Note: the texts under all the headings, with the exception of 'Results achieved', describe the situation before the start of the project.
Modernisation of railway border crossing in the Podlaskie voivodeship (Siemianówka)
Poland has one of the longest Schengen external borders of the EU, measuring nearly 1200 kilometres. An efficient, functional eastern Schengen border is not only important for Poland and the EU, but also for Switzerland’s security. That is why, as part of the enlargement contribution, Switzerland is investing in modern infrastructure that facilitates well functioning customs clearance at strategically important border crossings on the Polish-Belarusian border. In this case, the upgrade of the infrastructure of railway border crossing in Siemianowka allows Poland to comply with EU standards in the field of border management and security.
Enhanced security and safety
- Efficiency of border clearance has improved and traffic on the reconstructed railway border crossing has been increased: an average train clearance time in Siemianówka decreased from 2.5 hrs to 2hrs with a increased number of wagons passing the border from 31'815 to 33’327
- Working conditions of border services officers were improved through construction of modern buildings and provision of equipment
- The project triggered economic and social development in the region
- 4 buildings for border control constructed
- 2 videoendoscopes and 1 smuggling detector used for control
- 2 study visits, one in Switzerland and one in Poland with participation of a Swiss Customs experts realized
- National State Institute North
The actual border infrastructure in Siemianówka does not allow to the border guards and the custom services to fulfil their duties properly. The extremely poor conditions, in which the around 60 employees of both entities are working are below all standards of the European Union and do not respect the national legislation on Occupational Health and Safety. Although the crossing point is very big, with many tracks and 5 platforms of 1 km length each, the basic facilities for receiving trucks, charging and removing goods, etc. do not exist or need to be renovated. The main transport companies reduced their activities in Siemianówka, mainly due to the degradation of the installations.
The project aims at contributing to the EU border protection. It will consistently increase the security, improve the functioning of the border crossing point for freight traffic and shorten the train sets’ clearance time. The border guards and the Custom services will be in the position to properly carry out their duties in line with the national and the EU standards. The project will allow Poland to comply with the EU/Schengen requirements concerning border security and border management. As well, the project will promote the economic potential and induce business activities in the region.
Border guards corps and customs service active at the railway border crossing in Siemianówka; Inhabitants of the region and of the Schengen area.
The project finances the construction of a new train border crossing in Siemianówka, adjusting it to the national and EU-norms and regulations ant at the same time improving the working conditions for the officers and civil workers of border guards and customs officers. Concretely new enclosed structures include a building of the border guard facilities, custom chamber facilities, access facilities and road infrastructure and phytosanitary service building.
|Directorate/federal office responsible||
Swiss Contribution to the enlarged EU
Foreign state institution
|Budget||Current phase Swiss budget CHF 4’992’638 Swiss disbursement to date CHF 4’366’597|
Phase 1 01.08.2011 - 31.12.2014 (Completed)
The two Polish border crossings of Siemianówka and Połowce are being renovated and upgraded with Swiss support to ensure that they reach Schengen standards. At the same time, Switzerland wants to step up its exchange of expertise and experience with Polish customs authorities. Today, the two borders crossings meet neither EU standards nor Polish legal requirements. The infrastructure is outdated and in need of renovation: modern installations are lacking and equipment doesn’t meet current needs. Personnel are negatively affected by these conditions and struggle to carry out their tasks given the growing cross-border traffic.
Border crossings of Siemianówka and Połowce
In the strategically important border railway station of Siemianówka, the buildings, loading ramps and access roads are outdated and in need of renovation. Facilities for food and border veterinary inspections are lacking entirely. The same is the case in the customs office in Połowce, which is currently only open to Polish and Belarusian nationals and does not handle customs clearance for international goods. A well-functioning customs clearance and border control in Połowce reduces the burden on other border crossings in the region. Because of long waiting times, more and more transport companies are accepting long detours to other border crossings, leading to undesireable additional traffic through villages.
Securing the Schengen external border and regional economic development
Another goal of efficient and well-functioning border control and customs clearance in Siemianówka and Połowce is to combat the smuggling of people and goods. Poland hopes that the upgrading of the two border crossings will revitalise the regional economy, create new jobs in this structurally underdeveloped region, and increase local border traffic for cultural exchanges with Belarus.
Concrete investment in infrastructure and Swiss expertise for Podlaskie
In Połowce, the Swiss contribution is enabling the construction of terminal facilities for trucks, and for border controls for persons, as well as the construction of a roof for the border post, and the provision of modern infrastructure for administrative and operational buildings. In addition to administrative and operational buildings, a storage room for confiscated goods, facilities for food and border veterinary inspections, external fencing and an electronic monitoring system are being built in the border railway station of Siemianówka.
Besides the investment in infrastructure, Switzerland is also supporting border control and customs clearance activities in Podlaskie Voivodeship. The focus is on the transfer of knowledge and exchange of experience.