[rescue] Things I'd like to find good homes for...

Maciej W. Rozycki macro at linux-mips.org
Thu Sep 3 10:24:29 CDT 2020

On Wed, 2 Sep 2020, Sandwich Maker wrote:

> " It's a beautiful city. I've lived here 3 years now and bought an
> " apartment here. Before that I lived for 3 years in Brno, the 2nd city
> " of the country, far smaller and less pretty, but far friendlier. This
> " is a very beautiful country, with low unemployment, a very low cost
> " of living, lots of jobs for foreigners in its thriving tech sector,
> " and quick rail links to Germany, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary and points
> " east and west... but not so much to Poland because for reasons I don't
> " understand, the Czech and Polish train companies don't like each other
> " and refuse to cooperate.
> ancient political antagonisms, perhaps...

 The story is long, but to put it short: the problem is with Polish 
railways, which have been entangled in politics ever since WWII and in 
decline for passenger services already before the fall of the previous 
regime, even though good public transport was one of the principles of the 
system, and then almost completely collapsed afterwards, due to 
incompetence, mismanagement, and ridiculous "reforms".

 Cuts in the railway network from 1990 to ~2005, obviously including 
actual line dismantling, could be compared to UK's Beeching Axe and have 
vastly reduced people's access to railway transport.  I don't have actual 
figures to hand, and obviously I don't remember them either, but I have a 
comprehensive book at my other home, where the author gathered all the 
data and I could quote them when I get to it.

 After Poland's accession to the EU European the so called cohesion funds 
have become available including ones dedicated to railway development.  
The railway management was however incapable enough to prepare any 
projects to make use of these funds (and we speak of billions of euros!), 
up to the point the Polish government tried to persuade the EU to let the 
funds be used for road development instead.  The EU refused on various 
grounds, including the environment, and eventually some of that money 
started being used and stopped the railway from a complete collapse.

 Some infrastructure modernisation has now been made, beacuse not making 
use of such large sums of money would drive people angry and therefore 
influence election results.  However railway management remains mostly the 
same, not understanding how modern railway transport is supposed to work.  
Consequently many lines that have been modernised at high cost, often 
beyond what was actually required, still see little traffic, like two 
pairs of trains per day (!), running at odd times that serve hardly 
anyone.  Because of that these services see little use and management 
claims these lines are not needed and wants to close them.

 In some regions the situation is a little better than in other ones, 
depending on the attitude of the respective local governments towards 
railway transport.  This is because local governments are responsible for 
running local public transport, including local railway services.  
Infrastructure of some local railway lines is now actually owned by the 
respective local government and those lines are operated in an especially 
well manner, and consequently are very popular.

 Most of the network remains owned by a state-owned network operator 
company however, who is responsible not only for the infrastructure, but 
the timetable as well.  Being state-owned the company's management 
consists of people who usually previously were either in the government or 
in other state-owned companies and are often friends with people in either 
places.  Consequently they are in opposition to local governments and 
companies that are either public or private, and especially foreign-owned.  
The end result they make every effort to discourage competition in 
accessing the railway network.

 That includes bureaucratic obstruction in railway rolling stock 
certification required to give access to the infrastructure and not 
satisfying requirements for the timetable requested, e.g. by introducing 
missed connections at change stations (additionally the timetable is 
changed, often in a significant manner, at least four times a year) or 
offering inconvenient running hours.

 Consequently railway service remains poor throughout most parts of the 
country and that also affects cross-border services.  Czech operators 
actually tried to access the Polish network on many occasions and failed 
most of the time owing to said bureaucratic obstruction.  I believe the 
most recent attempt has been a Leo Express service running to Poland, 
which everyone who cares about railway services in Poland has kept their 
fingers crossed for, especially as Czech railways have consistently been 
considered ones to have one of the best services around.  Life will tell 
if the service manages to survive (but Poland has become to have more 
severe political issues nowadays, which may affect that as fallout).

 Well, the story turned out long anyway, but I hope it helps understanding 
the matters here...


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