PKP says ‘Sorry’…


but as MPs call for Minister’s resignation will it be enough?

The PKP ‘apology’, a whole page ad, appeared in Thursday’s national papers – Rzeczpospolita, Gazeta Wyborcza and Super Express.

(Click image to enlarge. For translation see below.)

[PKP logo]

The PKP Group Companies


for travel difficulties
and problems with the transmission of information

The unfortunate travel experiences which passengers have experienced in the last few days require our explanation. Discussions regarding the shape of the new timetable dragged on into early December. This was unprecedented. PKP Group companies also took part in these discussions. This created an information buzz and the accompanying winter aura as well as the rebuilding of lines and stations cumulatively impacted upon the late running of the trains.

We are aware that even the loudest utterance of the word SORRY will be no compensation for the stress and difficulties currently affecting rail travel. The experiences of the last weeks demonstrated to us, railwaymen, how much remains to be done to satisfy our CLIENTS.

We hope that in spite of recent bad experiences, you will choose rail to travel to your nearest and dearest for the celebration of Christmas. We also wish that the time you spend travelling by rail will be a welcome respite before your family gathering.

With apologies
The Railway Workers of the PKP Group

[translation ©BTWT]

Poland being a Catholic country, one might expect that PKP’s ‘unprecedented’ whole page ‘confessions’ that appeared yesterday in the national press about the on-going nightmare on Poland’s railways might evoke a sympathetic response from PKP’s long-suffering passengers. I expect, however, that their appearance will only pour petrol upon the bonfire of whatever tattered remnants remained of PKP’s reputation. In spite of the flowery language – ‘information buzz’ and ‘winter aura’ – there is little sign of a ‘firm purpose of amendment’  – the condition that the Church requires to be fulfilled before it grants absolution to those who have confessed their sins.

For a start there is no promise that PKP will try harder next time. Secondly, there is no attempt to offer any kind of compensation to passengers. A much more convincing gesture would have been to offer passengers some kind of travel promotion (say, buy one ticket and get one free) which would have generated media attention AND made passengers feel a little better. Finally, the apology is not signed by Andrzej Wach, the chairman of the PKP Group. Instead it is signed off ‘the Railway Workers of the PKP Group’; while this is in keeping with communist era notions of ‘group responsibility’, ( i.e. no one is responsible).

It is hardly the fault of the railway workers that neither PKP InterCity, nor Przewozy Regionalne, knew how much money they would have to fund their 2011 operations. A situation which makes it difficult to make a rational decision as to how many trains to run. Nor is it the fault of the railway workers that PKP has been broken up into so many parts (a separate company is responsible for the on-line timetable) that no one knows whether they are coming or going, or that the electricity supply to the point heaters has been turned off.

Both the botched transfer of Przewozy Regionalne to the provincial governments, and the hopeless fragmentation of PKP, are the result of political decisions signed off – or at least allowed to rest unchallenged – by the Ministry of Infrastructure. In a civilised country the responsible Minister, Cezary Grabarczyc would resign; indeed there have already been calls in the Sejm (the Polish equivalent to the House of Commons) for him to do so. But Grabarczyc is a close allay of the prime minister, Donald Tusk, and Tusk has already announced that he and Grabarczyc will ensure that those responsible for the chaos will be punished.

Grabarczyk, who would appear to be safe for the time being, has responded by cancelling the end-of-year bonuses of PKP Group chairman, Andrzej Wach; Grzegorz Mędza, chairman of PKP InterCity; and Zbigniew Szafranski, chairman of infrastructure company, PKP Polskie Linie Kolejowe, and their deputies. However, it is understood that for a variety of reasons these bonuses were not going to be paid anyway, so cancelling them is an empty gesture. On Thursday, Julius Engelhardt, the Undersecretary of State responsible for rail, appeared before MPs to explain what had happened. He made a poor showing. It is widely expected that if the chaos and accompanying parliamentary row continues then Wach, and possibly even Engelhardt himself, will be dismissed. Already, PKP main board member, Jacek Przesluga, who has publicly called for a complete ‘re-engineering’ of PKP, seems to have his eye on the Group chairman’s job.


2 Responses to “PKP says ‘Sorry’…”

  1. Trevor Says:

    Hmm, ugly looking ad.

    “PKP hereby announces an apology…”

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