High-speed rail line Kiev – Vinnytsia – Iași – Bucharest

High-speed rail lines through Vinnytsia, UkraineThis Kiev – Vinnytsia – Bucharest high-speed rail line is part of a series of proposals. Read the introduction: high-speed rail in the Ukraine. Alignments are not given in any detail.

The high-speed line (HSL) would share an alignment with the proposed HSL Kiev – Vinnytsia – Odessa, to its junction with the existing main line to Odessa. From there, the HSL would be extended across the Dniester to Bălţi, Iași and Bucharest. The relationship with other HSL lines south of Kiev is is shown in the diagram, right.

The entire corridor, from Kiev to Bucharest through Bessarabia, is roughly 900 km long. The Kiev (Kyiv, Київ) urban region has a population of 2,6 million, Bucharest (București) about 2 million. With a few intermediate stations at roughy 100-200 km spacing, the corridor is suitable for a high-speed line. The topography is a problem, certainly in the Ukraine: railways must either follow incised river valleys, or use tunnels to create direct routes. The existing rail network is not well developed: the region was historically contested between the Ottoman and Russian empires. The line passes through Ukraine, Moldova and Romania: as with all other proposals here, this one ignores the borders.

HSL corridor Kiev - Bucharest.

From Vinnytsia, the proposed Odessa HSL would run south, to join the existing Odessa line near Yurkivka. The HSL to Bucharest would diverge near this junction, about 60 km from Vinnytsia, and continue south to cross the Dniester near Soroca. An alternative route would pass Mohyliw-Podilskyj (Moghilǎu): in that case the HSL, would follow the existing line from Vinnytsia to Zhmerynka. (That alignment could be shared with a HSL to Chernivtsi and Budapest). The only logical intermediate station on this section is at Mohyliw or Soroca: both have similar populations, about 35 000.

The major obstacle is the incised valley of the Dniester / Nistru, about 150 m below the surrounding plateau. Due to differential erosion on the river meanders, one side is usually higher than the other, which makes bridge construction difficult. The towns along the river are often at the foot of an escarpment.

The escarpment at Soroca from the north…

Even at the most favorable location, about 12 km downstream from Mohyliw, a bridge would be about 1700 m long. Nearer either town, up to 4 km of viaduct would be needed, although a 3000 m viaduct above Mohyliw itself is also theoretically possible.

The next station would be at Bălți (population 144 000), the regional centre of northern Moldova. With a Dniester crossing near Mohyliw-Podilskyj. the new HSL can at least partly follow an existing line into Bălți (via Drochia). The northern approach would also avoid a convoluted alignment through Bălți itself. The Vinnytsia – Bălți section would be about 190-200 km long.

From Bălți, the HSL could following the existing railway along the Prut valley, but it enters Iași from the south. A shorter alignment is also possible, west of Făleşti, with a new tunnel into Iași from the north.

Click to enlarge: The proposed alignment into Iași, superimposed on an Austro-Hungarian military map of around 1905.

HSL from Kiev through  Iaşi, with new tunnel into station.

The line can follow stream valleys in the hills north of Iași: the main obstacle is an escarpment at the edge of the Prut floodplain. A 3-km tunnel would be needed there, and a shorter tunnel into Iași station. This section would be about 90 km long.

Iași (population 310 000) is the main city of north-eastern Romania. The new tunnel into the station would allow trains to exit in the direction of Bucharest. In the hills south of the city another new tunnel, about 4-5 km long, would improve the southern exit toward the Bârlad (Birlad) valley.

Click to enlarge: The flat valley floor of the Birlad, from an Austro-Hungarian military map of 1904.

Bârlad (Birlad) valley, 1904 map.

South of Iaşi, the HSL would follow the existing ‘main lines’ 600 and 700. In fact these are not electrified and mainly single-track, but they follow relatively wide valley floors, suitable for new HSL construction. At Tecuci, the railway enters the plains of southern Romania, at about 200 km from Bucharest.

Route options across the plains…

HSL Kiev - Iași - Bucharest, route options south of Tecuci.

With a new alignment across the plains, the HSL Iaşi – Bucharest could be under 400 km long, giving a total of under 700 km from Vinnytsia, and about 900 km from Kiev. The HSL corridor Bucharest – Iaşi could also include part of a HSL to Galați, in turn part of a HSL corridor Bucharest – Odessa.

High-speed rail line Kiev – Vinnytsia – Iași – Bucharest

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