in other cities. However, Kaliningrad probably has an imbalance of traffic: the northern coast resorts are busy in summer, but there are only small settlements on the lines out of the main station. The logical end points for S-Bahn services on those lines would be Mamonovo, Bagrationovsk, and Gvardeysk, all about 40-50 km from Kaliningrad.
A logical combination with a north-south tunnel, is an east-west tunnel from the Baltiysk line. They could cross at a central interchange station, for instance at the crossing of the Leninskiy Prospekt and Moskovskiy Prospekt. However, it is less clear where the east-west line should go from there. It could perhaps cross the river, to join the line to Gvardeysk.
Finally, the line along the coast, from Baltiysk (Pillau) to Zelenogradsk (Cranz), should be reinstated, by reopening the section from Primorsk (Fischhausen) to Svetlogorsk (Rauschen) via Yantarny (Palmnicken). Because it would carry no heavy peak traffic (like the radial lines), it could be operated with light-rail vehicles.
See Regional lines around Kaliningrad for more on secondary lines in the Kaliningrad Oblast.
Kaliningrad Oblast is the northern half of the former East Prussia or Ostpreussen. Until 1945 it had two main lines toward Berlin, and a network of regional lines, centred on Königsberg (now Kaliningrad). Königsberg also had the beginnings of a suburban network, in the surrounding region of Samland. The East Prussian rail network was completely disrupted by the Second World War, and the new borders which followed. The east-west line to/from Kaliningrad was developed in the Soviet period, but it is now also cut twice, by the EU external border.
The proposed high-speed lines through the Oblast would dramatically improve European-level and inter-regional connections:
- the HSL Berlin – Kaliningrad – Riga – Tallinn, which passes through Sovetsk
- the inter-regional line Kaliningrad – Ełk – Białystok, in the Oblast combined with the HSL Kaliningrad – Olsztyn
- the east-west HSL Kaliningrad – Kaunas – Vilnius
- a fast line (Ausbaustrecke) Poznań – Sovetsk, with interchange with the Kaunas HSL at Chernyakhovsk
- a HSL Kaunas – Šakiai – Sovetsk
These lines pass some of the district (Rayon) centres in the Oblast, and fast interregional services would serve at least Bagrationovsk, Chernyakhovsk, Sovetsk, and Polessk. In addition, Gvardeysk, Gusev and Nesterov are on the existing east-west line, which would be upgraded. Generally, the Soviet administration after 1946 retained the German Kreis boundaries, and the Kreisstadt became the rayon centre. Some were downgraded. Pravdinsk (formerly Friedland) replaced Zheleznodorozhny (formerly Gerdauen), which is on the proposed Ausbaustrecke Poznań – Sovetsk. Mamonovo (Heiligenbeil) was absorbed in the Bagrationovsk rayon, and Krasnoznamensk effectively replaced Dobrovolsk (Pilkallen). Neman (Ragnit) became a separate rayon centre: it is on the proposed Kaunas – Sovetsk line.
Of the 18 administrative centres outside Kaliningrad, 6 are in Samland, relatively close to Kaliningrad, and 8 are on main lines. Ozyorsk, Pravdinsk, and Slavsk are (or were) on rural lines, and Krasnoznamensk (Lasdehnen), capital of the smallest rayon, was terminus of a narrow-gauge rail line.
The following rail routes need development:
- the network in Samland, described separately
- the local line via Polessk
- former local line Pravdinsk – Zheleznodorozhny, and on into Masuria
- former local line Chernyakhovsk – Ozyorsk – Gołdap – Ełk.
The Königsberg – Tilsit secondary line was a 124-km rural line with a limited slow service, and 28 intermediate stations. (The main route was via Insterburg, now Chernyakhovsk). The line now serves three rayon centres: Guryevsk (Neuhausen, population 11 000) on the outskirts of Kaliningrad, Polessk (Labiau, population 8000) and Slavsk (Heinrichswalde, population 5000). Both Polessk and Slavsk rayons have about 21 000 inhabitants, Guryevsk rayon 50 000. However, the line parallels the proposed HSL Kaliningrad – Sovetsk, and could never compete with it for through journeys. An alternative would therefore be, to incorporate the 47-km section to Polessk, into a Kaliningrad urban-regional network (S-Bahn). Probably, only transit freight traffic would justify the remaining section via Slavsk. It could be shortened by 6 km, by re-routing it on the south side of Slavsk.
The rural line to Gerdauen (Zheleznodorozhny) diverged from the main line to Kaunas, at Löwenhagen, 20 km south-east of Kaliningrad. From there it ran south to Domnau, then 11 km east to Friedland, and then 26 km south-east to Gerdauen. The line is abandoned, and would need full reconstruction anyway, so a new shorter route could start closer to Kaliningrad. A 14-km cut-off from Lugovoye would shorten the route to Domnovo (Domnau), to about 39 km.
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Pravdinsk (Friedland, population 4500) and Zheleznodorozhny (Gerdauen, population 2800) are the only other settlements which merit a station. (The rayon population density is only 17 persons/km). Zheleznodorozhny would be served by fast inter-regional trains on the Poznań – Sovetsk line.
Local traffic would probably not justify this line, so it should be extended, over an old alignment, to Węgorzewo (formerly Angerburg, population 12 000) and Giżycko (formerly Lötzen, population 30 000). See the map at Railmap – kolejowa mapa Polski (may not work with all browsers).
The line would then have an inter-regional function. Both Węgorzewo and Giżycko are tourist centres for the Masurian lake district. Giżycko is on the proposed fast inter-regional line Kaliningrad – Ełk – Białystok. Until 1944, the route carried through trains Königsberg – Gerdauen – Angerburg, and connecting trains Angerburg – Kruglanken – Lötzen. The section from Gerdauen to Angerburg was 37 km long, from there to Lötzen 35 km. With the new cut-off at Lugovoye, the total route Kaliningrad – Giżycko would be about 148 km. On a fully reconstructed line, a journey time of 2 hours is certainly feasible.
A similar logic – restoration of longer inter-regional routes – applies to the regional line Chernyakhovsk – Ozyorsk – Gołdap – Ełk. Only the 27-km section from Olecko to Ełk is still in use (Polish line 41). The line was 119 km long, and operated as a single line, table 137e, with the fastest train taking 3 hours. (See also the map at Railmap). A new double-track and electrified regional line on the old alignment, would include a new 5-km exit line eastwards, avoiding Chernyakhovsk airbase: that would shorten the route by 2 km.
The line would serve Ozyorsk (formerly Darkehmen, Angerapp, population 5000). The rayon has only 17 000 inhabitants, and no large villages, so that would be the only station on this line inside Kaliningrad Oblast. In Poland, Gołdap (population 14 000, county 27 000) and Olecko (formerly Treuburg, population 16 000, county 41 000) are larger, and the rural areas more densely populated.
At Ełk (formerly Lyck, population 57 000), the line would connect with the HSL Warsaw – Kaunas – Riga and with the inter-regional line Kaliningrad – Ełk – Białystok. On a more-or-less new line, with most village stations closed, a journey time of 90 minutes is feasible.
Finally, regional services on an upgraded line to Elblag would serve Mamonovo, population 7500. As Heiligenbeil it was a Kreisstadt in East Prussia, but with open borders it would be overshadowed by Braniewo in Poland, 13 km further south (population 18 000).
This high-speed line (HSL) is intended to link four proposed high-speed lines:
• the high-speed line Warsaw – Kaunas – Riga, and
It would run parallel to the existing rail line on the route, which is now Russian gauge. That is logical on this route, which gives access to the hinterland of the port of Kaliningrad. However, a standard-gauge line Kaliningrad – Kaunas – Vilnius is equally logical, if standard-gauge lines pass through these cities. Historically the route had a break of gauge at Eydtkuhnen, on the border between the German and Russian empires. Apart from some narrow-gauge local lines, other lines within East Prussia were all standard gauge. It would certainly be logical to reconvert all lines in the present Kaliningrad Oblast, except the main east-west route. (The rest of East Prussia was allocated to Poland after the Second World war, and the lines are still standard gauge). Although more complex, conversion in Lithuania is also the best option, avoiding further gauge breaks there, especially around the cities. The most comprehensive option would be: standard gauge south of the rail line Liepāja – Jelgava – Krustpils – Daugavpils, and west of the Warsaw – Vilnius – Daugavpils – St. Petersburg line.
Passengers on a standard-gauge HSL Kaliningrad – Kaunas – Vilnius, could simply change trains at Vilnius, in the direction of Minsk. Alternatively, a limited number of variable gauge trains could be used for through services to Minsk. Other than that, an east-west Russian-gauge route would be primarily for freight. The new HSL proposed here is not for local traffic. On some sections, therefore, three types of line would run parallel: a standard-gauge HSL, a standard-gauge main line with freight and local trains, and a Russian-gauge freight transit route. Such a transit line could by-pass Vilnius and Kaunas, connecting via dual-gauge freight lines, to industry and freight terminals.
The standard-gauge HSL would start at Kaliningrad station, where it would diverge from the proposed Berlin – Kaliningrad – Riga high-speed line. The city of Kaliningrad / Калининград is important in itself, with 420 000 inhabitants, and as the only large city in Kaliningrad Oblast (population 940 000). The HSL would follow the existing line for 90 km, to Chernyakhovsk / Черняхо́вск, where it would connect with the Ausbaustrecke Poznań – Sovetsk. Some trains on that route would bypass Chernyakhovsk (bypass line in red), others would serve the existing station, and so would the HSL from Kaliningrad. Passengers could also transfer to a reopened line to Ełk.
From Chernyakhovsk, the new line would again parallel the existing alignment to Kazlų Rūda, 37 km from Kaunas. Here, it would the proposed high-speed line Warsaw – Kaunas – Riga, and they would form a single HSL into Kaunas. The section from Chernyakhovsk to Kaunas is 150 km long.
Kaunas (population 355 000, region 675 000) is is served by a single rail line through the city, and a bypass line at the eastern edge of the built-up area. The station is east of the city centre, and far from most of the built-up area. The new line would cross the River Neman into the station, on a new bridge, alongside the existing bridge. A new Russian-gauge transit freight line could bypass the city, about 5-10 km south, and rejoin the existing alignment between Kaunas and Vilnius. (The standard-gauge HSL to Riga would either follow the existing alignment out of Kaunas, or use a new tunnel due north, toward Kėdainiai).
The Vilnius HSL would first follow the existing rail alignment , and then the A1 motorway, to the edge of Vilnius – near Paneriai station. From there, it would follow the existing alignment into the main station, about 10 km further. These new tracks would also be used by high-speed trains from Warsaw, via the upgraded Warsaw – St. Petersburg line. The section from Kaunas to Vilnius would be 100 km long.
The main station of Vilnius (population 555 000) lies south of the city centre: as in Kaunas, there is only one line through the city. There is a bypass line, which also starts near Paneriai station, and runs in a wide semicircle south of the city. Russian gauge could be retained for this line, so that a new transit freight line would begin at Paneriai.
The whole line would be about 340 km long, so a journey time of 2 hours for the fastest trains should be possible.