Ukraine War Day #384: Poland To Build Ukrainian Rail Network [continued]

Dear Readers:

Continuing (and concluding) my review of this piece by reporters Evgeny Pozdnyakov and Darya Volkova. The topic is the Polish project to build a network of railroad lines and hubs that would link Poland and Ukraine, according to the European rail gauge. This would help greatly in the logistics of moving NATO military equipment into Ukraine across the Polish border; and also the reverse process of moving, say, damaged tanks from Ukraine back into Poland, for repair.

The wannabe Polish Intermarium

Experts interviewed also believe that Polish ambitions go beyond just the current military situation. The Poles want to establish long-term trade relations with Ukraine that would continue after the war. To achieve this end, Poland wishes to build a line that would stretch all the way from the Polish border (and also crossing through Romania/Moldavia) down to Odessa on the Black Sea. Commenters have pointed out that such an ambitious project fits perfectly with Poland’s broader Intermarium Project. In which Poland hopes to return her past greatness as an Empire stretching from the Baltic Sea in the North to the Black Sea and even Mediterranean Sea in the South.

Where we left off: The reporters were gleaning the expert opinions from a man named Alexei Bezborodov, who runs a consulting company called InfraProjects. True to his name, Alexei has no beard, but he does possess a strong cleft chin. As befits a gigachad of the Russian construction industry. [yalensis: Reminding readers that Russia is a nation that is still capable, when it sets its mind to it, of building humongous projects like the Kerch Bridge.]

Bezborodov assures the reporters that the Poles are known for taking a very long time to build their infrastructure projects. They are slomos, not speedos. [yalensis: Maybe they lack that “Just do It!” positive attitude which the Russian Orcs inherited from the Mongols!]

Alexei Bezborodov: Is skeptical of Polish Will to Build.

Moreover, the Polish railway system itself has been shrinking in the past 15 years. It has shrunk by a third. Less than 10% of Polish goods move by rail, and the whole business is basically dying. [yalensis: Just like in America!] “Therefore, one cannot claim that the Poles have serious experience in the construction of such [large] projects,” Bezborodov states. “Ukrainian railway constructors have also practically not built anything in the past 35 years. Which also puts a negative spin on these plans. Currently the Germans are the ones with the most experience in this arena. Therefore I predict that [this Polish-Ukrainian] project is a kind of scam, designed to syphon money from the budget. Then, when it fails, it will be written off to Russian aggression, and the budgeted money will simply be stolen.”

Well, that is a very negative attitude. As for the projected rail line to Odessa, Bezborodov is similarly skeptical: “We have a minimum of 2 rivers to deal with. Laying lines on a bridge over the Dniester River — that is an extremely labor-intensive process. Besides which, the Romanian railway infrastructure is not capable of carrying the giant volume of cargo that Ukraine needs. Back in the day it used to carry components from the Romanian factory “Reno”, and it was capable of carrying only two car-fulls (два состава [?]) per day.

Leaving Bezborodov in peace and returning to Industry expert Anpilogov, who is also an Alexei, the reporters ask him the same questions and receive pretty much the same answers. Namely, skepticism about Polish-Ukrainian capabilities in bringing such projects to fruition. It’s not that the projects themselves are impossible, they just don’t think the Poles-Ukrainians have the right stuff for this sort of thing any more.

Alexei Anpilogov

Anpilogov also points out that everything contemplated now, is driven by military expediency; the logistical needs of the current war: “The West has an interest in the constant delivery of military equipment. Theoretically, this is achievable, if the European gauge is laid all the way to Lvov, where the military equipment can be reloaded.”

When asked if it is feasible for the Russians to blow up these railway projects in the middle of the war, Anpilogov remarks that “the railway lines themselves are practically immune from destruction.” Even if some stretch of line is damaged, it is very easy to repair it, “even in just a couple of days.” He thinks it makes more sense “to destroy the bridges, tunnels, the highway overpasses, etc.”

Bezborodov agrees that Russia should, if not necessarily destroy, at least try to “de-activate” the new railway network by focusing on the same objects as mentioned by Anpilogov. This will be accomplished by sabotage operations conducted by Spetznaz diversionary groupings. Of course, none of that will be necessary if the projects simply fizzle on their own.

As for the legacy system in place, Bezborodov believes it is child’s play to de-activate it: “With the exception of the newer Kiev-Kharkov-Odessa lines built to service passengers for the European Football Championship, the larger part of the Ukrainian railway net is in terrible condition. Therefore, it will not take that much effort to take it out.”

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19 Responses to Ukraine War Day #384: Poland To Build Ukrainian Rail Network [continued]

  1. michaeldroy says:

    Give it 10 years and China will take the task on and do it in 12 months.
    This, like Abrams tanks, and Patriots, is deckchairs on the Titanic.


    • yalensis says:

      Interesting that you mention the Chinese. Historically they are excellent railroad workers. I was reading somewhere recently that Chinese ethnics composed a large part of the workforce that built the Trans-Siberian line through Russia and Mongolia.
      And, of course, everybody knows that Chinese laborers were key in building the American railroad as well. It seems like, wherever there is a railroad, some Chinese were involved! Not to mention their success in building their own high-speed lines. Sort of a specialty, I reckon.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Liborio Guaso says:

    The curious thing about the case is that these great efforts are planned only to transport more weapons and to be able to kill more human beings, whether due to racial or religious hatred, it never occurs to him to do so to help the population.


  3. et Al says:

    I’m glad that the gauge was mentioned as it makes sense that it would have to be u-Ropean standard. Rather than blowing up tracks (misdirection?), um, how will it be powered? Will it run diesel locomotives or the more traditional electric which require power from somewhere. This is far more vunlnerable and harder to replace than mere tracks…


    • yalensis says:

      For now they would have to run diesel locomotives. Because the Ukrainian electricity system is in a sort of crisis right now, from what I understand.


  4. Gareth says:

    Poland is holding national elections in the fall. This rail project is the sort of crap politicians float to make themselves look like they are accomplishing something. The Intermarium! After the election the fantasy project fades away and they will blame it on the Russian. At least that’s how American politicians do it, lying bastards.


    • S Brennan says:

      My ignorance is showing; from your perspective who are the players and what interests do they represent?


      • Gareth says:

        I’m just cynical. How competent is the Polish government really? Maybe they will extort funding from the NATO slush fund for the project, but by the time they get to Odessa it will be a Russian city. The hyena of Europe’s real goal may be to build the railroad to Lvov to make it a Polish city when Ukraine collapses. All the better if someone else pays for it.


  5. upstater says:

    Yalensis, you might consider looking into Rail Baltica, an EU funded 1435mm standard gauge railway from Poland north Kaunas, Riga and Tallinn. It is a new right of way. I believe it is operating to Kaunas, but has construction ongoing over the entire route. There also wild visions of a tunnel to Finland. This fits in with the aspired Polish-Lithuanian empire.

    Obviously it is for a military purpose, as is the Via Baltica highway.

    I’d expect the Baltics have supplied many 1520mm gauge diesels to Ukraine. Much of their freight were exports from Russia and Belarus to Baltic ports.


  6. Daniel Rich says:

    When someone says, “I’m going to… [fill in the blanks]”

    I simply say, “Come back when it’s done and then report back to me.”

    Regardless, hope all’s well in your neck of the woods :o]


  7. ChanceyG says:

    I would have though that the most aggressive thing (with some degree of plausible deniability) that the Ukrainians/EU/NATO could have done in the 8 years preceding the SMO would have been to change their railway gauge to match that of Poland. Significantly more aggressive than any parliamentary/presidential logorrhea about which multinational organization they were going to joint. Was this being discussed during that time period?
    If it didn’t happen in that period it seems unlikely that will be happening anytime soon.


    • yalensis says:

      I agree! That would have made the most sense. If I were in the Ukrainian government at the time, I think I would embarked on that project. But maybe it is too ambitious a project for such a corrupt government to undertake.

      Although, I know they did do some work in this field, like building some nice passengers trains and new lines for the football game. So, I do believe they had some competent personnel and infrastructure in place in the railway business, they could have leveraged that for a bigger project.


  8. This post raises questions in my mind that stem from my underlying perspective of “pay attention to the economics of something, not the politics of it.” It’s “politics” to claim “we want to be your friend and help you build something.” It’s “economics” to wonder “how is this thing going to pay for itself, so will it be worthwhile to do it?”

    Put aside the legitimate concerns with doing a construction project in the middle of a war, and the Poles‘ slow pace with building rail lines, as previous commenters have mentioned. (It’s not just the Poles — look at how badly California is doing with its plans to build high-speed rail between Los Angeles and San Francisco.) The important thing is: “What’s the business case for this ‘re-jigger your railroad tracks‘ proposal? How’re ya gonna make it pay?”

    Human workers will be involved with laying down those tracks. They’ve got to buy food to eat so they can live, they have to pay for the houses they live in, etc. So somebody’s got to be paying their wages. Who? Expanding on that viewpoint, somebody also has to be paying the wages of the humans who make the steel rails, the “sleepers” (railroad ties underneath the tracks), all the train station platforms that have to be built to accommodate the changed-dimension tracks, earthworks for rebuilt railroad beds, etc. And the big diesel-burning machines that do all this — somebody had to pay the wages of the humans who built THEM.

    Ultimately,it comes down to energy (a factor I’m always harping on.) You have to use a lot of electricity, or oil, or natural gas, to smelt the ore (or recycled scrap metal) to make those rails and machines. Where’s that energy going to come from? Not Russia! (I would assume). Is Poland (or Germany) going to use its limited supply of energy to run a factory making steel for Ukrainian train tracks, while some little old lady shivers in an unheated apartment because she can’t afford the electricity that now costs €500 a week since there are not enough electrons to go around, and the law of supply and demand says “Jack up the prices!”?

    The political bosses at the top would probably be OK with that. “Screw you, granny wrinkleface! We like the 3daybeard guy in the khaki T-shirt better.” But society eventually hollows out and crumbles because frozen-dead little old ladies stop buying tins of fancy cat food to feed their 37 pets (all those LOLs are krazy kat ladeez; it’s a documented fact!) so the grocery store that stocked the cat food goes bankrupt. And so on.

    What’s the “value added” from the track-layers‘ wages, and the machines that are used to do that instead of building new Tilt-A-Whirls for traveling circuses that visit rural Polish villages to bring some entertainment into their dull, provincial lives? I’m being facetious with that last part, of course, but there’s always an economic question of competing demands for resources. The politicians who make the promises might want one thing, but the number-crunchers who have to decide “We need 137 men using 43,445 metric tonnes of steel laid down by these 98 machines to complete 258 km of track” are going to have a different perspective. Mainly, “how the hell can we afford that?”

    New train lines to Lvov, or Kyeeeeeeeeeev, or Odessa (however it’s spelled these days, depending on which side you’re on) might be a great political gesture. Are they going to carry enough passengers, paying ___ zlotys per ride, to make that profitable? Certainly not — train travel doesn’t pay for itself based on ticket prices; it needs to be subsidised since it’s a public good. Will there be enough wheat exports on the new tracks, or imports of cheap plastic crap from China that are routed through the Black Sea, to make that train line viable? Especially because the business case for that will have to be compared to the case for doing it like it was done before. “Sure, it costs us 25% less to run that shipment now that we don’t have to re-load at the border, but we spent 250% more to rebuild those tracks, and we’re deep in the hole financially. Plus everything around Kyyyyyyyeeeev is a burnt-out wreck with starving zombikrainians knocking visitors down so they can steal their shoes and boil the leather for soup, and nobody wants to travel there.”

    Even the military transport angle that is brought up in this installment does not make an economic rationale, because the current conflict will not last forever. And as pointed out, it could be blown up. Not worth a big investment!

    That’s a simplified (and silly) look at some of the dynamics of this rail deal. My opinion is that it’s like so much of the vapourware mooted by SillyCon Valley software mooks. (Spellchecker puts a “you’ve done wrong!” red line under mooks, but not SillyCon. That’s odd. “Mooks” is not a proper word but “SillyCon” is?”) It sounds great on paper, (“sounds on paper” is a contradiction in terms, eh?) but it stinks when it comes to making it happen in the real world.


    • yalensis says:

      Those are all important issues. I mean, any big infrastructure project (even a medium-size project) needs a high-level sponsor or “champion” (as we call it in I.T.). Why were the pyramids built? Because the Pharaoh decided he needed a fancy tomb, and he had the power and resources to command an army of laborers.

      Why was the Kerch Strait Bridge built? Because it was desperately needed, and the Russian government was willing to foot the bill and hire the laborers.

      Or, as in my favorite palindrome:


  9. Chinese manufactured shovel thrown by an Iranian pilot flying a Russian plane brings down Amerikastani drone.

    Everything else you may have heard is fake news!

    Liked by 1 person

    • yalensis says:

      Have you seen the video reconstruction made by CBS news?
      The Russian warplane sneaks underneath the American drone, soils it with a fuel dump, then gently clips it and continues on, while the drone plunges into the Black Sea.

      I still can’t figure out why the plane smeared the drone with fuel. Was this just a gesture of contempt on the part of the pilot? Or was there a more practical reason to coat the drone with oil? I read that the Russians were able to lift the drone from the sea, now they can toss it onto a slab and study it in their laboratory.


      • IANTC (I am not Tom Cruise) but here’s my thought on why a jet fighter would dump fuel in front of a flying target (probably by pumping it into the afterburner system without igniting it): if you want to mess up a piece of sophisticated equipment, spraying a flammable liquid on it is a good start. Maybe it will get into an engine air intake on the drone and begin burning, or some hot internal electrical part will catch it on fire. If nothing else, jet fuel (in commercial aircraft, it’s similar to kerosene, not oil; not sure about fighter planes) might interfere with cameras and other sensors.

        Ramming something while you’re flying at hundreds of kilometres an hour is not a wise thing to do. You might recall the incident, early in the Bush II regime, before he and Cheney went full war-monger on the Muslim world, when a Chinese jet hit a U.S. spy plane that was forced down on Hainan Island. Hostage drama ensued! (Didn’t turn out so well for the Chinese pilot.) Was it you or some other Russosphere blogger that posted a link to a story about an Russian pilot in the Spanish Civil War who deliberately rammed a fascist plane to bring it down? There are several episodes like that in Soviet aeronautical history. Spoiler alert! Nobody wound up doing that twice…


        • yalensis says:

          Your theory totally makes sense. So, best hypothesis to date that we can comeup with:

          The Russian pilot was using some kind of standard trick (coating the drone with fuel) to damage it and prevent it from doing whatever it was supposed to do (be it surveillance or launching hellfire missiles.

          The ramming was accidental, and the pilot was damned lucky that he escaped unscathed!


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