Breathtaking facelift to see barren railway wasteland transformed into stunning urban oasis
A shabby railway embankment in Kraków is in line for a spectacular transformation after a deal was signed to turn it into a striking urban oasis.
Set to start next year, the works envisage the creation of new bicycle and pedestrian routes running below the rail line, a dog park, recreational areas and an educational path detailing the history of Polish rail transport.
Covering 20,000 sq/m – roughly the equivalent of three football pitches – the investment will also see the debut of a ‘sensory garden’ as well as a railway-themed children’s playground, an isolated green zone for rest and relaxation and wall art to break the concrete monotony of the flyover overhead.
Signed between PKP PLK and the city’s greenery authority, the deal will lend a new lease of life to what is currently a muddy, barren patch of land, and will seek to reabsorb it into the social fabric of the city.
Planned following consultations with the public, the project further foresees the establishment of a tangible middle ground between the eastern district of Grzegórzki and the central Stare Miasto.
Traditionally divided by a railway line first constructed in the 19th century, the investment will join the two neighborhoods together in a manner not seen before by creating a welcoming and user-friendly area underneath the existing tracks.
Speaking to the press after the contract was signed, the Minister of Infrastructure, Andrzej Adamczyk, said: “This is a historic moment,” he said, “Kraków is changing.
“On the one hand, we will connect two distinct parts of the city that have been separated by a railway embankment ever since the Crimean War, and on the other, we are enabling the development of this land found underneath the rail flyovers.”
Adamczyk also used the occasion to stress the multi-faceted approach now taken with regards to railway investments.
“They are not just about reducing travel time, increasing comfort or fighting against transport exclusion,” he said. “They can also bring about beneficial changes for residents – in Kraków, the locals will now gain an attractive place in which to spend their free time.”
Leased by the railway authority to the city for a nominal fee, the project has been met with excitement by both locals and environmentalists.
Set to incorporate eco solutions, the local greenery authority, Zarząd Zieleni Miejskiej w Krakowie, has already stated that irrigation systems will be specifically set up to use rainwater to keep the plants nourished.
For years, the land in question has been subject to fierce speculation, not to mention much wrangling between city and state authorities. Reputedly the result of years of negotiations, this project, Adamczyk said, was evidence of what can happen when cities choose to cooperate with the government.
In response, Mayor Jacek Majchrowski joked that the city was “happy to accept any money”, before crediting Adamczyk for his interest in the city.
Distinctly unglamorous, the signing ceremony took place on the patchy land that will ultimately benefit from the facelift – yet despite its current state, its renewal should be rapid.
Seeking to acquire all the necessary permits this year, city authorities are hopeful that work on Phase 1 will start and finish by the end of next year.