The Ministry of Infrastructure has received consent from Chinese partners to reformat the Air Express project

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UKRAINE: The Ministry of Infrastructure has presented a proposal to reformat the Air Express project to connect Kiev city centre and the Boryspil airport by rail to its Chinese partners.

The project has originally received a loan from China’s government in September 2010. The loan was part of the statement from the President's office where China has made commitments to invest more than 4 billion US dollars in infrastructure projects in Ukraine, many related to preparations for the Euro 2012 Football Championship.

The construction of the railway line came in the framework of a previously signed agreement between China National Machinery Industry Complete Engineering Corporation (CMCEC) and the authorities of Kyiv-Boryspil airport. Among other Chinese investors are China Road Bridge Corporation and China Eximbank.

At the meeting last week the Minister of Infrastructure Andriy Pivovarsky explained that the need to reformat the project arose due to the radical changes in the geopolitical and economic situation in Ukraine.

“The question now is to maximise the efficient use of available resources. When the Air Express project first was planned, the Boryspil Airport was actively developing and Kiev rapidly growing, which was enough to justify the need for Air Express. However, the project in its original form would be unfeasible today. So the choice now is to either return the funds to the Chinese partners or to rethink the whole project emphasizing different points.”

Chairman of the Board of the Ukrzaliznytsia said that given the social importance and the need to develop transport links between the airport and the capital, it is better to go ahead with the “light version” of the Air Express project.

“The construction circuit should be much simplified. If we reduce terms and costs we should be able to free up some funds for electrification of railway sections in Eastern Ukraine, which would bring traffic to the airport.”

Chairman of China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC) Sun Bai said that the Chinese side understands the reasons for reformatting the project and therefore the corporation is ready to support those proposed changes. But the final decision will have to come from China’s government, since it made the original decision to allocate the funding.

According to him, the project will progress in the next two steps, first – a detailed study of a new project will need to be produced and discussed by experts of both countries so new technical documentation, amended budget and construction plans can be created. Secondly – the project will be presented and justified to the Chinese government.

The Air Express project involves the construction of a passenger rail link between Kyiv and Boryspil International Airport and the related construction of other infrastructure objects in Kyiv region. Since June 2015, the project has been under the management of the Ministry of Infrastructure.