Competition on the Bratislava – Košice corridor
SLOVAKIA: National passenger operator ZSSK reduced the number of premium IC trains on the Bratislava – Košice main line from three to two daily train pairs from April 15. ZSSK hopes this will reduce losses on the 445 km route between the two largest cities to €1·2m this year, compared to €1·3m in 2014, €1·7m in 2013 and €3m in 2012.
In addition to the premium IC services which are operated on a commercial basis there are another 16 daily express trains, plus 14 which run over sections of the route.
Open access operator RegioJet offers fares from €13·30 on its three daily trains each way, and says it has an average occupancy of 70%. In response ZSSK has cut fares for online tickets from €24 to €12·90, and enhanced passenger comfort. Despite this, the state operator’s IC trains have seen a drop in ridership of 15% to 28% since the start of 2015.
RegioJet has asked the government to subsidise the operation of its trains by €50 000 a month, in return for joining the government’s scheme which provides free travel on subsidised services for all children, students and pensioners (RG 12.14 p 23).