PKP Polskie Linie Kolejowe SA (PKP PLK) manages the infrastructure on the 20000route-km national network. Operations and maintenance are wholly funded by access charges from the train operators. The average access charge per train-km is 23·55 zloties (k5) for freight trains and 8·97 zloties for passenger trains, plus taxes. However, some operators question the effectiveness of the charging regime.

Three years ago PKP announced plans to cut back its network from around 22000 route-km to just 18000, but the closure process was halted with the network standing at 20000 route-km because of opposition from the railway trade unions and local government.

Despite earlier enthusiasm for privatisation of PKP, this is not a priority for the current PKP management, nor for the Ministry of Infrastructure. There was one exception to this policy, namely the 900 route-km of narrow gauge railways, all of which have been transferred from PKP to regional institutions.

Upgrading plans

Three projects are in progress to upgrade important international corridors to allow passenger trains to run at 160 km/h. Work is concentrated on the east-west corridor from the German border through Poznan and Warszawa to the Belarussian frontier, and at the moment engineering teams are busy over the 50 route-km from Minsk Maz to Siedlce east of Warszawa. Work on a 15 km section between Rzepin and the German border at Kunowice/Frankfurt-an-der-Oder has been completed, and modernisation of the whole of this route should be finished by December 2004.

Upgrading is also proceeding over the 70 route-km from Legnica to Wegliniec on the E30 corridor line in southwest Poland. This should be completed by December 2007.

These projects are going ahead thanks to funding from the European Union under the ISPA programme, which contributes up to 75% of the cost. The remaining 25% is funded by the Polish government. Total EU help for these three projects is expected to reach €204m. PKP PLK only gets government and ISPA funding for investment and modernisation; even so in 2003, around 30% of the investment expenditure, over €50m, was funded by the company from its own resources.

CAPTION: Recently relaid track at Mrozy on the Minsk Maz - Siedlce section of the Warszawa - Terespol main line, part of the E20 corridor

CAPTION: A special inspection train ran over the rebuilt section of the E20 corridor between Minsk Maz and Siedlice last year; the event was attended by John O’Rourke, First Counsellor of the EU Representation in Poland, responsible for ISPA projects