This Kharkiv – Melitopol – Crimea 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.
A high-speed line to the Crimea was already suggested in the Soviet period, so the proposal itself is not original. The version proposed here, would use a new alignment between Kharkiv and Zaporizhzhia, passing through Dnipropetrovsk. The existing Moscow – Crimea line passes through Pavlohrad, 65 km further east. (Passengers for Dnipropetrovsk must change at the Synelnykove junction – this is typical for the Ukrainian network).
Click to enlarge: the line in relation to the existing network, base map from Ukrainian Railways
The new alignment has four main sections:
- from Kharkiv, the HSL would roughly parallel the rail line to Krasnohrad, and the M18 highway from there to Novomoskovsk
- a new north-south route through the Dnipropetrovsk agglomeration, starting from the Novomoskovsk line: this is the most difficult part
- south of Dnipropetrovsk, a new HSL crossing Dnieper, joining the existing line into Zaporizhzhia from the north
- improved alignment for 50 km south of Zaporizhzhia, where the existing railway follows the shoreline
South of Vasylivka, the new HSL can follow the existing alignment to the Crimea – through open plain, with long straight sections.
The HSL would approximately follow the existing secondary rail line south-west to Dnipropetrovsk. However, the rail line follows river valleys, and especially south of Krasnohrad, the HSL could follow the M18 highway instead, which runs on the higher ground. From Novomoskovsk, 25 km north-east of Dnipropetrovsk, the HSL would run alongside the existing alignment. The northern approach to the main station is convoluted, and would require a cut-off line of about 6 km, of which 4 km in tunnel.
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Dnipropetrovsk (Дніпропетровськ, Russian Dnepropetrovsk, population one million), is the third city of the Ukraine. The city is built on a bend in the river Dnieper. There are two existing rail bridges from the northern bank: one into the main station, and one into the Southern Station (Pivdennyi Vokzal). Both these rail lines will be linked by the first line of the Dnipropetrovsk metro.
The current line through the Southern Station is single-track, and built on a hillside. The city is on a plateau above the river, and the rail line follows the edge of the plateau. If it was upgraded, the station could be relocated to the end of Karl Marx Avenue (the rail line is visible just behind the red bus, on the hillside). However, this station could not be served by trains from the west.
The best option seems a new southern exit line, from the monumental main station. This option allows interchange with west-to-east trains, which first cross the Dnieper, and then leave the city via the double bridge to the east (toward Donetsk).
The line into the station makes a 45-degree turn immediately south of the bridge: the station is at about 60 m elevation, the hill behind it at about 160 m. In principle, the HSL could simply go straight on from the bridge, in tunnel under the hill. (The HSL platforms would then be about 250 m from the other platforms).
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The southern exit line would have up to 8 km in tunnel (or several tunnels): it might use part of the existing ring freight line. On the outskirts of the city, it would turn south-south-west.
South of Dnipropetrovsk, the best option is probably to cross the Dnieper, at the bend half-way to Zaporizhzhia. Approaching the city, the HSL would follow the M18 road, joining the Crimean main line about 8 km from the centre. The HSL must cross the Dnieper anyway: this option avoids a crossing next to the dam, and shortens the route through the built-up area.
In Zaporizhzhia (Запоріжжя, Russian Zaporozh’ye, population 780 000), the HSL would run alongside the existing alignment, into the main station (Zaporizhzhia-I).
Parts of the line are built on causeway, cutting across bays and inlets. Those sections are straight, but there is a curving 18-km section round a headland north of Vasylivka, and through the town. The options are to realign the curves and 4-track the line, or build a separate HSL alignment, about 5-10 km inland. The inland route would be about 60-80 m higher, which is not in itself a problem, but it would cross several incised valleys.
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South of Vasylivka, the HSL can run alongside the existing main line, for 70 km in an almost straight line, to Melitopol (Мелітополь, 160 000 inhabitants). Approaching the city, the proposed Kiev – Melitopol high-speed line would join the route. At Melitopol, passengers could change for the proposed Odessa – Rostov line.
South of Melitopol, the terrain is flat, and the rail line straight: at the base of the Crimean peninsula it crosses a region of lagoons. Here too, the HSL can run next to the existing line. Dzhankoy is the present junction with the line from Kherson, but the proposed Kiev – Kherson – Crimea HSL would include a new cut-off line. (Both lines would join, 20 km north of Simferopol).
Simferopol (Сімферополь, population 360 000) is located in the foothills of the Crimean Mountains, 200 km from Melitopol. The flat plain ends about 25 km from the city, but the alignment into the station is not a problem.
Simferopol is a transport interchange for the Black Sea resorts. They are the major destinations in the Crimea, but they are on the other side of the mountains. There is no rail link: the nearest thing is the trolleybus line from Simferopol to Yalta – the longest in the world. A new rail link here is not a precondition for a HSL to the Crimea, but it would form a logical complement to the proposal.
The existing line south-west to Sevastopol is single-track, and follows valleys through the foothills. A new parallel HSL would run relatively close to that line, with cut-off tunnels avoiding the curves. After Samokhvalove, the valleys are broader, and a new alignment is not a problem. About 7 km from the coast, the rail line turns south out of the Bel’bek valley, towards Sevastopol.
Sevastopol (Севастополь, population 380 000), is built around an arm of the sea. The existing approach line is convoluted – around the head of the inlet at Inkerman, and around several headlands. A bridge would have obstructed the naval harbour, which was so important to both Tsarist Russia and the Soviet Union. With declining military use, a bridge is an option, but the span would be at least 1200 m. The line would enter tunnel on the south bank, turning west toward the old town and port. A much simpler solution is a new approach line from the Bel’bek valley, terminating at a station on the north shore of the bay. (It would partly follow an existing freight line to the shipyards).
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Passengers would cross the inlet by ferry. It is not ideal, since most of Sevastopol is on the southern shore, but the existing station in a valley is not conveniently located either. Some trains could still use the old station.