End of cheap long-distance trains in Poland?

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przewozy_reg_logo

The Przewozy Regionalne logo will go. Photo Tomek

(The photograph above is taken from the Palenie zabija, a rower nie (Smoking will kill you, but your bike won’t) blog. Click to see the photo in its original context and more PKP pictures.)

Poland’s inexpensive long distance operator, PKP Przewozy Regionalne, is to lose its long distance trains from 1st January 2009. Currently, if you want to travel by rail across Poland, you have a choice of operator: PKP Intercity and PKP Przewozy Regionalne. PKP Intercity operates trains under four different brands:

  • EuroCity (very expensive, international)
  • InterCity (expensive, fastest long distance)
  • Ekspres (expensive, fast long distance)
  • Tanie Linie Kolejowe (cheaper, not so fast, long distance)

All trains operated by PKP Intercity have compulsory seat reservations, and the first three categories of train are considerably more expensive, than the PKP Przewozy Regionalny trains. With the most prestigious (and most profitable) trains creamed off into PKP InterCity, PKP Przewozy Regionalne was left operating the trains that nobody really wanted:

  • Osobowe (cheapest, local, stopping)
  • Pospieszne (good value, long distance, fast and semi-fast)

The Osobowe trains are the cheapest way to travel by train in Poland, the Pospieszne are a little more expensive, but still excellent value, and much more comfortable. They take forever and a day winding across Poland connecting exotic locations such as Szczecin and Rzeszow.

Now the Przewozy Regionalne business is to be split in two. Those trains that run within one province, like the Wolsztyn-Poznan trains, will stay in Przewozy Regionalne. Those that run across provincial boundaries, like Lodz-Wroclaw, will go to a new operating company to be set up by PKP InterCity. Przewozy Regionalne itself is to be removed from the PKP Group of companies and administered by the local authorities.

What this will mean for passengers is not clear, but PKP watchers fear the worst. In the short term PKP InterCity has promised that season tickets bought before 1 January 2009 for PKP trains will be valid on the same trains after 1 January. It’s also announced that it’s not introducing any price hikes and that Pospieszne trains will not be bound by its compulsory seat reservation policy. But its also apparent that rail travel will become less flexible with Pospieszny tickets no longer being valid on Osobowy trains and Osobowy tickets no longer being upgradable to Pospieszny.

Long term, the prognosis for rail passengers is not good. What will happen to the inter-province stopping trains such as the Lokalny train from Lodz to Poznan? It doesn’t really fit in with the rest of PKP InterCity’s portfolio? But the train is well patronised and, using a more direct route, it takes about the same time to reach Poznan as the alternative of travelling by Pospieszny to Kutno and then EuroCity on to Poznan, for one quarter of the latter’s price! Once the dust of the transfer has settled, will PKP InterCity with its eyes on privatisation, want continue to run the long distance Pospieszny trains that run nearly empty across Poland mid-week, but are stuffed to bursting point on Friday’s and Sunday evenings?

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One Response to “End of cheap long-distance trains in Poland?”

  1. Macowiec Says:

    “But its also apparent that rail travel will become less flexible with Pospieszny tickets no longer being valid on Osobowy trains and Osobowy tickets no longer being upgradable to Pospieszny.”

    But keep in mind, that now you can combine, a journey using a Pospieszny train and then an Express. This will bring down the price for such long distance travel. For example, to travel from Torun to Krakow before required 2 tickets (PR-posp and IC-expr.), cost=128PLN. Under the new tariff, with one IC ticket: 95PLN.

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