Poland Ready for the Fourth Railway Package?
Konrad Bablinski, Warsaw School of Economics, PKP Intercity
This paper contains an assessment of readiness of the Polish railway to implement the Fourth Railway Package. It is revealed that the country is placed at the medium level of readiness with a number of issues that should be addressed.
The Fourth Railway Package (4RP) is a set of changes that covers standardisation of the rolling stock, specifying standard workforce skills, rules for independent management of rail infrastructure and opening up domestic passenger rail markets. The main aim of this set of European Union (EU) initiatives is to reduce rail subsidies for passenger rail services and is a step forward to introduction of the Single European Railway Area (SERA). Poland like Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Slovakia are ‘quasi-liberalised’ markets, where the passenger rail market is open through ‘open access’ but there is no or little effective competition and the vast majority of public service contracts (PSCs) are directly awarded. In this paper we look at the case of Poland and we try to assess the level of readiness of the Polish railway system to implement the 4RP and identify the main obstacles using in-depth analyses of the statistical data, inter alia the financial data, case studies and the descriptive analyses of the institutional environment and its dynamics. In particular, we look at the ‘market’ pillar, which focuses on the market opening, passenger rail performance and the level of services. It is revealed that the country is placed at the medium level of readiness, with some aspects scoring higher than others. It is clear that despite being a quasi-liberalised rail passenger market, competitive tendering procedures should be strengthened to allow real competition. Removing some institutional barriers like making the Office of Rail Regulation even more independent should remain key objectives for the policy makers in the country. In spite of high administrative burden, Polish passenger rail is performing better every year both operationally and financially, however, financial success can be partially contributed to increasing subsidy levels, which contradicts the aims of the Fourth Railway Package. It is also observed that the growth in the passenger rail market is slower than in the whole passenger transport sector.
Association for European Transport