The proposed Wallachian Plain high-speed rail corridor would link Bucharest (București) to Galați, and could be extended to to Odessa. This post is about the Brăila – Galați section.
The new high-speed rail line would run north-east from Bucharest to Urziceni, and then alongside the existing line 700, bypassing Făurei. The result is an almost straight rail line to Brăila station. (The diverging high-speed lines toward Buzău and Tecuci are not relevant here).
However, the existing line from Brăila to Galați, part of line 700, is far from straight. The two cities are only 20 km apart, but between them is a floodplain, at the confluence of the Siret and Danube rivers. The railway turns west and then back east, to cross the Siret. At Galați, it makes a long detour around the city to the main station.
The floodplain was reclaimed after the railway was built, but it is still low-lying, and protected by a river dike. A new road is planned across the farmland, and a new rail line could run alongside it, or parallel to it. Because of the flood risk, a new line would preferably be on viaduct.
The marshes between Brăila and Galați, from an Austro-Hungarian military map of around 1900…
The long route around the suburbs of Galați is also determined by topography. The city is built on a ridge, extending north from the Danube. The railway crosses it in tunnel, north of the city centre, and then turns south to the main station, Galați CFR. The station at Barboși, just after the bridge over the Siret, is more convenient for much of the city.
Tracks at Galați, from OpenStreetMap…
The new line would have four distinct sections. First, there would be a new exit tunnel from Brăila station, dropping to lower ground at the edge of the city, and passing about 15 m below housing.
The new line would then cross the farmland between Brăila and Galați. At the Siret river it would rejoin the existing alignment. This section would be parallel to the existing line into Barboși station. (The line from Tecuci, line 704, joins the Brăila line here). The line would then enter a 6-km tunnel under Galați.
The new HSL would have a station at Barboși, allowing interchange with the existing line. (The city’s small tram network would be extended, to serve this station). The HSL would continue alongside the old line, as far as the road overbridge, and enter the western tunnel portal. It may be easier for the new line to cross the old line twice, to give a better alignment.
The ground rises here, so the rail line would not descend to tunnel. Both portals would be at about 10 m elevation, and the tunnel would run level, about 30-40 m under the city. Although it passes under the city centre, there will be no station there. 40 m is too deep, and if the tunnel climbed nearer the surface, it would conflict with deep foundations.
Indicative tunnel alignment…
The line would emerge from tunnel about 300 m from the main station, and pass just south of it. Here too, the terrain slopes down from the city centre, so the HSL would stay level as it emerges from tunnel. It would cross the station zone on viaduct, at right angles to the existing platforms. The second Galați HSL station would be on this viaduct, allowing interchange with all existing lines.
A possible alternative alignment would have a tunnel portal further south, allowing the HSL to turn north into Galați CFR. That would require substantial demolition in a residential area. (With an additional viaduct eastwards, some trains might then serve the HSL station at Barboși, pass through the tunnel, and continue toward Reni without further stops).
At Galați CFR, high-speed trains would connect with the line from Tecuci, (line 704), the existing line 703 to Bârlad (Birlad), a possible line along the Prut valley line (which would use line 703 to exit Galați), and the broad-gauge line to Reni, which continues to Basarabeasca and Chișinău. The Reni line could also be extended to Izmail, another Danube port, 65 km east of Galați.
Rail routes from Galați, with new links…
East of the new viaduct station, the line would continue eastwards into a undeveloped zone with some industry. It can connect there to existing alignments and rail yards. A HSL extension toward Odessa would simply follow the existing line out of Galați, toward the Prut river bridge, Giurgiulești, and Reni.
The new line would be about 22 km long, station to station. The highest speeds are only possible on the open section between Brăila and the Siret bridge into Galați. Speeds in the city tunnel would be lower, and all trains would stop at Galați CFR anyway. Journey time would be about 9 minutes from Brăila to Galați CFR, more it the train stopped at Barboși. Although the existing line would be retained for freight, all passenger services would use the new line. To avoid overloading long-distance high-speed trains, there should be a shuttle service between Brăila, Barboși and Galați CFR. The tunnel under Galați could also be used by fast trains from the Tecuci line, but all others would use existing routes into Galați CFR.