RAIL’S historically high market share of freight and passenger traffic in eastern Europe is in peril. This threat comes not just from unfettered road competition buoyed up by government spending on motorways, but from the failure of governments to support their railways as they try to restructure into business entities.

There is a long-standing and serious investment backlog across most of eastern Europe, but it is also clear that many railways have yet to adjust to life in a commercial market where it is essential to go out and sell the services on offer.

These were the stark messages to emerge from Terrapinn’s Central & Eastern European Rail 2004 conference held in Budapest on November 29-30.

Dr Ferenc Kov