If there is one striking aspect of the upcoming Euro 2012 football tournament, it is the enormous distances that separate the match venues.
So to keep the fans moving, authorities have been concentrating on planes, trains and automobiles.
In Ukraine an army of fans arriving from all over Europe will be faced with more time travelling than on the terraces. It is no wonder then, that UEFA expressed concern that Ukraine’s creaking transport system would be able to cope.
The country’s Minister for Infrastructure, Borys Kolesnikov told euronews: “UEFA told us from the start that aviation would be the main form of transport for Euro 2012. It’s obvious when you think of the distances inside our country and from Ukraine to western European countries.
We have prepared four new international airports: in Kyiv, Donetsk, Kharkiv and Lviv. They are almost finished, and now personnel are being trained.
And from May 15 to July 15 we’ll open our skies, so any international airline can ask to fly to Ukraine without any restrictions related to international agreements.”
The Minister said Ukraine is in talks with one of the largest European lowcost airlines which is planning to start flying to Lviv and Donetsk.
The budget carriers are not expected in the main international airport.
Borispil in Kyiv is, though, home to the country’s first fully-fledged transfer terminal, with another almost ready, helping to handle 15-million passengers a year.
It might appear far from finished but the airport director is certain that everything will be in place by the end of March ready to receive first passengers.
Anton Volov explained: “This terminal D – the largest in the country – is equipped with modern systems that Ukrainian airports have never had before, such as fully automatic baggage system with five-level access control, eleven air-bridges, laser docking system and much more.”
They have also set about updating the old Soviet-era railway network. The first batch of much faster and more comfortable trains have arrived from South Korea, capable of slashing some journey times in half.
Leonid Loboyko, the Deputy Director General of ‘UkrRailways’ told us: “According to the contract we will get six Korean trains with nine carriages before Euro 2012. We’ve also ordered two double-decker trains from Skoda in the Czech Republic,
and on top of that, our own manufacturers – “Kriukov Coach Building Works” – have also produced a new train with nine carriages.”
Overseas visitors can always experience some authentic local flavour by travelling on the Soviet-era trains that still make up the vast majority of Ukraine Railways rolling stock.
Those wanting to get know the country really intimately can take a chance and travel by car. And although roads pose the biggest transport infrastructure headache in Ukraine authorities claim the real picture is far from the one portrayed in sceptical European media, like The Sun in London.
Markiyan Lubkivskyi, director of the Ukrainian organizing committee told euronews: “We couldn’t build motorways in such a short time. That was mission impossible. But I promise we won’t be ashamed of the roads that link Euro 2012 venues and those in the cities themselves.”
After reaching their destination fans with tickets can use public transport free of charge.
Lubkivskyi explained: “This ‘Free Transport Initiative’ is not new for UEFA. It has been implemented in the past. All ticket holders will be able to use public transport in host cities for 24 hours the day of their game, plus 12 hours afterwards free of charge.”
Authorities are hoping the Euro 2012 planes, trains and automobiles will help to give football fans a more positive view of the country than the one they are perhaps used to seeing on the news.
More about: Football, Road to Euro 2012, Transport, UEFA Euro 2012, Ukraine
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