EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced this morning that the EU will proceed with a coordinated investment plan for Ukraine, whose EU membership is a foregone conclusion at this point, as well as for surrounding EU member states. This will include a cohesion fund for both war reconstruction and long-term investment, which will have a component marked for Belarus’s incorporation into the Union as well subject to the replacement of its current regime with a democratic government.
To handle the infrastructure component of the plan, an EU-wide rail agency, to be branded Eurail, will take over the TEN-T plan and extend it toward Ukraine. Sources close to all four major pro-European parties in the EU Parliament confirm that the current situation calls for a European solution, focusing on international connections both internally to the established member states and externally to newer members.
The office of French President Emmanuel Macron says that just as SNCF has built modern France around the TGV, so will Eurail build modern Europe around the TEN-T network, with Paris acting as the center of a continental-scale high-speed rail network. An anonymous source close to the president spoke more candidly, saying that Brussels will soon be the political capital of an ever closer economic and now infrastructural union, but Paris will be its economic capital, just as the largest city and financial center in the United States is not Washington but New York and that of Canada is not Ottawa but Toronto.
In Eastern Europe, the plan is to construct what German planners have affectionately called the Europatakt. High-speed rail lines, running at top speeds ranging between 200 and 320 km/h, are to connect the region as far east as Donetsk and as far northeast as Tallinn, providing international as well as domestic connections. Regional trains at smaller scale will be upgraded, and under the Europatakt they will be designed to connect to one another as well as to long-distance trains at regular intervals.
For example, the main east-west corridor is to connect Berlin with Kyiv via Poznań, Łódź, Warsaw, Lublin, Lutsk, and Zhytomyr. Berlin-Warsaw trips are expected to take 2.5 hours and Warsaw-Kyiv trips 3.5 hours, arranged so that trains on the main axis will serve Warsaw in both directions on the hour every hour, timing a connection with trains from Warsaw to Kaunas, Riga, Tallinn, and Helsinki and with domestic intercity and regional trains with Poland. In Ukraine, too, a connection will be set up in Poltava, 1.5 hours east of Kyiv, every hour on the hour as in Warsaw, permitting passengers to interchange between Kyiv, Kharkiv, Dnipro, and Donetsk.
Overall, the network through Poland, Ukraine, and the Baltic states, including onward connections to Berlin, Czechia, Bucharest, and Helsinki, is expected to be 6,000 km long, giving these countries comparable networks to those of France and Spain. The expected cost of the program is 150 billion euros plus another 50 billion euros for connections.