The European Parliament has identified new responsibilities and challenges for railway owners. How do you answer it and attract passengers after the epidemic?

  • The debate “For the European Year of Railways – on new passenger rights and the reactivation of local railways” was the starting point for the conversation about the state of rail transport in Poland and Europe.
  • At the end of April, the European Parliament adopted a new set of rights for rail passengers.
  • The new rules concern, among other things: assistance in the event of delays or cancellation of communications, travel comfort for persons with reduced mobility, or separation of a private space for transporting bicycles.

Experts discussed the future of European railways, passenger rights, transportation exclusion and environmental issues during a debate organized by the Wroclaw Office of the European Parliament. Wojciech Zdanowski – Vice President of Koleje Dolnośląskie and representatives of local government and European institutions took the floor in the discussion.

The debate “For the European Year of Railways – on new passenger rights and the reactivation of local railways” was the starting point for the conversation about the state of rail transport in Poland and Europe.

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One of the main topics of the meeting was the new package of railway passenger rights, which was adopted by the European Parliament at the end of April. The new rules relate to, among other things: assistance in case of delays or cancellation of communications, travel comfort for people with reduced mobility, or separation of a private space for transporting bicycles.

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We like the return to the railways to a greater extent and much faster than the return to aviation, especially international and city trips. We hope that the post-production recovery will lead to a return not only to international railways, but also to local, regional and national railways, as these are the most environmental branches of transportation – the professor said. Bogusław Liberadzki – Member of the European Parliament, Member of the Transport and Tourism Committee of the European Parliament.

As part of the reconstruction plan, we are guided by two basic messages – we focus on green transportation and digitization. We want to be able to remotely make changes to reservations, complaints or ticket purchases – Liberadzki explained.

As emphasized by Wojciech Zdanowski, Vice President of Koleje Dolnośląskie, many of the criteria described have already been met by the airline of Lower Silesia.

We are constantly developing the functionality of purchasing tickets through our online platforms in order to meet the expectations of our travelers. In addition, our trains are equipped with places to transport bicycles for free. In the new fleet, we have also used a specific configuration that will enable us to transport vehicles according to the needs of our passengers – he said.

As he explained, depending on the season – winter or summer, the number of places to transport bicycles will increase or decrease, so that the space on the trains will be adjusted accordingly.

Other potential passenger amenities included reactivations of night connections, the possibility of buying tickets remotely or filing complaints.

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Another important aspect is the issue of excluding transportation, which concerns a part of society. In creating a cohesive public transportation network, bus transportation plays an important role, as it allows mobility between small centers and exchange nodes.

– When using rail transport capabilities, it must be remembered that they should always be supplemented with local mass transit. When creating a network of contacts, as a regional rail transport regulator, we focus on connecting important urban centers, tourist attractions and provincial capitals with the most important centers in the province – explained Timotioz Merda, member of the board of directors of Lower Silesia province responsible for the development of rail transport in the region.

He also added, communes and localities should establish appropriate communication networks that enable passengers to reach those places reached by railways.

This would translate into complementary public transportation in the province, however, cooperation is needed that will allow for an effective fight against the exclusion of transportation – said Merda.

During the discussion, the importance of the criteria for the formation of regional transport and the amount of funds allocated for the modernization of infrastructure and the purchase of railway cars were also emphasized.

It is very important to maintain an adequate ratio in this regard, Wojciech Zhdanovsky stressed.

About 20 percent of funds under all programs should be earmarked for the purchase of modern railroad cars, because it is primarily because it will determine travel comfort and energy efficiency. From 2010 to 2020, the number of Koleje Dolnośląskie passengers increased by one hundred percent. In order to develop railway transportation in the region, we focused on passengers, and we did so by purchasing new train cars and modifying the connection network. It should be remembered that ensuring the appropriate quality of trips will have a direct impact on the use of the services of carriers – he added.

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Regional railways in Lower Silesia

Lower Silesia is one of the typical examples of the effective activation of railroad connections, which translates into popularity and high presence among the passengers of the regional carrier. As confirmed by the Marshal’s office, the past year, despite the restrictions and the temporary suspension of international communications, has not diminished interest in regional railways among passengers from Lower Silesia, which is evident in current passenger flows due to the lifting of restrictions, for example in the number of passengers.

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