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Transport in Poland

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Transport in Poland

Transport in Poland involves air traffic, waterways, roads and railroads.

As a country located at the 'cross-roads' of Europe, Poland, with its developed economy, is a nation with a large and increasingly modern network of transport infrastructure.

The Polish highway network has been viewed in the past as chronically underdeveloped and lacking in basic modern infrastructure. After the fall of communism and after joining the European Union, this situation is rapidly changing for the better and in the next decade Poland plans to have a very modern network of highways. The country's most important waterway is the river Vistula. The largest seaports are the Port of Szczecin and Port of Gdańsk. Air travel is generally used for international travel, with many flights originating at Warsaw Chopin Airport. Railways connect all of Poland's major cities and the state-owned Polish State Railways (PKP) corporation, through its subsidiaries, runs a great number of domestic and international services of varying speed and comfort. In addition to this, five out of sixteen Polish voivodeships have their own provincial rail service providers. Many major Polish cities have rapid transit systems (typically tram networks) and public transport is available in most areas throughout the country.


  • Roads 1
    • Motorways and expressways 1.1
  • Air transport 2
    • National airlines 2.1
    • Airports 2.2
    • Main airports 2.3
  • Marine 3
    • Waterways 3.1
    • Ports and harbors 3.2
    • Merchant marine 3.3
  • Railways 4
    • Passenger transport market 4.1
      • Narrow gauge railways 4.1.1
    • Freight transport market 4.2
      • Broad gauge railways 4.2.1
    • Rail system 4.3
      • Rail links with adjacent countries 4.3.1
  • Municipal transport 5
    • Bus 5.1
    • Tram 5.2
    • Trolleybus 5.3
    • Metro 5.4
  • Pipelines 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


Map of planned motorway and expressway network in Poland.
A2 near Poznań, opened in 2003

Polish public roads are grouped into categories related to administrative division. Poland has 412,264 km (256,170 mi) of public roads, of which 131,863 km (81,940 mi) are unsurfaced (2011):[1]

  • National roads (Classes A, S, GP and exceptionally G): 18,801 km (11,680 mi), 1.9 km (1 mi) unsurfaced
  • Voivodeship roads (Classes G, Z and exceptionally GP): 28,476 km (17,690 mi), 63.2 km (39 mi) unsurfaced
  • Powiat roads (Classes G, Z and exceptionally L): 127,743 km (79,380 mi), 11,379 km (7,070 mi) unsurfaced
  • Gmina roads (Classes L, D and exceptionally Z): 237,244 km (147,420 mi), 120,419 km (74,820 mi) unsurfaced

According to national roads state report by GDDKiA in 2008 1/4 of national roads were capable of handling 11.5 tonnes per axle loads.[2]

In recent years, the network has been improving and government spending on road construction recently saw a huge increase, due to rapid development of the country and the inflow of European Union funds for infrastructure projects.[3]

Motorways and expressways

Polish motorways and expressways are part of national roads network. As of December 2012, there are 1,330 kilometres (830 mi) of motorways[4] (autostrady, singular - autostrada) and 1,144 km (710 mi) of expressways[4] (drogi ekspresowe, singular - droga ekspresowa).

Motorways in Poland, 1,330 km (830 mi) (2012):

A1 | A2 | A4 | A6 | A8 | A18

Expressways in Poland, 1,144 km (710 mi) (2012):

S1 | S2 | S3 | S5 | S6 | S7 | S8 | S10 | S11 | S12 | S14 | S17 | S19 | S22 | S51 | S61 | S69 | S74 | S79 | S86

Air transport

Location of main airports in Poland, with number of passengers served in 2011
Copernicus Airport Wrocław - interior of the terminal T2

The most important airport in Poland is Warsaw 'Frederic Chopin' International Airport. Warsaw's airport is the main international hub for LOT Polish Airlines and currently serves as the destination for around 75% of all major international flights into Poland. With the development, and upcoming privatisation of LOT in 2011, the airport is hoping to see yet more routes opened to destinations around the globe.

In addition to Warsaw Chopin, Wrocław, Gdańsk, Katowice, Kraków and Poznań all have major international airports.

In preparation for the Euro 2012 football championships being jointly hosted by Poland and Ukraine, a number of airports around the country were renovated and redeveloped. This included the building of new terminals with an increased number of jetways and stands at both Copernicus Airport in Wrocław and Lech Wałęsa Airport in Gdańsk.

National airlines


The Polish airline market was until 2004 a closed market, with bilateral agreements between countries served from the national hub – Warsaw. The regional airports were mostly serving as spokes, and were controlled by PPL, the state-owned airport authority. However, in the 1990s it was decided to deregulate the airport market and abolish the dominant position of PPL. Nearly all local airports, apart from Zielona Góra airport, became separate companies, with local governments involved in their management, which led to the partial decentralisation. Soon after opening of Polish sky for competition, flights “avoiding” the Warsaw hub became more common.

There are twelve passenger airports in operation, and there is also an airport Heringsdorf in German village Garz, 7 kilometers from Polish seaside spa Świnoujście.

However, the rapid development (8% of increase of passengers served at Polish airports in 2008 compared to 2007) of the unsaturated market and the existence of vast areas of land not covered by airports within 100 kilometers of journey, allow to assume that many new airports could be necessary to properly serve this land populated by approx. 38.2–35.8 million inhabitants. Especially the area of eastern Poland should be better penetrated by airline traffic. There is a network of secondary airports that could be used, but lack of capital and expertise prohibit their utilisation (case of Biała Podlaska Airport at the Belarussian border).

Main airports

The following are the largest airports in Poland, with passenger and cargo traffic flow (2009):[5]

Number of airports in Poland – 123 (1999 est.)

Airports with paved runways: Total: 84 (2005)

  • over 3,047 m: 4
  • 2,438 to 3,047 m: 29
  • 1,524 to 2,437 m: 41
  • 914 to 1,523 m: 7
  • under 914 m: 3

Airports – with unpaved runways: Total: 39 (2005)

  • 2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
  • 1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
  • 914 to 1,523 m: 13
  • under 914 m: 21

Heliports: 2 (2005)


Ferries of Polish company Unity Line at the Port of Świnoujście
Gdynia's main municipal marina

Marine transport in Poland has two main sub-groups, riverine and seaborne. On the Baltic Sea coast, a number of large seaports exist to serve the international freight and passenger trade; these are typically deep water ports and are able to serve very large ships, including the ro-ro ferries of Unity Line, Polferries and Stena Line which operate the PolandScandinavia passenger lines.

Riverine services operate on almost all major Polish rivers and canals (such as the Danube–Oder and Elbląg canals) as well as on domestic coastal routes.


Poland has 3,997 km (2,480 mi) of navigable rivers and canals (as of 2009).

Ports and harbors

Merchant marine

Total: 57 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 1,120,165 GRT/1,799,569 tonnes deadweight (DWT)

Ships by type: bulk 50, cargo 2, chemical tanker 2, roll-on/roll-off 1, short-sea passenger 2 (1999 est.)


Intercity- and Eurocity- connections in Poland
A PKP Intercity ED250 Pendolino at Wrocław Main Station
Gdańsk Main Station, one of Poland's most important railway terminals
A Polish locomotive takes over haulage duty from a Deutsche Bahn unit at Rzepin on a Berlin-Warsaw Express train
An electric multiple unit push - pull of Koleje Mazowieckie

Poland is served by an extensive network of railways. In most cities the main railway station is located near a city centre and is well connected to the local transportation system. The infrastructure is operated by PKP PLK ( PKP-Polskie Linie Kolejowe : PKP-Polish Rail Lines), part of state-run PKP Group. The rail network is very dense in western and northern Poland, while eastern part of the country is less developed.

The only high-speed rail line (though by most definitions, real high-speed rail only includes speeds over 200 km/h) in central-eastern Europe is the Centralna Magistrala Kolejowa (CMK), the Central Railway Route. It has a length of 223 km (139 mi), and was built in 1971–1977; it links Warsaw with Kraków and Katowice. Trains on the CMK achieve speed up to 160 km/h (some sections allow up to 200 km/h, but the rolling stock has not yet been adapted to handle higher speed). On 11 May 1994, the Italian train Pendolino broke Polish speed record, going on the CMK at 250 km/h. This previous speed, however, has been broken as of 2013, to 291 km/h on the CMK.

Other high-speed lines:

Projects The Warsaw–GdańskGdynia line is being upgraded to allow speed up to 200 km/h, and the Warsaw–Łódź line is being upgraded to allow speed up to 160 km/h (in order to bind together the Warsaw–Łódź agglomeration). There are long-term plans to construct a new high-speed line (350 km/h) from Warsaw to Poznań and Wrocław with forks in Łódź and Kalisz.[6]

The PKP Group is the fourth largest railway throughout Europe. Trains are run by its different subsidiaries.

Passenger transport market

The following companies operate in Poland:

Narrow gauge railways

There are hundreds of kilometres of 600 mm (1 ft 11 58 in), 750 mm (2 ft 5 12 in), 785 mm (2 ft 6 2932 in), and 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in) narrow gauge lines in Poland. These railways are mostly in decline, some surviva as a museum or tourist railways.

Freight transport market

Broad gauge railways

LHS links southern Poland with broad gauge railways in Ukraine and other eastern countries

Except for Linia Hutnicza Szerokotorowa, and a few very short stretches near border crossings, Poland uses the standard gauge for its railways. Therefore Linia Hutnicza Szerokotorowa (known by its acronym LHS, English: Broad gauge steelworks line) in Sławków is the longest broad gauge railway line in Poland. The line runs on a single track for almost 400 km (250 mi) from the Polish-Ukrainian border, crossing it just east of Hrubieszów. It is the westernmost broad gauge railway line in Europe that is connected to the broad gauge rail system of the countries of the former Soviet Union.

Rail system

Total: 23,420 km (14,550 mi)

  • standard gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) : 21,639 km (13,450 mi) (11,626 km (7,220 mi) electrified; 8,978 km (5,580 mi) double track)
  • broad gauge 1,520 mm (4 ft 11 2732 in) : 646 km (401 mi)
  • narrow gauge (various) : 1,135 km (710 mi) various gauges including 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in), 785 mm (2 ft 6 2932 in), 750 mm (2 ft 5 12 in), and 600 mm (1 ft 11 58 in) (1998)

As of December 2002 narrow gauge railways were no longer owned or operated by PKP. They were transferred to regional authorities or became independent companies.

Rail links with adjacent countries

Municipal transport

City bus, manufactured by Polish company Solaris


Most Polish towns and cities have well developed municipal bus services. Typically, a city possesses its own local bus company, however, in some cases they have private competitors operating on certain lines upon the agreement with local authorities.

Until the 1990s, interurban connections were operated by a single, state-owned company PKS. Since then, it has been broken into a number of independent national and municipal enterprises. In addition, several private operators emerged. There are two classes of service distinguished by vehicle length:

  • autobus — longer vehicles (12.0 m and more),
  • bus — shorter vehicles with smaller capacity, very popular on local connections, run by individual persons and smaller companies.

While they often use the same bus stops, they tend to use different stations.


Bigger cities run dense tram networks, which are the primary mean of public transport. Currently, there are 14 systems serving over 30 cities including Bydgoszcz, Gdańsk, Katowice, Kraków, Łódź, Poznań, Szczecin, Warsaw and Wrocław, with the total track length varying from 200 km (120 mi) (Silesian Interurbans) to less than 10 km (6 mi) (Tramways in Grudziądz). A new network is being constructed in Olsztyn. See the list: List of town tramway systems in Europe#Poland

Since the 1990s, a number of cities attempts to upgrade certain parts of their networks to the light rail standard (called szybkie tramwaje, eng. fast trams). The most notable investments are Poznań Fast Tram and Kraków Fast Tram with the underground 1.5 km (0.9 mi) premetro section.


Trolleybuses can be found in three cities: Gdynia (with some lines reaching Sopot), Lublin and Tychy.


The first and currently the only metro line was opened in Warsaw in 1995. The second line is under construction. There are no official plans to build metro in other cities due to the lack of funds, but there is an ongoing debate whether they should be built, especially in Kraków and Wrocław.

See: Warsaw Metro


  • Crude oil and petroleum products 2,280 km (1,420 mi)
  • Natural gas 13,500 km (8,390 mi)

(2006 est.)

See also


  1. ^ Transport - activity results in 2011 Główny Urząd Statystyczny
  2. ^ [1] GDDKiA (Polish)
  3. ^ Adisa Banjanovic, Improving Poland's transport infrastructure
  4. ^ a b Polish motorways and expressways stats on skyscrapercity(Polish)
  5. ^ [2] (Polish), 2007
  6. ^ In brief: High Speed Rail will invade Poland by 2020, Transport Expertise Association, Matthieu Desiderio, 11 June 2008.

External links

  • [3]], [4]] Online rail timetables, [5] Online rail and bus timetable
  • Rail Map: Poland (PDF) Most minor lines omitted
  • Road Map: Poland
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