This Kiev – Melitopol high-speed line (HSL) is part of a series of proposals. Read the introduction: high-speed rail in the Ukraine. Alignments are not given in detail.
Like the first proposal for an Odessa – Rostov line, this proposed HSL creates a new rail route. The cities between Kiev and Melitopol do have railway stations – but no existing line links them all. Travelling between them requires detours, and changes of train at junction stations. Some sections of the proposed line shorten existing routes: others are completely new, such as the Dnieper crossing at Nikopol.
Click to enlarge: the line in relation to the existing network, base map from Ukrainian Railways
The line would start in Kiev (Київ, Kyiv, population almost 3 million). The existing exit lines would need upgrading, especially the single main rail bridge which limits capacity. The main station is on the west bank (the oldest part of Kiev): the Darnytsia Station on the east bank is being reconstructed as part of a massive development.
Click to enlarge: the original railway geography at Kiev, with a curving approach to a single bridge, Austro-Hungarian military map, about 1910.
The new HSL would first run alongside the existing main line eastwards (toward Poltava), and would also be used by high-speed trains on that route. East of the airport, it would follow the main highway M-03, south of Berezan and Yahotyn. The cut-off line itself would then turn south-east toward Cherkasy. It would rejoin the existing alignment, at the start of the dam/bridge across the Dnieper (Kremencuk reservoir). The bridge can easily be reconstructed, with extra tracks.
In Cherkasy (Черкаси, population 288 000), the existing rail line makes two right-angled turns, but there is no way to improve this without a new river crossing. The station is after the second bend: it is a shabby mess at present, and would need replacement.
The existing line south from Cherkasy, runs through a gap in the hills, to the large junction station at Smila. The new line would take a more direct route, possibly passing just outside Smila: it would be roughly 120 km long. It would rejoin the existing alignment on the outskirts of Kirovohrad, about 2 km west of the Inhul river bridge.
In Kirovohrad (Кіровоград, population 240 000), the east-west alignment through the city has room for expansion. The station is located quite close to the centre. The new HSL would leave the line about 2 km east of the station, turning east across the small valley of the Biyanka. It would cut through a residential area, although few houses would be demolished, since density is low.
Click to enlarge…
From there, the line would use a new alignment south-eastwards. It would cross the existing main line to Mykolaiv, near the railway junction of Dolynska. From Dolynska there is a connecting line to Kryvyi Rih: much is it is straight, and the new line could be built alongside it.
Kryvyi Rih (Кривий Ріг, 685 000) is a long agglomeration, built around open-cast iron mines, waste tips, and steelworks. The new line would pass through the southern end, serving the station at Dzerzhynskyi, about 5 km from the central area. Because of the mines, the new line must follow the existing tracks into the station.
East of the station, a new cut-off would shorten the existing exit route toward Nikopol. The new line would then use a new direct alignment, about 5-10 km shorter than the existing line via Apostolove. Although the terrain is not a problem, there is a region of open-cast manganese mines around Ordzhonikidze. To avoid them, the HSL would rejoin the existing alignment at Hranitne. This section would be about 90-95 km long.
Nikopol (Нікополь, 130 000) was built on higher ground at the edge of the Dnieper flood plain. The lower ground was flooded by the Kakhovka Reservoir, and Nikopol is now on a lake shore. That makes a new crossing difficult. The reservoir is not deep (average 8 m) but it is wide, and the rail line in Nikopol is inland. Nikopol station is 4 km north of the old town, on an east-west rail alignment.
The new line must turn south, cross the urban area, and then cross the reservoir (which is frozen in winter). This is the most difficult section, on this high-speed route. The best option seems to be a 12-km long bridge or viaduct, starting from an existing freight line, east of the station. However, the line would first run through residential areas: they slope downwards towards the lake, so the bridge approach would be well above the housing. It is all low-density housing with large garden plots but demolition is still inevitable. A tunnel variant would be longer, about 14-15 km: it would start west of the station, but could compensate that with a new central station, close to the Old Town.
On the other side, the line passes west of Enerhodar, site of a huge nuclear power plant. This is a classic Soviet-era new town, and at present has no connection to Nikopol. A short branch, diverging from the HSL, could be used by regional services to Enerhodar: there would be no station on the new line itself.
The main HSL would continue south-east towards Melitopol. South of the lake shore, it crosses a 60-m scarp at the edge of the flood plain. The line can turn, to climb it an angle, otherwise it has little impact on the alignment, across open farmland.
Just east of Vesele, the new line would join the proposed HSL from Odessa. The joint alignment into Melitopol would join the existing line about 2-3 km north of the station: this is the main Moscow – Crimea line. The section from Nikopol would be about 120 km long.
Melitopol (Мелітополь, 160 000 inhabitants), is the logical terminus for services, on this HSL route from Kiev. Passengers could change for services further south to the Crimea, and for the Odessa – Rostov line. There would be another, shorter, HSL route to the Crimea, which would become the main route from Kiev: more on that later.