Paper trail or public consultation?


The Ministry of Infrastructure consultation document

(Click image above to go to the Ministry of Infrastructure web page from which the Polish pdf file may be downloaded.)

Yesterday (11.08.2010) the Ministry of Infrastructure published a consultation document entitled Konsultacje społeczne – Program działan dla transportu kolejowego do roku 2015 (Public consultation – programme of activities for railway transport until the year 2015).

The document is, I suspect, the Ministry’s response to the criticisms recent report by the Najwysza Izba Kontrolli (Public Audit Office) which castigated not only the PKP group, but also the Ministry, for mismanaging Poland’s railways. While, I am sure that the document contains many reassuring words about increasing the role played by rail in Poland’s transport mix, I fear that it may be less expansive on how such a thing is to be achieved.

Here are the key questions that should be asked when evaluating the document:

  1. Does it reveal any commitment by the government to get road haulage companies to pay a greater contribution to the maintenance of the road infrastructure?
  2. Is there any undertaking to reduce Poland’s high rail track access charges to levels more commensurate to those which obtain in other EU countries?
  3. Is there any provision to increase the funding available to maintain and improve Poland’s collapsing railway infrastructure?
  4. Is there any intention to facilitate the transfer of unwanted branch lines to local authorities or other operators who are willing to maintain them for railway transport?
  5. Is there any plan to improve the management of Poland’s railway companies?
  6. Is there any recognition that excessive fragmentation of Poland’s railways has increased costs?

I suspect that the answer will be “no” to each of these questions, but I look forward to reading the document myself and being pleasant surprised. I would encourage readers who wish to read the document, but who may not be fluent in Polish, to extract the text from the pdf file using Adobe Reader and then translate it in sections using Google Translate. (I am investigating whether there may be an easier method.)


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