"Where are Polish railways heading to?" wonders Jan Raczyński in this issue of "Rynek Kolejowy".
To a catastrophe and a total collapse he replies firmly. "Not only there is nobody to solve for us
all of our infrastructure and transport problems, but there are no blazed trails in this matter as well.
Nor there are ideal patterns for this kind of market. The form of polish Railways' ownership has nothing
to do with effectiveness neither. The French railways which are considered the most modern, hi tech and
best in the world in any way are state owned and none of French presidents, no mater his political option,
is willing to change that. SNCF will remain a part of French national identity. On the other hand it is
quite difficult to imagine huge parts of the German or Swiss rail sector without dozens of small private
or communal owners. In western Europe each household spends as much as a dozen or so percent of its income
on passenger transport" says Mr. Raczyński.
Modern railway demands strong investment. One cannot request a railway in its nineteenth century shape
to compete with highways. It has already been exercised in Western Europe and the US and railways got
unsatisfactory results. Quite an impressive market share covered by Polish Railways is only a reminiscence
from the long gone good days of a state controlled economy. Are there any bright signs for an overexcessive
optimism? "No"- answers Mr. Raczyński. "Developing a modern railway system in Poland requires
a precise vision as precise as the one for the highways net. Not only European railway experts claim that
the highways are the strongest competitors on railway market, not the new operators. Unbalanced transport
policy in an environment of competing different branches of transport make rail companies' and investors'
efforts hopeless and useless".
Stanisław Biega, Jakub Majewski together with Rynek Kolejowy's editorial office sum up the first year
of self governments' exploitation of their light train. Light trains became the basic units to operate
on European regional railway nets in 1990s, when the processes of regionalization of local traffic came
parallel to the mass introduction of third generation of rolling stock. This enabled revitalization of
regional traffic on some of the closed lines and saving it on lines dedicated to be closed. Light rail
was the basis of local rail transport also in some of the Eastern European countries like the Czech-Slovak
Republic, Hungary or East Germany, and thanks to that, after the democratic transformation the economical
necessity of closing many regional lines was not as big as in other countries of the region.
Authors precisely describe and depict all of the main exploitation advantages of light rail in comparison
to the classical rolling stock. The changed "Polish State Railways Act" improved the financial
situation of the regional rail company encouraged Polish rolling stock producers to include light rail
units in their offer. PESA Bydgoszcz joined the existing rolling stock providers, ZNTK Poznań and "Kolzam".
By the end of 2003 voivoidships received in total 5 two part units (all of them manufactured by ZNTK Poznań)
and 6 single part units. There were also 4 purchased by PKP previous generation units. All of the remaining,
older units purchased by PKP are in a disastrous condition and were excluded from exploitation, deprived
of a proper technical supervision and maintenance. Authors also provide a data dable on how the voivoidships
exploit their light rail rolling stock. Authors conclude "One can expect some good and many worse
ideas in the process of introducing new light rail rolling stock. There is also an obstacle of small experience
in the matters of light rail in Polish railways.
The self governments may though perceive their chances in an increased control procedures and precise
description of their needs and demands. They can design all the rules of the rolling stock's exploitation,
daily mileages, lines for which the stock is designated with a thorough cost control. That will result
in measurable advantages of the light rail introduction in forms of improved financial results, better
service and increased local traffic".
Dr Andrzej Massel analyses the passenger traffic in 2003/2004 timetable (pages:). For many years the year
to year the timetable changes have been (and still are) visibly connected to a fundamental remodeling
in the carriage offer. Changes in the transport market seem to be the most probable causes of the high
instability of the timetables. They are first of all connected to the decreasing demand for traditional
ways of transporting passengers (for egz. commuting to large industrial facilities). Financial possibilities
of passenger regional railway and the growing competition from road (also air) carriers are also important.
Advancing degradation of the railway infrastructure causing obligatory limitation in trains speed and
other restrictions are also essential. All of these factors had their impact on the shape of the new timetable
introduced on 14th December 2003. The new timetable introduces a great deal of reductions in the offer
of PKP Intercity. The number of routs serviced by qualified trains as well as the number of connections
on some of the routs were limited. The PKP regional company also reduced its offer dramatically with 14th
December last year. Author provides a thorough characteristics of the new offer including the division
into day trains, night trains, seasonal trains, RegioPlus trains and other passenger regional trains.
Author indicates an bothering drift of limiting the number of services in rest regions outside the summer
period and that the separate carriers offers are not correlated.
Włodzimierz Rydzkowski evaluates the chances of Eastern and Central European railways that appear in connection
to the processes of entering the EU. "Concentrated on the actual problems appearing before our railways
we tend to forget about the broader context of enlarging the European community". Mr. Rydzkowski
provides a close analysis of the A.T. Kearney's report on the development of the railway transport services
market. According to the report the logistic services market (including: transport, dispatching and logistic
companies) grows annually by 14 percent. Its importance will tend to increase powered by its further liberalization,
deregulation and entrance of new subjects. It seems though that the Eastern European companies will not
turn victorious in this processes unless they will take some vital counter-measures. Liberalization will
enable the Western European companies enter the Eastern markets and provide the transport services. A.T.
Kearney's experts claim that the Eastern and Central European companies will not stand unprepared the
direst competition form huge logistic companies form the west like Deutsche Bahn Osterreichische Bundesbahnen.
Their Western competitors have advantages in forms of higher capital possibilities, better services, widely
differentiated offer and easier pass to the key costumers. High percentage of fixed costs (70-80percent,
which are mostly infrastructure and personal costs) may result in such an income loss in that will be
impossible to overcome. Even if we assume a total coverage of cost in freight traffic it will limit Eastern
European railway results in the respected period to 40 percent. And that to most railway companies means
the end of their business. To remain competitive the railway companies must lower their costs dramatically,
and improve their incomes-in other way there will be no other solution but to be overtaken by some of
the huge Western logistic potentates. Some of the railways of our region are aware of these processes
and offer the rail traffic services before the total deregulation for sale. Czech Republic, Hungary and
Poland have signalized their interest in selling parts of rail freight traffic share. According to A.T.
Kearney experts DB is the best potential and most natural buyer.
"I am no politician, I am a railway man" states Mr Tadeusz Augustowski - president of PKP Polish
Railway Lines S.A. Here is an excerpt.
-"Rynek Kolejowy": What should be the relation between the incomes from PLK's business operations
and state subventions and other budget support?
- Tadeusz Augustowski: We'd rather talk about the operational costs. I have many times proposed an solution
based on a scheme of not burdening the access fees by the amortization of fixed assets costs, that we
lease from the state. That is approximately the cost of maintaining the net. That is why we can offer
access tariffs that are approximately 20 percent lower and the state covers the costs of amortization.
That enables us to increase the sources we need to spend on maintenance and improve our offer by decreasing
the number of lines with speed limitations. The operator is also satisfied and so is his client. I still
support this solution
-The operators complain on PLK's tariffs. Are they really that high in Poland?
-We can hardly speak about complaining. We cooperate in one group and we understand each others needs:
the carriers know how we calculate the tariffs and we know how this influences their costs. Polish tariffs
are to high for carriers and to low to cover the net maintenance. That is a disturbing paradox. It is
very difficult to compare our situation with for example Holland where the operator pays the infrastructure
manager 0.3 euro for train-kilometer and the infrastructure manager gets 5.5 because the state is covering
the difference realizing its transport policy.
-In practice the strategic solution of leaving the infrastructure in the hands of the state is inevitable?
- Not only in Poland. Other countries have no choices too. Just look at the British experience. Privatizing
the infrastructure is an expensive and dangerous idea.
-You have recently said that if we continue to overhaul the tracks in the pace we do now, we'll finish
with the last junction in 300 years. Can that change?
- Lets treat my words as a grim joke, that follows the mathematical comparison of the number of rail junctions
and our investment possibilities. We don't have to exchange all the junctions, but some of them have to
be liquidated , so there is still a bit of truth in my words.