Everyone who travels by train in Poland has the same negative opinions about comfort and punctuality. Somebody has calculated that during one year all the trains in Poland were late a total of almost three years.
Many passengers hope that private companies will break the PKP monopoly and as a consequence we will travel faster and much more comfortably.
The Law on Railway Transport, enacted in 1997, has opened the railway network to competition from domestic and international operators. Before 1997, PKP (Polish National Railways) was by law the country’s only rail operation.
In 2001, PKP was restructured and divided into several dozen companies to meet EU guidelines.
Polish State Railways remained the dominant member of PKP Group, with further privatization planned. Polish State Railways, a joint stock company, manages about 3,200 train stations throughout the country.
A few years later, the first private carriers appeared. In 2007 in the Pomeranian district, the British-Polish company Arriva PCC began operating, the first privately owned railway in Poland. Passengers hope the new company will be both cheaper than Polish State Railways and have a better on-time performance. Arriva PCC is a partnership of Britain’s Arriva and Poland’s PCC.
Private carriers actually have about 20 percent of the Polish railway market.
However, PKP Cargo, a member of Polish State Railways, doesn’t want to lose its privileged position.
For example, according to the daily newspaper Rzeczpospolita, PKP Cargo last year refused to allow Kia Motors Corporation to use CTL Logistics S.A. to transport car tools to Russia.
PKP sent Russia a letter stating that according to an international contract only national railways can transport materials abroad.
After Polish- Russian negotiations, a new contract was reached in which private carriers will be included. Finally, Kia signed the contract with PKP.
To improve the situation on Polish railways, government experts have written a document, “Strategy for railway transport in Poland by the year 2013,” which includes the possibility of creating five transport companies.
Many experts think that with the financial help of the EU, Poland can enjoy international carriers with great capacity. However, an increase in capital expenditures will be required. Rzeczpospolita says that annual rail spending may increase from 6.7 mln euro to 11 mln euro by 2015.
Rail passengers are hoping for better days ahead.
“I prefer to travel by train rather than by bus because it’s cheaper,” said Anna Jadrasik, a student from Katowice. “Although often trains aren’t on time, I hope that in the future it will change and we will have railway communications as good as in France or England.”