Railway roundabout


Jacek Rostocki, Poland’s Finance Minister at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2009. Mr Rostocki shares Mrs Thatcher’s antipathy to rail, but seems to have been persuaded that Poland would not get its share of the next tranche of EU funding if it did not continue to invest in improvements to its rail network. Photo by World Economic Forum.

(Click image to see original on flickr.com and for details of licensing.)

It has been a crazy fortnight. After having spent some 10 years hiding in a quiet backwater of Poland, my alter ego has suddenly been rediscovered. The consequence are a drastic change of lifestyle. Instead of resting, generally avoiding work and only doing the odd bit of translation when the pile of bills gets too high, I’m suddenly in demand.

An urgent summons to attend the Economic Forum in the mountains near Poland’s border down South is followed by an important business meeting the next day up North on the coast. Rushing up and down the country by train is very pleasant, and results in many adventures which really deserve to be written up on BTWT, but the need to read briefing notes, plan my meetings and generally be prepared, takes away a great deal of time which was previously spent updating the blog. So I would like to apologise to all BTWT’s readers and friends – a big personal “Sorry!” for the break in service that has occurred.

And it is not just my personal life that has been in turmoil: hardly had the e-ink dried from our last post announcing a draconian cut in the infrastructure grant for PKP PLK, when there was a massive reversal of government policy and Andrzej Massel, the Secretary of State for railways, announced that, instead of there being less funds for rail in 2013, there would actually be more!

We are still reading the tea leaves on this about turn, but it does seem that someone very senior in government realised that the next tranche of the EU funds for infrastructure are to have a stronger pro-sustainable transport bias than hitherto, and that if the Polish government wanted its fair share of the EU cake, it would not get away with diverting nearly all its EU infrastructure funding support to building new roads as it had done hitherto.

As if this wasn’t wasn’t enough, for the first time in over 40 years the number of passengers carried by Poland’s railways has actually increased. Of course some of this increase is due to Euro 2012, but a careful reading of the statistics indicates that the increase in passenger carryings has been sustained, even after the championships were finished.

All in all, 2013 heralds to be an exciting year. BTWT intends to be there and we look forward to having you along for the ride.



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