Traditional Polish bar car interior – curtains drawn, standing room only and no beer! Photo WARS.
Yesterday the Sejm, the lower chamber of the Polish Parliament, threw out a draft statute which would have allowed alcohol to be served in trains and station restaurants. 91 MPs voted in favour of the new law, but 327 voted against. During the debate Deputy Health Minister, Marek Haber, explained that the proposed law did not have government support.
Nothing demonstrates better the power of Poland’s road and oil lobbies as the uneven treatment of drink sales as between road and rail. Nearly all Polish petrol station shops sell alcoholic drinks as do tens of thousands of roadside bars and restaurants. In spite of record numbers of accidents involving drunk drivers, car drivers are considered responsible adults when it comes to consuming alcohol. No MP would dare support a law that would ban the sale of alcohol within a 100 metre boundary from the roadside. If they tried they would soon be getting a call from their sponsors.
Yet all train passengers are considered to be desperate alcoholics incapable of moderating their consumption. Not only are we banned from buying a bottle of beer or glass of wine in trains, but when we need a drink in a railway station we find conditions reminiscent of the Prohibition. Deprived from the considerable revenue that drink sales bring (see First Great Western’s Pullman Drinks Menu) catering facilities in Poland’s trains and stations remain second rate.
In spite of the rejection of the new law, alcohol will presumably still be available on Poland’s international trains as well as from the many dodgy dealers that walk train corridors calling out Piwo Zimne, piwo zimne! during longer station stops.