Posts Tagged ‘PKP Przewozy Regionalne’

Confusion and tears as IC takes over PR

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

ticket

Pospieszny train ticket issued in Kalisz for a journey to Lodz. It says ‘Przewozy Regionalne’ sp z o.o. on the top left and PKP IC on the middle right.

On 1st December, PKP InterCity (IC) took over the operation of the pospieszny semi-fast trains from PKP Przewozy Regionalne. Our roving reporter grabbed a pospieszny train from Lodz Kaliska to Kalisz to see how the new arrangements worked out in practice. Here is his report.

Lodz Kaliska is the name of one of one of the smarter night clubs in Lodz. It is also the name of the surrealistic semi-finished, semi-post-modern Lodz Kaliska Station. There was once a comfortable railway station here in typical Lodz art noveau style. The authorities, hoping no doubt for a few bungs from the contractors, decided that the station needed rebuilding, but after a couple of decades of building works, got fed up with the project and left it half-finished.

For a station building barely 10 years old, Lodz Kaliska is dreadfully shabby. The automatic doors don’t open. The catering arrangements are a disgrace. The train indicators in the subway don’t work. The leaking roof in the ticket hall, supposedly ‘fixed’ a few years back at enormous cost, still leaks. You get the picture.

The only ticket office that was open said ‘Przewozy Regionalne’. There were no information leaflets about the new pricing arrangements, or any timetables to be had. The ticket clerk explained that there was no point in printing timetables, because on 14 December the train timetable was going to be changed anyway. I made a mental note that Infrastructure Minister, Cezary Garbarczyk’s injunction to PKP senior managers that they should learn to love their passengers had clearly not yet trickled down to the chaps who ran PKP IC.

The train conductor entered my compartment with a smile. I smiled back, I’m not sure whether I should congratulate you or commiserate.

I’m not sure either, she replied. I’m still with Przewozy Regionalne, but InterCity need another 30 conductors so I may transfer.

What will it mean for passengers, I asked.

Well, it won’t be good news, she confided. Previously you could could by a combined ticket which would allow you to travel by pospieszny train to say Zdunska Wola and then complete your journey to one of the less important stations by an osobowy, but now you will need separate tickets, which will be more expensive.

At Kalisz I checked the time of my train back to Lodz at the Przewozy Regionalne window. The clerk explained that she now worked for InterCity. I hadn’t bought a return ticket because I wasn’t sure whether I would be back in time for the 18:13 osobowy, or the last train of the day back to Lodz, the 19:52 pospieszny.

In the evening I returned to Kalisz station in time to catch the pospieszny. There was a queue at the booking office because the man at the head of the queue had just been told that he could buy a pospieszny season ticket – which would no longer be valid for the osobowy train that he used to take to work in the morning. Or he could buy an osobowy season ticket which would not valid or upgradable for travel on pospiesny trains. If he wanted to travel out to Ostrow Wielkopolski in the morning on a osobowy train, and return in the evening on an pospieszny, as had been his wont, he would have to buy two season tickets. He could not believe what he was being told, but in the end the truth sank in and he bought a single pospieszny ticket to Ostrow. No doubt, from today, he is travelling by bus.

Just before Pabianice we slowed down to a crawl to pass over a level crossing. We then slowly passed a stationary osobowy with a very worried looking train crew standing in a huddle in the cab. After we passed the train. I could see a police photographer taking pictures of the track that the osobowy had just passed. A body, covered in green plastic sheeting, lay across the track. Not a very good day for PKP.

Scheduled steam to resume at Wolsztyn…

Friday, 27 June 2008

but no one knows how many trains and for how long.

Czeslaw Janus i Andrzej Panczak come off shed on 23.06.2008 © Wojtek Lis

(click for photo in original context, on Parowozy z Wolsztyna, WARNING – Polish and German text)

In an ‘off the record’ briefing, an official in the Wielkopolska province’s transport department told BTWT that as a result of meetings that had taken place last week between Wielkopolska officials and the passenger railway operator PKP Przewozy Regionalne, steam haulage of timetabled passenger trains could restart as early as August and the full three train a day service (one to Leszno and two to Poznan) would resume on 1st October.

The actual number of trains will depend on the price that PKP Cargo will ultimately demand for the provision of its steam engines and rolling stock. The price that has been quoted to Wielkopolska officials has risen from 15 PLN (about £4) to a horrendous 46 PLN (£11-50) per kilometre. Already a couple of UK-based railtour operators have complained that it is cheaper and easier to charter a steam train in Germany than it is in Poland.

The official also confirmed fears that badly maintained steam engines could start forest fires and pointed out that not all passengers wanted to travel in old coaches hauled by steam engines emitting black smoke, particularly in summer where the only form of ‘air conditioning’ was to keep the windows wide open.

Provided PKP Cargo plays ball, the arrangements now being put in place should keep steam haulage of scheduled services going until the end of 2008. As to the long-term future, that’s still anybody’s guess.

Well Played PLK!

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Lodz Fabryczna Station (photo MarcinK on Skyscrapercity.com, click pic for more pictures of Lodz)

Unlike Mike, who publishes the W-wa Jeziorki blog, I used to like the old style trains which plied from Lodz to Warsaw. True the 100 km journey did take 2 hours 15 minutes, but the nicely refurbished compartment coaches were clean comfortable. Rush hours excluded, they offered a pleasant environment for working or reading for pleasure, and if bored one could always engage the guard or one’s fellow passengers in a conversation about the shortcomings of PKP’s management.

However, since PKP noticed that the Warsaw – Lodz service (one of their most profitable) was loosing passengers fast to the rival coach operators, things have not been the same. For the last two years, contractors have been rebuilding the railway. They have not just been relaying track, but also they’ve been draining the trackbed, rebuilding bridges, digging subways, putting up noise barriers and constructing proper platforms. While all this has been going on the train journey lengthened by another hour. To make passengers feel really miserable, brand new shining emus were introduced without compartments, but with back-breaking seats.

Today’s journey did not start well. My taxi driver asked me where I was going and, when I told him that I was going to Warsaw, he told me that I would be lucky to get there at all. A train crash had occured further up the line and all trains were being diverted. He then chose a route which allowed me ample time to study the worst traffic jams in Lodz and ensured that I would miss my train. Unbidden he offered me the information that his rate for going to Warsaw was 250 dollars. I wondered whether I look like the sort of person who if he has a spare 250 dollars in his pocket looks for a taxi driver who can relieve him of the burden?

At the station, the lady behind the ticket desk positively beamed. “There’s been a big train crash and all Warsaw trains are being diverted.” “So how long do you think the journey may take.” “We can’t be sure, apparently one Lodz train left Warsaw this morning and nobody has seen it since.” She cheered me up by telling me that the train that I had just mised hadn’t in fact run. She asked me for 32 zloty for my fare. I told her that yesterday the fare from Warsaw had been 26 zloty and she told me that today was the first day of the new timetable which shortened the journey time to just over 90 minutes.

After making some enquiries I discovered that the next train would leave in an hour. Arming myself with a toasted sandwich and a 1.5 lire bottle of mineral water, I was please to discover that the train would consist of some old fashioned compartment stock which already waiting on platform 2 track 3. (Confusingly for Brits the Poles number both their platforms and tracks.) A TV were waiting like vultures to pounce on the passengers who were travelling on the train from Warsaw. As the hour passed and the train never arrived they moved on to doing short vox pop interviews with passengers boarding the Warsaw train. I grabed the producer and she recorded me doing a little rant about the seating in the new emus.

The guard was not a happy bunny, when I asked him when he thought that we will be in Warsaw, he answered by grumbling that he should have been home over an hour ago. The new tracks are smoother than before but the welding of the rail had not been done to such close tolerancres as in the UK. I slept. When I awoke, we were on the outskirts Warsaw. The blockage had been cleared, we had only lost 20 minutes. Now, when was the last time that you heard of a case in the UK where after a major train crash the line is back in service after barely 12 hours? Well played, PLK – the Polish rail way infrastructure company.

I reached Warsaw in time for a key meeting to brief an important member of the business community about the crisis facing Wolsztyn. He offered to support our lobbying campaign. Tomorrow we will review the Wolsztyn situation and discuss what action BTWT readers can take.