Finance Minister cuts rail support by 50%

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Lift door at Krakow Glowny station on 4.9.2012. In spite of a rebuilding programme which started nearly 40 yeas ago, and received a recent 130 million PLN (approx. 26 million GBP) EU-assisted boost, the lifts only go up to the car park and not down to the passenger concourse and the new tram station. There are no escalators.

(Click image to enlarge.)

On Monday 1 September the news was released through the usual unattributed channels that the Ministry of Finance was planning to cut support for Poland’s railway infrastructure by 500 million zloty (approx. 125 million Euro).

This year the support received by PKP PLK (Poland’s railway infrastructure administrator) was 1.3 billion złoty so the cut – when adjusted for inflation – represents a claw back by the Ministry of nearly 50%.

BTWT’s own unattributable channels report that the bosses of Poland’s largest railway operators (outside the PKP Group) are furious. They believe that the cutbacks will be reflected in hikes in track access charges which are already the highest in Europe. BTWT sources indicate that the Finance Ministry’s Plan ‘B’ – if the plans generate sufficient opposition – will be, after some time, to announce that after ‘consultation’ the cut will only be some 300 million PLN, that being its minimum internal target cut all along.

Mitigated or not, there can be no doubt that the cuts will damage Poland’s economic growth and generate extra car journeys that will jam up and pollute Poland’s car-priority cities.

One can only hope that the cuts will end the ‘white gloves’ treatment that PKP PLK receives from the Ministry and that there will be a concentrated economy drive within the company to reduce waste. At the moment infrastructure work commissioned by PKP PLK cuts upto 100% more than the EU average.

It is also high time that transport minister, Slawomir Nowak, cut back on political vanity projects like the infamous underground station in Lodz and reinvested the money saved on desperately needed infrastructure repairs.

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