OPEN ACCESS operators will be able to use the tracks of Polish State Railways from October 14, when PKP’s automatic monopoly of rail traffic is abolished. The legislation to open up the network has been signed by President Aleksander Kwasniewski, as the first stage of a restructuring programme which could eventually lead to privatisation. The introduction of competition is expected to spur further rationalisation at PKP, with cost saving measures likely to include 12000 redundancies.

According to Krysztof Celinski, head of the railway department at the Ministry of Transport, a new financing structure for PKP will be put in place by January 1, together with access charge and subsidy rates, common technical standards for rolling stock and infrastructure, and regulations on staff responsibilities and safety procedures. A rail safety inspectorate will be set up within the Ministry to oversee rail operations.

PKP and four steel and coal companies already running their own trains will get operating licences automatically, but new entrants will have to be registered in Poland before submitting a formal application to the Ministry. o