Posts Tagged ‘PKP InterCity’

Intercity fined 2.2 m PLN

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Watchdog slams ‘unfair’ promotions, but is UOKiK’s fine fair?

PKP Intercity core routes (excluding trains taken over from PKP PR)

PKP Intercity has been fined 2,282,390 million PLN (approx. 0.5 million GBP) by the Urzad Ochrony Konkurencji i Konsumentow (Office of Competition and Consumer Protection) for practices which the Commission claims breach Poland’s consumer protection laws. But is UPKiK’s fine itself fair?

In January 2009, Malgorzata Krasnodebska-Tomkiel, the chairperson of UOKiK commenced proceedings against PKP Intercity  to establish whether the regulations which governed the sale of certain PKP Intercity tickets infringe the rights of passengers. UOKiK checked the conditions attached to Intercity’s special offer tickets: Bilet weekendowy (Weekend), Bilet podróżnika (Traveller’s), Wcześniej i Taniej (Advanced). They were particularly interested in the ability of passenger’s to obtain a refund for an unused ticket as well as the conditions relating to purchases of tickets through the Internet.

The Weekend and Traveller’s tickets gave passengers the right to travel on an unlimited number of Intercity trains from 19.00 hours on Friday to 06.00 hours on Monday morning. PKP Intercity insisted – quite reasonably in our view – that if you purchased such a ticket and wanted your money back you had to hand it in before the period for which it was valid. The advanced ticket had to purchased 15 days in advance of when the journey was to be made and if you wanted a refund had to be handed in at least two hours before your journey was to commence.

Mrs Krasnodebska-Tomkiel has ruled that these restrictions are unlawful and has fined PKP Intercity the equivalent of 0.5 million GBP. Someone should point out to her that if you want a cheap ticket it is not unreasonable that extra restrictions are bundled in with its sale. In the days when I was sent around Europe by air my employers purchased Club class tickets and I changed my flights and carriers as if I was hopping on and off trains on the London Underground. Now that I buy my own tickets and travel on the low cost carriers at ridiculously cheap fares, I do not think it unreasonable for the carrier to keep my money if I decline to travel.

PKP has announced its intention to appeal against the UOKiK decision to the Competition and Consumer Protection Court. If the ruling is upheld it will be a victory for the road lobby – passengers will pay the fine in the form of higher fares and Intercity’s ability to attract new passengers through special promotions will be severely curtailed.

Meanwhile genuine abuses by Intercity of its monopoly position go unpunished. A reader writes that for the last fortnight he has been trying to make an advance purchase some 50 tickets for a group journey right across Poland which is to take place at the beginning of March. (Tickets are supposed to be on sale from 60 days before the departure of a train.) He regularly purchases group tickets and has already received payment from his customers. You would have thought that such a customer would have his own account manager and receive VIP treatment. Not a bit of it. Intercity have blocked the sale until tomorrow when the company raises its prices!

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No trains to Zamosc

Thursday, 10 September 2009

PKP IC cuts 10% of its trains

Zamosc

Town square Zamosc. Photo Maciej Ukleja.

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

Starting 1st September, PKP InterCity has cut 10% of its long-distance services. Most of the slashed trains are pospieszny (semi-fast) trains which PKP IC had taken over earlier this year from PKP Przewozy Regionalne.

Many trains have been cut back and no longer run the full distance forcing passengers to change trains or take a bus for part of their journey. Other trains only run on one or two days a week. Slupsk and Rybnik have lost their direct services to Poznan, Katowice and Gdansk. Lodz has lost its direct train from Szczecin as well as trains to Czestochowa and Cracow. While Zamosc, with 66,600 inhabitants and a UNESCO world heritage site has lost all its rail passenger services.

The 12:50 to Moscow

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

DwBialoruskiMoskwa

Journey’s end – Moskwa Biloruski

(Click to see original and for details of licensing.)

Our story about the lady waiting at the tram stop brought us a follow up from an ex-pat Brit living in Poland. He had some important guests to look after who had flown into Warsaw from London and had asked for his help to catch the 12:50 Moscow train the next day.

He came to their hotel early on Saturday morning and joined them for breakfast. They booked out in good time and a couple of tram rides took them to Warszawa Centralna station. (They preferred tram to taxi.) At this point there was some 90 minutes to go before the departure of their train.

He guided his VIPs to the Whittard coffee house underneath the Marriot hotel and then took one of them to the foreign exchange bureau to change some money. They drank their coffee and made their way through the underground passages to the railway station. Leaving his guests temporarily he took the escalator to the booking hall to check the platform number. Some 30 minutes still to go.

No 12:50 on the departure board. Of course, being an important international train it will be shown on the special InterCity board. But the InterCity departure board was showing non-stop advertisements. He found an old fashioned paper timetable – no 12:50. Hold on, it was there, but shown as departing from Warszawa Zachodnia (Warsaw West).

He rushed downstairs with the dreadful news. We can get to Zachodnia in 5 minutes, he told his guests, but the next train is in 15 minutes. Let’s grab a taxi, said the leading VIP. Precious time ebbed as they rushed to the taxi rank, agreed a price and bundled in their luggage.

They rushed off, going up Aleje Jerozlimskie – all was well they would just make Zachodnia in good time. At this point my friend did what he should have done at the start he asked to see the railway ticket. There it was the 12:50 – departing from Wschodnia (Warsaw East). He had misread the time table – left to right is East to West not vice versa.

He turned the taxi round and the driver performed a miracle in getting them to Wschodnia – 3 minutes after their train has left! A large some of money was paid to the taxi driver and my friend – at this point on the verge of having a stroke – went off with his friends’ ticket to the information office.

Here he learnt three interesting things. First another group of Brits had had a similar experience a few moments earlier. Second, his friends could still make their destination in good time if they took the 15:40 train. Third the rebooking fee would be less than their taxi fare across Warsaw!

They made their way to the international ticket window. There was only one person ahead of them, but it took the booking attendant 40 minutes to service the customer. Finally they were at the window. Ten minutes later they were clutching their new tickets. With plenty of time to spare they went for a beer and a meal at the restaurant across the road from the station.

All’s well that ends well, although there was a moments panic when my friend misheard the platform announcement and nearly put his guests on the train from Moscow which arrives a couple of minutes earlier.

(Intending passengers please note, all Warsaw – Moscow trains call at Warszawa Centralna with the exception of the 12:50.)

From Poznan to London – part 1

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

A virtual train journey.

picture-10

PKP’s InterCity e-ticketing system is a joke

As regular readers of BTWT will know, I hate plane travel.

My feeling of oppression starts at the airport. Stressed plane travellers – struggling vainly with luggage and kids, send out the same extra-sensory signals as wounded animals. Their vibrations mix with the hunting signals sent out by machine gun carrying policemen and testosterone charged security operatives. The conflicting waves hit my own receptors like radio interference. My body wants to fight or flee. My brain tells me that either course of action is likely to be suicidal. My heart pumps. My blood pressure crosses the red safety line. During the next three hours, as security and safety announcements follow one after another, I age another biological year.

Train travel is different. Nobody orders me to take off my shoes or confiscates my bottle of drinking water. Nobody straps me into my seats or implies that, if my neighbour forgets to switch his mobile off, the train will derail and plough into the next motorway bridge. Train staff are, by and large, genuinely friendly and helpful. Passengers travelling in the same compartment, or leaning against the same bar in the restaurant car, are usually happy to exchange a few words or even an entire life story.

So I thought that I would treat myself, practice what I preach and travel from Poznan to London by train. Live a little, and have a drink at the champagne bar at St Pancras. I set my myself a budget of 100 euro for a single journey. Now where to start?

I know that PKP’s InterCity operated Jan Kiepura train from Warsaw includes carriages that go as far West as Cologne. so the logical place to buy a ticket would be on-line via the InterCity website. Right? Wrong. The PKP InterCity web site is clunky and demanding. You must be registered on our site. Why? I just want to look up the ticket price. Oh well, Here goes! Password must have eight characters. Password must include numerical characters. Passport number? After 15 minutes of this sort of thing I’m informed that there is a computer error. I try again. I’m in!

Feeling like the David character in the 1983 children’s thriller War Games. I enter Poznan as my starting point. Poznan Gorcz or Poznan Gl? Where the heck is Poznan Gorcz? I choose GL. I enter Koln as my destination. The system whirrs round and round. Nothing! I try Kolonia and Cologne in quick sucession. Nothing! In desperation I try Berlin. Nothing. I navigate back to the start page and read the FAQs.

Is it possible to buy a ticket for an international train?

It would not be simple to implement this feature, because it would be necessary for the e-IC system to interwork with systems of other countries. International trains will be added at a later date.

I cursed whoever procured this useless e-ticket system. I cursed the idiot who implemented it. Time to go back to the begining. In the case of European rail travel there is no one better to go to than The Man in Seat Sixty One. What does his website seek to do?

First, it sets out to HELP people who already know they want to travel by train or ship, but who can’t find out about it through normal commercial websites or travel agencies. Many people prefer the experience of train travel, are afraid of flying, or simply want to avoid unnecessary flights for environmental reasons, but information can often be difficult if not impossible to find. Second, it aims to INSPIRE people to do something more rewarding with their lives and their travel opportunities than going to an airport, getting on a globalised airliner and missing all the world has to offer. There’s more to travel than the destination. It used to be called a j o u r n e y

At last someone who understands me!

Dear Man, where have you been all my life?

In seat 61.

More tomorrow.