Trans-Carpathian tunnel to Žilina

The proposed Morava valley high-speed lines are aligned north-south. The only one major transverse route is Olomouc – Žilina. This is because the Morava is separated from the roughly parallel valley of the Váh river, by the Lesser Carpathians and the White Carpathians.

Only local lines cross the mountains, between the two valleys. The line Hranice – Púchov became more important after the independence of Czechoslovakia in 1918. It became part of a strategic east-west route, from Prague (Praha) to Košice, via Olomouc and Žilina. Strategic rail routes are often realigned in accordance with national priorities and new borders. (Both German states developed their north-south lines from the 1950’s, but after reunification the east-west lines regained their original significance). When Czechoslovakia split up in 1993, the Olomouc – Žilina section lost its special national significance. The current Czech rail corridor plan includes the longer alternative route via Ostrava, Karviná and Český Těšín. In Slovakia, the emphasis is on improvement of the Bratislava – Žilina – Košice axis.

The 90-km line from Hranice follows a curving alignment to Púchov, where it joins the Bratislava – Žilina line. Žilina is about 40 km further giving a total of 130 km from Hranice to Žilina: the great circle distance is 82 km.

roznov-tunnel

This route can not be improved without a tunnel. The only option seems to be, a long base tunnel from near Rožnov pod Radhoštěm, to the bend in the Váh valley near Žilina. Rožnov is the terminus of a short local branch from the Hranice – Púchov line. The tunnel would be 40 km long, possibly 45 km. It would require a new approach line from Hranice, including a southern bypass of Hranice itself. Its portal at Rožnov would be at about 370 m altitude, and its Váh river portal at about 315 m.

There is no point in any further details here: a project of that scale would require several years of geological and design studies. Perhaps the tunnel could be built in two sections, surfacing at for instance the valley near Makov, at about 600 m altitude. The main issue in assessing the project, is whether the population served – from Žilina to Košice and small parts of the Ukraine and northern Hungary – is sufficient to justify a tunnel. The city of Žilina alone, with a population of 85 000, probably would not.

Trans-Carpathian tunnel to Žilina

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