PKP Intercity: We are growing responsibly. An Interview with Jarosław Oniszczuk Member of the Board Polish State Railways
The jury of the Diamonds of Infrastructure and Construction Competition has awarded PKP Intercity the title of Laureate in the Socially Responsible Company category for its efforts to assist Ukrainian citizens in 2022. What are the key outcomes of PKP Intercity’s initiative to help refugees from Ukraine?
Polish railways have been actively involved in helping refugees from the very beginning of the war. Railway stations have been among the first destinations for Ukrainian citizens. They have mainly travelled on PKP Intercity trains reaching even the most remote destinations in the country and beyond. More than 2.3 million people had used the assistance and free domestic travel by the end of last June.
We have also provided in-kind assistance for Ukrainian railway workers and a sanitary train in collaboration with the Government of Poland. Furthermore, we have co-ordinated relief efforts by other carriers who offered their depots as shelter. Just a few days after the start of the war in Ukraine, we launched a hotline in Ukrainian for Ukrainian citizens.
The relief to Ukrainians was a huge logistic effort. A total of 3,016 trains were dispatched from towns near the Ukrainian border travelling into more central destinations in the country, including 2,373 extended regular services trains, 270 additional trains based on PKP Intercity rolling stock and 373 trains based on regional carriers’ rolling stock. 3,830 regular service trains across the country were extended with a total of additional 9,941 carriages.
Did the policy of free travel for Ukrainian citizens affect PKP Intercity’s operations?
Undoubtedly, it was a time of hard work for our employees. It demonstrated that rail transport was a dependable mode of transport not only on a daily basis but also in times of crisis. It is worth emphasising that in addition to our commitment to helping refugees, we pursued our core mission of providing transport services to millions of regular passengers. I can say with pride that we rose to the challenge.
PKP Intercity carried a record number of passengers, nearly 59 million in 2022. What contributed to this success?
The significant increase in the demand for PKP Intercity services was caused, among other things, by the extension of our Promo offer to all train categories early last May. The dynamic price management system in our product supported travel at lower prices than before. The Taniej z Bliskimi (Cheaper with Relatives) product was also a hit, too, at a time of rising inflation and rising fuel prices, with more than 4.1 million passengers in 2022. The huge autumn promotions offered a pool of 1.2 million tickets at attractive prices.
We are witnessing a comeback of rail travel. Modern rolling stock, deals tailored to customers preferences and the development of remote sales channels drive the trend. The ultimate goal is to make rail travel an obvious and natural choice for more travellers.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced PKP Intercity to modify its investment plans? What are your projections right now?
The pandemic has left its mark on every sector of the economy and it has not spared the rail industry, either. Not only did it temporarily halt the rapid growth in PKP Intercity passenger numbers, but it also caused major logistic issues preventing the timely delivery of ordered rolling stock. We counteracted such risks using appropriate contractual provisions for each order and we did not freeze our purchasing programme to ensure that the economy continued to grow and supply chains remained robust.
We have come out much stronger. Our investment strategy was expanded in early 2022, we increased our CAPEX projections from PLN 19 billion to PLN 27 billion the end of this decade. This is a major step forward towards creating a modern and innovative railway network in Poland.
By 2030, we plan to provide passengers with a transparent, repeatable timetable that will ensure a stable and predictable service. An optimal route plan will create a coherent transport network that meets passengers needs and supports the daily rhythm of the public in Poland.
How will PKP Intercity develop its long-distance and international services to meet the growing competition in the transport market?
The huge budget supports huge projects. This will ensure that trains will run every hour or more frequently on the most popular routes. Travelling at speeds of 160-250 km/h will become the standard, thus reducing traveling times.
We will consistently add new routes. We are planning to expand our international services. Each of these decisions will significantly strengthen our position in the transport market. We want to provide opportunities for the public in Poland to travel between countries comfortably, quickly and cheaply, and without polluting the environment.
What is the trend in ticket sales channels?
We aim to make purchasing tickets for PKP Intercity connections as easy as possible for travellers, which is why we are gradually expanding our sales network. In 2021, we launched partnerships with external providers and introduced a new agency sales model. Today, PKP Intercity tickets can be purchased on popular platforms such as mPay, e-podroznik.pl, KOLEO and SkyCash. The success of the policy to standardise commercial terms and conditions has prompted us to expand our physical point of sale network to cater for the needs of passengers who choose not to purchase tickets online. Tickets will soon be available at kiosks, hotels, grocery shops or petrol stations. With this strategy, the lack of a PKP ticket office in the nearest town will no longer be an issue. Then there is the new PKP Intercity application that we keep improving while adding new features.
What are PKP Intercity’s plans for transport services and is it planning to offer new products or promotions?
Some 25.4 million passengers used our promotional offers and statutory discounts in 2022. These figures demonstrate the importance of not only developing your service network but also your offers and sales channels. Our promotions are designed to offer passengers real benefits to encourage them to choose trains over other modes of transport. In this case, the bargain is the travelling at the best possible price. We are committed to offering passengers consistently excellent quality of travel and to continuously improve our services to make rail the mode of transport of choice.
Last Updated on August 4, 2023 by Anastazja Lach