The Solidarity Transport Hub is the current Polish government’s biggest flagship transportation project. It is planned as an interchange located between Warsaw and Łódź at a distance of about 37 km west of Warsaw, over an area of about 30 km². The STH is expected to fully integrate air, rail, and road transportation into one cohesive high-capacity system, which will enable easy and fast movement of people and goods across Poland, the European Union, and beyond.
It promises to be a transportation revolution and change the way Poles travel. Until now, Poland’s transportation system has operated in a dispersed model. In the most optimistic version, this is set to change in 2027, when the airport will be ready.
The focal point of the Solidarity Transport Hub is the Solidarity Airport, with two runways and four terminals capable of handling 45 million passengers a year in the first phase of investment. Airport City is also to be built in the STH area, which means, among other things, a new trade fair and convention, conference rooms, and office facilities. Which in turn means many new opportunities for small and large businesses. From the airport, like the spokes of a wheel, rail, and road lines will develop and connect to already existing highways and rail routes.
Rail and road component
The new ground connections that will be built as part of the investment are even more important for increasing Poland’s transport and freight capacity than a centrally located airport.
The rail component of the STH program calls for the construction, by 2040, of 1,600 km of new lines leading from 10 directions to the Airport and Warsaw, including high-speed lines. All major cities will be connected to STH and the capital city.
This means that not only travelers and freight operators heading to the airport will benefit from the new infrastructure, especially since the hub’s location was chosen to be close to the intersection of the major east-west/north-south highways and the planned highway bypass of Warsaw. If these ambitious plans are realized, a trip from Warsaw to any city in Poland will take no more than 2.5 hours, and a trip to the airport – no more than 2 hours.
Solidarity Transport Hub is needed after all
At the end of 2022, the flagship infrastructure project of the Three Seas Initiative, Via Carpatia, and vital elements of the Solidarity Transport Hub’s infrastructures (railroads and highways) were included in the core network of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T).
This act alone confirms the STH’s capital importance for European infrastructure development. STH’s addition to the TEN-T list will provide additional funding from the EU’s CEF program, which will certainly positively impact the speed of implementation and the success of investments. The defense aspect is also not without significance. There are voices within NATO itself that STH is essential as a potential logistics center for the army if we are serious about securing the eastern flank.
A separate issue is STH’s potential competition in the form of the big Berlin-Brandenburg airport. The German side tactfully notes that the Polish investment will not affect the interests of its western neighbors in any significant way, positive or negative. However, there are many indications that the Polish hub may provide a more attractive and economical travel option for some passengers using German airports. Solidarity Airport will have more intra-European connections, and it will take just three hours to get there from Germany.
In addition, STH bridges the transportation gap to Central and Eastern Europe while providing a gateway to booming Asia. After all, it’s not without reason that South Korea’s Incheon Airport became STH’s investment partner, confirming the burgeoning strategic partnership between Poland and South Korea.
Tiem shall verify Poland’s ambitious plans. Such a huge investment has a certain risk of delays embedded in its DNA, but the first step has been taken, and so far, everything is heading in the right direction and continues on the right track.