Alas, at the other end of the line, there are 40 km of extremely worn tracks, as the train approaches Katowice. In effect, only for two thirds of the distance the train runs at 160 km/h. Even so, the average speed between the two cities is 117 km/h.
Not much is needed to speed up the trains there to 250, or even 350 km/h. The most costly thing are the high-speed trains themselves. But the country's oncoming economic expansion should make more than one foreign investor sense business in turning CMK into a truly high-speed line, even if it were to take 30 years to bring train headways between successive trains down to 3 minuteslike on the ParisLyon and TokyoOsaka lines.
A decade ago plans were being considered for the construction of a high-speed railway across Europe, to link Berlin and Moscow, via Poznań, Łódź, Warsaw and Minsk. At an average speed of well over 250 km/h, the train ride from Berlin to Moscow would take little more than six hours (as compared with the present 30 hours!). By then, the border stops and gauge changing will have to be eliminated, of course.
This trans-European high-speed railway can still be traced on a vintage schematic map of the PKP (Polish State Railways). In fact, some 40 km west of Warsaw the red trail crosses with the northern extension of the CMK (the latter is in black).
Whereas the trans-European line is not even mentioned in the current TEN-T (European Union) guidelines, the latter cover only the next six years
(up to 2010). And since the new central-Polish airport will not open until 2012, the chances are that the two projects will eventually converge some time between 2015 and 2020.
Turning from the futuristic map of high-speed railways to a topographical map of the region,
we find the planned northward extension of CMK marked by a broken line. Thus we can locate the area where CMK would intersect with the east-west red trail.
The place is some 36 km west of Warsaw. A mere 2 km south of the site runs the A2 (BerlinWarsaw) motorway,
scheduled to be completed in 2008. This motorway from Berlin was one of the ambitious projects of the 70s, to be ready for the 1980 Moscow Olympics. At the
point where the A2 was to pass over the future extension of CMK, a weird view opens from behind scattered trees to the straying wanderer.
For no other reason but the prospective convergence of the country's two major railways alongside the east-west motorway under construction, this site is ideally suited to accommodate the principal airport of Eastern Europeeven if it were located amidst a rolling landscape, or right in the middle of an extensive lake.
Fortunately, over dozens of miles west of Warsaw the country is level, the horizontal inclination not exceeding one metre per kilometre. And since, in view of prevailing western winds, the 4000-metre runways must have an east-west (latitudinal) orientation, their inclination lengthwise would be less than four metres.
Is the area not densely populated, perchance? Well, it happens to be populated below average because it abounds in rivulets engulfed by meadows; what remains to be done is either to channel the flows or divert them to neighbouring streams. To be sure, this is by no means a desert, rather the typical Polish landscape of small farming plots.