Archive for the ‘PKP PLK’ Category

Wolsztyn Shed – Wielkopolska Vote “Yes”

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

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OL49-69 ready to depart with Woltur train, Wolsztyn. Photo William Wright.

(Click on images to see larger photos.)

Further to our report (BTWT, 1 July 2015) that representatives of all the parties (Wielkopolska Provincial Government, Wolsztyn District Council, Wolsztyn Town Council and PKP Cargo) had agreed in principle to proceed on the basis of a revised business plan, the council members of the various local authorities have been debating and voting on the proposals to set a new institute to run the shed. Each of the parties will be making a contribution to the setting up and operation of the shed (PKP Cargo – locomotives, rolling stock and facilities; others – start up capital and an ongoing financial contribution towards operating expenses) and participating in its strategic management.

Wolsztyn District Council (Starostwo Wolsztyńskie) have already voted in favour of the proposals and yesterday a critical milestone was passed when the Council of the Wielkopolska Provincial Government (Sejmik Wielkopolski) also passed a vote in favour. The Wielkopolska councillors’ vote was critical because the business plan envisages the provincial government being the principal funding source for the restoration and running of daily steam services.

The last council vote needed to secure the plan is that of the members of Wolsztyn Town Council, but with the town’s hospitality industry badly feeling the drop in tourism since the cessation of daily steam services, it is envisaged that Wolsztyn Mayor, Wojtek Lis, will have little difficulty in securing the support of the town’s councillors. The Town Council will consider the question during their meeting on August 3. If they vote in favour, the last piece of the jigsaw falls into place. There will be a formal signing ceremony sometime later, and December 1, 2016 is already pencilled in as the first day that the shed opens its doors under the auspices of its new owners.

The elephant in the room remains Poland’s railway infrastructure manager, PKP PLK. For reason best known to itself, PKP PLK insists on treating steam trains as if they were carrying out of gauge loads or nuclear waste. Whereas in other countries, steam trains are regarded as bringing useful publicity to the railway and their operators enjoy access to the railway network on the same (or even preferential) terms as those of other trains, in Poland PKP PLK demands a premium rate. As a result it is almost impossible to fill a steam train in Poland unless somebody – usually a local authority – picks up some of the bill.

With so many bodies pulling together to safeguard the future of Poland’s steam heritage at Wolsztyn would it not be appropriate for PKP PLK to also put a shoulder to the wheel?

Dyspozytor

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PKP PLK takes over train information

Monday, 16 December 2013

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Timetable change at Lodz Kaliska on 19.09.2013. Photo BTWT.

(All images can be clicked to enlarge.)

At midnight on Saturday 14 December, a new railway timetable was introduced. PKP IC are to run fewer trains than last year. Inter City will run 326 trains on the national railway network (355 – 2012/3) and 40 international trains running across the Polish border (52 – 2012/3).

PKP PLK, the company responsible for Poland’s railway infrastructure, will take overall responsibility for the quality of information provided to passengers at all of Poland’s railway stations with the exception of the Warsaw main line stations: Warszawa Zachodnia, Warszawa Centralna and Warszawa Wschodnia.

There will be standards for the way train services are announced as well as the information that is shown on the various display systems. There will quality inspectors to ensure that the standards are met, service level agreements and fines for those responsible for not achieving them.

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Information is inconsistent and incomplete. Photo BTWT.

It is difficult to avoid the impression that PKP bosses are creating yet another management team to solve a problem that would just melt away after the application of a little customer feedback, analysis and common sense. The problem is not that one station announcer says, The train at platform 3, track 5, is for Lodz Kaliska, calling at Zyradow, Skierniewice and Koluszki, and another says, The train for Lodz Kaliska, calling at Zyradow, Skierniewice and Koluszki, is at platform 3, track 5; the problem is that in both cases the information is incomplete.

First of all, it would be helpful – as I hurtle through the station wondering if I have time to reach the platform or would my time be better invested by buying a ticket for the next train – to have the departure time confirmed. In the UK the station announcer informs us, The train at platform 3 is the 16:16hrs for Lodz Kaliska… . Why not also announce the departure time in Poland?

Secondly, the list of calling stations has stations missing. The train also calls at the Lodz main stations: Lodz Widzew and Lodz Chojny, but you will not obtain this information from the printed timetables displayed at Centralna or any of the electronic train departure indicators.

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Heath warning on the PKP PLK passenger information portal.

The printed timetable displayed at stations is a plakat relacyjny which shows the train times and departure details, but not all the calling stations. So if you do not have access to the on-line timetable, or are not Internet-savvy it would seem that PKP wants you to go by bus.

Assuming that you have found the right destination, train and platform – all is well until things go wrong. There is then a dearth of information, and station staff and train crew seem to melt into thin air. A pertinent tale about the 18:46 from Warszawa Srodmiescie to Piaseczno was recently published on the W-wa Jeziorki blog. I wonder just how many people in PKP Informatyka are working on smart travel information systems?

Source:

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Pyskowice – some good news at last!

Sunday, 15 December 2013

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The pride of the fleet, restored Ty42-24 steam test, 18.6.2013.
Photo Marek Ciesielski

On Monday 9 December the District Court in Katowice threw out the case brought by PKP SA against TOZKiOS, the railway society that is responsible for the Pyskowice railway museum. PKP SA were claiming that the society owed several tens of thousands of zloty in unpaid rent and were seeking a court order requiring the society to pay the back rent – or have its assets seized – and forcing TOZKiOS to quit the site.

The court found that the society had a perfectly valid agreement with infrastructure company PKP PLK and that it had kept its rental payments up to date. Of course, the court order does not provide TOZKiOS what the society most needs – security of tenure and access to the old roundhouse area of the  site, but it does buy time.

It is to be hoped that it may be possible to persuade both parties that the way forward is the path of conciliation and not litigation and that through constructive dialogue a solution can be found that represents a ‘win-win’ for both sides.

Waiting for some TLC, the Pyskowice engine shed. Photo BTWT.

For many years TOZKiOS has been prevented from accessing the old roundhouse site. Without an effective guardian, the engine shed has been deteriorating fast. Several years ago accumulated snow led to a roof collapse.

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Smashed down and stolen door. Photo TOZKiOS.

TOZKiOS have tried to keep the old shed area secure, but a week ago scrap thieves smashed down an old door and are now helping themselves to the metal contents inside the shed.

PKP boss launches clean up campaign

Friday, 13 December 2013

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Former PKP Cargo Chairman, Lukasz Boron. Photo PKP Cargo.

Shortly after sacking PKP Cargo boss, Lukasz Boron, PKP SA Chairman, Jakob Karnowski, launched a drive to introduce a code of ethics across the whole of the PKP Group.

Each PKP subsidiary is to have its own code of practice and a person responsible for making sure that it is implemented. A senior project manager, reporting direct to Karnowski, will oversee the whole process.

‘Spanish customs’ were once common in PKP. It was not unknown for regional heads in the infrastructure company, PKP PLK, to run their own track maintenance companies employing PKP PLK staff and bidding for PKP PLK contracts.

Conflicts of interest were rife. Some PKP Cargo bosses had shares in Cargosped, a logistics company that bid for freight haulage contracts in competition with PKP Cargo.

Industry sources claim that the wagon standing time scam is still common. PKP Cargo customers are charged for the amount of time wagons are left in sidings waiting to be unloaded, certain Cargo officials are happy – in return for a small consideration – to book a lower amount of standing time.

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Łódź Fabryczna – white elephant?

Saturday, 2 November 2013

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Lodz Fabryczna construction site, summer 2013. Photo by Zorro2212.

(Click picture to see original photo on Wikipedia Commons.)

Behind The Water Tower has been ‘down’ for much longer than usual. I have not been well – nothing terribly alarming, rather a combination of ‘wear and tear’ and an old back problem has taken its toll, and much of my ‘get up and go’ seems to have got up and gone. I have decided on a few simple steps which should at least improve the frequency of postings, if not their quality.

BTWT readers may remember my dislike of the new Lodz Fabryczna project. Currently, the centre of Lodz is cut off for visitors by train and there is no firm date in sight for when the rail link will be restored. Lodzians commuting to Warsaw or further afield are better off – they simply park at one of the many stations on Lodz’s periphery: Zabienec, Kaliska, Chojny or Widzew and enjoy reasonably comfortable(1) – if not very fast train journeys.

There is currently no money nor end date for the completion of the 2,000 million PLN project, 1,500 million of which is being put up by PKP and 500 million by the City of Lodz. The project will not add a single new train path between Lodz and Warsaw.  Just think what 2,000 million PLN could have done in removing speed restriction and bottlenecks in key places around the Polish railway network.

For those readers admiring the progress on the new station in the photo above, perhaps I should explain that the concrete deck in the picture is not intended to be the track bed level of the new station, merely its ceiling. The actual station level remains to be excavated, under the newly cast concrete deck in the picture.

(1) Apart from certain Lodz-Krakow services worked by the PESA ED74 EMUs with their back-breaking seats.

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More: Wikipedia – Łódź Fabryczna railway station

Finance Minister cuts 1,000,000,000PLN from rail

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

'Update 2009: Europe': Jacek Rostowski

Jacek Rostocki, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister of Poland.

(Click image to see original on Wikipedia and for details of source and licensing.)

Faced with a 23.6 billion PLN ‘hole’ in this year’s budget, yesterday’s meeting of the Council of Ministers approved savings of 7.6 billion PLN proposed by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister of Poland, Jacek Rostocki.

The largest cut, 3.14 billion falls on the Ministry of Defence, while the Ministry of Transport, Construction and Maritime Affairs faces a cut of 1.01 billion PLN. The savings will be ‘shared’ by Directorate of Motorways and Trunk roads which loses 2 million PLN and polish railways which lose 1 billion PLN.

Sadly rail, lacking a convincing lobby to defend its interests, is perceived as a ‘soft target’ by the Polish government and is regularly singled out for swingeing cuts which leave road investment effectively unscathed.

While government sources emphasise that the cuts will not effect investment in rail infrastructure upgrades, it seems highly unlikely that Polish railways will be able to take up all the EU infrastructure funds that would have been available had Poland’s rail infrastructure manager, PKP PLK, been more generously funded.

During the period 2007-2013 Polish railways were allocated a pool some 20 billion PLN from EU funds. Unfortunately due to problems in finding “own funds” it appears likely that over 5 billion PLN will be lost.

As for the next funding round, sources close to the European Commission have reported that while Poland has been lobbying hard for funding for light rail and tram projects the same has not been happening for prospective heavy rail investments.

Sources:

The cull begins, 2,000 route km to go

Saturday, 16 February 2013

3,000 km more to follow?

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PLK’s ‘Network Optimisation’ presentation.

(Click image to view or download the pdf file which includes a list of lines affected.)

On Friday, Poland’s rail infrastructure manager, PKP PLK,  announced that a total of 2,000 route kilometres was due to close by the end of the year.

According to PKP PLK, the effects of the programme – some 90 lines are due to close – will be to reduce the size of the Polish railway network from 19,200 km to 17,200 km. However, in September 2012, Rynek Kolejowy, was reporting that a ‘deal’ had been concluded within the Ministry of Transport whereby the target size of the Polish railway network would be some 14,000 – 15,000 km, necessitating a total line cull of some 5,000 km.

Perhaps, fearing a backlash from the Polish railway trade unions and the new train operating companies, PKP PLK is trying to put as much positive spin on the news as possible. (The unions are already furious that PKP’s daughter companies are trying to renege on a travel benefits package that was awarded to railway employees as part of an earlier salary and benefits package.)

PLK are talking about network ‘optimisation’ rather than closure. The lines would only be ‘suspended for a time’ rather than ‘closed’, says PLK’s vice chairman, Filip Wojciechowski, in charge of the restructuring programme. Only 910 km of route are definitively due to close, the other 1090 km will only close after the demand from train operating companies has been taking into account. There will be no further closures Wojcichowski assured at a press conference.

To those familiar with the Beeching closure programme much of the above language will be depressingly familiar. Services in the UK were only ‘suspended’, then after closure railway lines were disposed of in indecent haste as if to make sure that any subsequent reopening would be nigh on impossible.

Strategic considerations were sacrificed for short term financial goals. The Great Central Railway route from London to Manchester, constructed to European loading gauge, was closed at the same time that a detailed geological survey was being conducted prior to the connection of Britain’s railways to Europe via the Channel Tunnel! When the Beeching closures failed to make BR profitable another round of drastic closures was proposed in the early 1970s which was only averted by the most vigorous lobbying.

What is really depressing is that the supporting material released by PLK also seems to be based on the principle that PKP PLK should be ‘making a profit’. Any lines that detract from this objective should be axed. PLK’s press release cites the example of the 84 km section of line 227 between Czerwonka – Orzysz which carries only 3-4 freight trains a week and is supposed to be losing PLK over 1.5 million PLN a year.

Not only does the 1.5 million loss seem totally unrelated to anything happening on the ground – such lines enjoy zero annual maintenance and the block keepers and level crossing keepers were all laid of year’s ago – the implication that this traffic should all go by road makes no allowance for the additional road maintenance bill caused by the lorries carrying the transferred freight traffic.

It is a fact, frequently ignored by Poland’s transport planners, that the damage caused by a road vehicle moving over a road service varies as the 4th power of its axle weight. A simple calculation demonstrates that the typical HGV travelling over Poland’s roads is subsidised by ordinary motorists and taxpayers. It is a sobering thought that most of Poland’s road network would fail the ‘profitability test’ being applied by Poland’s Ministry of Transport to the country’s rail network.

Is Friday’s news the beginning of a stealth closure programme which in reality is targeting 25% or more of Poland’s railway network. Here at BTWT we very much fear that the evidence strongly suggests that in  reality this is the case.

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Finance Minister cuts rail support by 50%

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

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.

Nowak courts Chinese rail investors

Monday, 30 July 2012

China Railways CRH5 at Qinhuangdao. Photo 颐园新居.

(Click image to see original on Wikipedia and for licensing.)

Poland’s Transport Minister, Slawomir Nowak, has concluded a 5 day official visit to China. The visit took place at the invitation of China’s Transport Minister, Li Shenglin. The Polish delegation included Poland’s rail minister, Andrzej Massel, and the head of Poland’s Information and Foreign Investment Agency (PAIiIZ), Sławomir Majman. Other members of his delegation included representatives of PKP PLK, PKP Cargo, LHS, DCT, and the ports of Gdansk, Gdynia and Szczecin-Swinoujscie.

In China key meetings took place with the Deputy Minister for Trade, Zhong Shanan, and the Deputy Minister of Transport, Weng Mengyong, Other important meeting took place with representatives of some of China’s largest transport companies : China Shipping Container Lines, Cosco Shipping Line & Cosco Freight Forwarding Company, Shanghai Electric and the GeoHarbour Group.

Is it significant that meetings appear to have only taken place at deputy minister level? The official website of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Chinese Transport Ministry – always keen to promote China to the rest of the world – are strangely silent on Nowak’s visit.

The purpose of the visit was to promote Poland as an attractive country for investment and a good place to do business in. Given the rapid transformation of China’s railways over the last two decade it is remarkable that no meetings appear to have been held with Chinese locomotive and rolling stock manufacturers, or with Chinese railway construction companies.

It is too early yet to judge whether the visit will succeed in its aims and improve relations between the two countries; a relationship which is still soured by mutual recriminations over the collapse of the Covec contract for building part of the A2 motorway.

Sources:

Board changes at PKP PLK

Thursday, 26 April 2012

 

New broom, Remigiusz Paszkiewicz. Photo European Economic Congress.

Remigiusz Paszkiewicz was appointed today Chairman of the Board of PKP PLK, the PKP subsidiary responsible for Poland’s railway infrastructure in place of Zbigniew Szafranski.

Remigiusz Paszkiewicz’s previous appointment was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of petrochemical giant Grupa Orlen’s chemical subsidiary Anwil. He graduated from the Environmental Engineering Faculty at Warsaw Polytechnic and from the Polish National School of Public Administration. Since 1994 he worked in the Projects Office (today ORLEN Projekt) in Petrochemia Płock S.A.

In the years 1996-2001 he was employed in the Ministry of Finance and then, till 2007, in Narodowy Bank Polski, the National Polish National Bank. He came back to PKN ORLEN in 2007 and was Deputy Director in the Capital Group Office. Then, he was Director of the Office for Unipetrol Affairs and Acting President of the Board in Inowrocławskie Kopalnie Soli SOLINO SA. On 1st January 2009 he has became a Member of the Board of ANWIL S.A. On 29th June 2010 he was appointed acting Chairman and on 1st October 2010 Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

Yesterday, Jacek Kałlur, formerly HR Director of TPSA was appointed HR Director of PKP PLK. The position of Director for Investment remains vacant.

On his way out, Zbigniew Szafranski. Photo BTWT.

IC loses 73% W-wa – Gdansk passengers

Monday, 23 January 2012

March timetable – 85% ‘Express’ trains to run even slower.

Worsening connection times. Source Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.

(Click table to see the original on the GazetaPrawna.pl website.)

Today’s Dziennik Gazeta Prawna (Daily Law Journal) carries a damning article about worsening state of Polish rail services. Quoting PKP IC chairman, Janusz Malinowski, DGP reveals that as a result of worsening connection times 73% less passengers were carried on the Warsaw – Gdansk route in September 2011 than in the same period the previous year. On the Warsaw – Krakow and Warsaw – Katowice routes the fall in passenger numbers was 20%.

The results are a disaster for PKP IC. Its prestigious Express (Ex), Express InterCity (EIC) and EuroCity (EC) services, which in 2010 accounted for more 30% of its revenues, are haemorrhaging passengers. In an attempt to stem the flow PKP has dropped the price of certain tickets. For example, the cost of travelling on the Malopolske and Norwida services between Cracow – Warsaw and Gdynia has been reduced by 30%. But not all the passengers have come back.

Connection times and ticket prices are important factors in determining whether passengers choose to travel by train, but so are ‘soft’ factors such as the ease of purchasing tickets, the accuracy of timetable information and customer service. PKP IC  manages to achieve ‘third world’ levels on all 5 of the key factors important to passengers. Of course, not all factors are completely under the control of PKP IC. Ticket prices are driven by track access charges which are controlled by another PKP subsidiary, PKP PLK, which has actually raised its charges for trains travelling on the Warsaw – Gdynia route by 30%!

To add insult to injury, connection times will actually get worse for 85% of Ex, EIC and EC trains, following the March timetable adjustment. Of the 80 trains whose connection times will be affected by the new timetable only 12 will reach their destinations in less time than before. Undersecretary of State responsible for rail, Andrzej Massel, assures intending passengers that the longer journey times are only a temporary measure to allow key infrastructure work to be complete in time for Euro 2012 and that after 1 June connection times will improve dramatically.

DGP comments that the improved train times will be the result of certain infrastructure works being suspended for the duration of the championships. When the fans go home, the works will resume and the slower connection times will return.

Source:

Poland’s vanishing railway lines

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

The two tracks on the left lead to the site of Gdansk’s first railway station. Photo Ewa Kowalska.

(Click image to see more photos by Ewa Kowalska on the ibedeker.pl portal and read her article [in Polish] about the damage by thieves to the 17th century walls in this area.)

In a frank interview with wnp.pl’s Piotr Stefaniak, Zbigniew Szafranski, the chairman of Poland State Railway’s infrastructure company PKP PLK, paints a stark picture about the deteriorating Polish railway network.

For many years we have been running a deficit as regards the amount of track that we rennovate and the track where we have to apply speed limits. This year we have had to reduce speed limits on 1,477 km of track and we have raised speed limits on only 638 km. Our schedule for 2011 is even worse, we will be able to raise speed limits on 421 km of track,  but we will be reducing speed limits on 1978 km. We are also assuming that we will be closing 1,523 km of track. Currently we are running on just over 19 thousand route kilometres, ten years ago it was 23 thousand.

We have over 5,000 temporary speed restrictions. This works out on average as one such speed restriction every 4 km. Although it’s true that such bottlenecks aren’t evenly distributed. If someone travels from Krakow to Rzeszow they will encounter 80 such speed restrictions. The journey turns into a nightmare.

Szafranski goes on to explain that by 2015, some 3,600 route km of track will have been renovated – leaving the remaining 15,400 km in a worse state than they were before! Although the EU is contributing some 4,300 million PLN to upgrade the so-called TEN-T routes, for this to happen PKP PLK needs to find some 5,600 million PLN of match funding. Unfortunately, the money for this simply isn’t there – it will have to be borrowed from the European Investment bank saddling PKP with heavy debt servicing costs. Szafranski reckons it would cost 47,000 million PLN to bring the rest of the network up to scratch. At the current rate of progress this would take him 43 years!