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Fight for Poznań train station. Competition necessary, there are new ideas

27 of September '22

The station is to be from a competition , Poznan architects, community activists and parliamentarians are calling for. This is a reaction to the railroad's declarations, dictated by sudden haste, to abandon the competition formula. "There is no point in rushing now," explains communications specialist Dr. Michal Beim. Instead, he confirms that the following are possible and reasonable: the hitherto unconsidered new location of the station and - a railroad tunnel under the city center.

Dr. Beim's words came during Monday's meeting of the parliamentary team for the Poznan Central Railway Station. Established in 2020, the body seeks to watch over the restoration of the Poznań station's functionality and passenger comfort. Today, as we've written about many times, the so-called new station from 2012, the so-called breadbox - an uncomfortable and cramped building connected to a large shopping mall - is in use. It replaced an old (and shuttered) station with much better amenities (we covered the story of the twists and turns in this case, among others, here).

The railroaders did not come

Monday's meeting, held at the Poznan Fairgrounds, was a counter to the railroaders' announcement that - contrary to an agreement with the magistrate more than two years ago - they want to choose the design of the new station building not in a competition, but in a tender. We should add that, according to the agreement, the reconstruction of the station was to be completed this December. Meanwhile, there is not even a design. Surprisingly, the authorities of Poznań began to think along the same lines as PKP, explaining in early September that the competition was an unnecessary expense and a waste of time. Do they still think so? No one knows. The magistrate representatives present at Monday's meeting did not speak at all. Even more significant was the silence of railroaders and the government. The invited representatives of the PKP and the Ministry of Infrastructure simply did not come to the meeting.

Tereny stacji Poznań Główny

Poznań Główny station area - Decapitated station square, on the left the "breadbox", on the right the closed station building. Between them - a parking lot over the railroad tracks.

Photo: Jakub Głaz

Thus, parliamentarians, community members and architects from SARP and invited specialists deliberated without their participation. Most postulated: the competition must not be abandoned. MP Franciszek Sterczewski, who chaired the meeting, asked what an ideal competition procedure should look like. Wojciech Krawczuk, president of the Poznań branch of SARP, leaned primarily toward formulas that would lead to the final project in stages. He mentioned that the Association has sent a letter on the competition to the president of PKP and the mayor of Poznań. Piotr Grabowski of SARP added:

In the case of such an object, any path chosen will be difficult. However, before we get to the competition, the most important thing is to determine what we specifically want in the station area.

without hurry and with head

The great importance of analysis and the development of baseline conditions was also pointed out by MP Waldy Dzikowski. Dr. Michal Beim, a transportation and communications specialist from the University of Life Sciences in Poznań (and also a member of the PKP board of directors in 2016-2017 trying to reform the company's operations at the time), provided extensive substantive comments here. He commented on the railroaders' sudden rush:

Now there is no substantive reason to speed up the construction process. After all, it will no longer be possible to erect the station with money from the current EU handout. And it is difficult to talk about the next financial perspective yet.

Therefore, there is time for the analyses that have not been done to date, as well as the device of a competition. More: perhaps the delay is a chance to go beyond routine thinking about restoring the station in its old location. It was better than the place where the "breadbox" now stands, but it also had drawbacks. That's why from time to time since the 1930s it was considered to move the station a few hundred meters to the north, closer to the inner city - between Kaponiera and the Station Bridge. This sensible change of location was also planned by the Germans during the occupation.

Tereny stacji Poznań Główny

The grounds of the Poznań Główny station - the grounds north of the Dworcowy Bridge. Sensible location for the new Poznań Główny station. On the left the fairgrounds, in the background the Bałtyk office building (designed by MVRDV) near the Kaponiera traffic circle

photo: Jakub Głaz

At the meeting, we asked Dr. Beim whether such a solution, we recalled, is still possible. Michal Beim:

Yes, a new station with a sufficient number of platforms would fit in the new location. However, the use of the station and the arrangement of schedules would have to change dramatically, somewhat along the lines of Warsaw Central. This is because there would be no room for very long train stops. This is a good thing, by the way, because regional connections will cease to end at the Central Station. They will become more efficient through lines connecting towns on opposite sides of Poznań.

A tunnel to top it off

Speaking about the change in approach to the organization of transportation, Dr. Beim added that this will strengthen service to the city's neighborhoods by rail transportation. He recalled an idea he had already postulated for a rail tunnel under the city center - connecting the Central Station with the Poznan East station, for example, with three underground stops along the way.

This is a cost comparable to the planned extension of the third track of the route to Warsaw anyway, and will enable a sensible separation of regional and local traffic from nationwide traffic. As in Lodz, such a tunnel will become something like a subway.

Both the tunnel and the new location of the station would greatly benefit the urban planning of the center. First, the scaled-down Kaponiera traffic circle, which - contrary to plans - has no major transfer function, would make sense. Secondly , the importance of Swiety Marcin Street would gain, finally receiving at its end a destination point in the form of a main station. Therefore, at the end of the meeting, the undersigned appealed for serious consideration of this option, especially since the redesign of the mess created after the construction of the "breadbox" with a shopping mall may prove unsatisfactory anyway. Mr. Sterczewski, meanwhile, said he would continue the topic at a meeting of the parliamentary Infrastructure Committee. He added that

The Commission has a higher rank than our team and at its meeting representatives of PKP and the Ministry will have to appear.

Jakub Głaz

The vote has already been cast