Rumours from behind the water tower.



Beware the timetable does not include the changes to PKP InterCity trains – notice displayed at Kutno station. Photo Marcin Ciesielski via

I’m in the UK for a few weeks. Such a change of perspective gives me a clearer view of the Polish railway scene. The first thing that strikes a visitor is the indecent prices charged by UK train operating companies (TOCs), although the fault lies not so much with the TOCs, but in the design of the so-called ‘franchising¬† system’ and an examination of that will appear in due course on Tunnel Vision. However multi TOC ticket validity is something that the UK can be really proud of and an inter-operator ticketing accord is something that should be introduced as soon as possible in Poland. During a journey from Banbury to Windsor with a single off peak ticket I was delighted to discover that I was able to hop on and off local and high speed trains belonging to three different railway companies. The lack of any such cooperation in Poland – and the subsequent double charging – is the complaint that I hear most frequently from fellow passengers.

Shortly afterwards a journalist from Warsaw phoned – could I comment on PKP InterCity’s new promotions? I suppose I should have been honest and told him that I had been busy working on a tender bid for a EU-funded railway tourism project and that I had not studied the deals being offered this summer. However, such a course of action would have deprived me of the chance to tell him what I generally thought of PKP InterCity. So instead of making my apologies, I told him that PKP IC senior management do not listen to the views of their staff or their customers. I explained that without an internal company culture, which includes a viable feedback mechanism, a company’s marketing efforts are doomed to failure. We also talked about the difficulty of buying a railway ticket in Poland, the fact that PKP InterCity was only going through the motions of being Internet savvy, PKP IC’s disastrous customer communications strategy and the serious damage that the lack of a ticketing accord was doing to the passenger rail market in Poland. We talked for about half an hour and he seemed well pleased with the result of our conversation.

Shortly afterwards it was my turn to place a call – to a railway consulting company in Warsaw with whom we are jointly bidding for the EU contract – Are you from Arup? asks the boss’s secretary. No madam I’m not from Arup. Now what would Arup be doing in Poland, feasibility study for Poland’s proposed high speed railway, perhaps?


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