Warsaw’s national stadium is on the brink of completion after an eye watering investment of half of billion euros.
In just six months time, the venue will host the opening game of Euro 2012, where Poland meets Greece.
Daria Kulinska of the National Sports Centre said: “This is one of the most modern stadiums in Europe. Our colleagues from UEFA call it ‘The Big Baby’. It’s our guests’ favourite stadium.”
Euro 2012 will be the biggest ever sports event organised in Poland and it is not just football fans who are getting excited. With Christmas fast approaching, tournament memorabilia is high on everyone’s list.
Poland’s infrastructure has come on leaps and bounds since it was chosen to co-host the tournament in 2007. But it has been a race against time from the off. Billions of euros have been spent as a result of joint investments from the government and European funds and undertaking the challenge has been no mean feat for organisers.
Marcin Herra, CEO of PL. 2012 told euronews about their ever growing workload: “We’ve had more than 200 infrastructure projects on top of 300 different schemes and over 22,000 assignments.”
Although preparations are well under way, there is still a lot to do transport wise.
A key concern is Poland’s lack of high speed railway lines and due to maintenance neglect, the top speed of its older trains is often under 100 kilometres per hour. Modernising the network is now crucial and once again, time is of the essence.
Euronews reporter Jakub Loska asked tourists what they thought about Polish train travel.
A German traveller said: “The train was on time which was nice. Besides that it was just a regular train journey from Berlin to Warsaw.”
A Russian woman complained: “There’s no timetable anywhere so we had to go and look for it. There’s no information about platforms so you don’t even know where your train will arrive.”
While a third passenger just shuddered when describing the toilets.
So it would seem there is still room for improvement, not only for the railways but also for the roads.
Five years ago the Polish government promised to build around a 1,000 kilometres of new highways and over 2,000 kilometres of motorways.
Bureaucracy and the global economic crisis however, have both played a part in halting progress.
Michal Pol, a journalist with the website Sport.pl, explained how transport infrastructure was in dire need of improvement, but it didn’t happen: “When UEFA gave us Euro 2012, everybody thought it would be a kind of ‘Marshall plan’ like the one that western European countries had after World War II. Everybody thought there would be lots of new highways and high speed railways, but today, for example, it takes longer to go by train from Warsaw to Vrotslav than it did before World War II.”
On the plus side, knowing the best way to get about will be easier thanks to a new, multimedia app. The smart phone device will enable visitors to plan their journey in just a few easy clicks.
Marcin Herra, CEO of PL.2012 is proud of the new transport system: “Everyone, whether they’re from Barcelona, Naples or Milan will be able to organise their journey in Poland with ease and buy their travel tickets for a very reasonable price.”
Sports journalist Michal Pol, summed up: “If football supporters come here by plane, they will have no problem getting to the cities, which are truly beautiful. They also won’t have a problem finding a place to sleep because there are plenty of hotels and they will be able to watch the matches in truly unique and beautiful stadiums.”
There is no denying, Poland have achieved a lot in three years thanks to their round-the-clock efforts and the results will be for all to see in June.