Polish railway speeds up. We talk with Dr. Jakub Majewski, President of the ProKolej Foundation

Nobody doubts that the world is moving faster and faster. It is not only the domain of today’s travels, it is also a symbol of our everyday life. Global challenges, such as the ecological policy of European countries, as well as local conditions, for example related to the condition of the transport infrastructure, mean that when talking about railways we must raise a lot of issues. Individual aspects of Polish solutions will be presented by Dr. Jakub Majewski, President of the ProKolej Foundation.
This year has been declared the year of the railroads. In this way, the European Union emphasizes that rail transport is the most ecological solution. Should we take trains if we want to breathe really cleaner air?

According to all analyzes, rail is the most ecological means of transport. Trains emit four times less pollution than airplanes in passenger transport and five times less than trucks in freight transport. In order to achieve the ambitious goals of the European Green Deal strategy, the European Union must focus on rail transport as the most environmentally friendly form of transport. The more that our dream, just built highways are already clogged. And one train can fit as many passengers as 200 cars and as many loads as 80 trucks. It is surprising that despite the obvious advantages, railways in Poland are still marginalized. And it should be exactly the opposite!

How does the Foundation support the development of railways in Poland? What are you doing to change the situation described above?

We are a very active expert centre which analyses and reviews transport policy on an ongoing basis. We work with entrepreneurs, administration, PKP Group companies and the media. We provide opinions on legislative proposals and support decision-making processes. We were one of the first to begin to remind people about the role of rail transport in the implementation of the European strategy for the New Green Deal. We are determined, because in our country the challenges are special – we have a coal-based energy industry, outdated power plants, burdensome smog, white areas where no public transport reaches and some of the highest railway infrastructure charges. These are the issues we have to deal with in the near future. Therefore the ProKolej Foundation using different communication channels reminds that the transport sector is not a leader in modern climate policy. We have underlined this in our own report “Railways for climate”.

Climate issues are of course very important. However, as a passenger, when boarding the train, we expect safety, driving comfort and punctuality in reaching the destination station…

…of course. I would also add to these points what is happening before the trip. That is, access to information, purchase of a ticket or the standard of the train station, and the first contacts of the traveler with the railway. It is at this stage that decisions about the choice of means of transport are actually made and the image of the railway is assessed by those who – yet – do not use it. That is why we support all programs for the expansion of railway infrastructure in Poland, we insist on their effectiveness, but we promote best practices. On the initiative of the Foundation, the Polish edition of the “Railway Station of the Year” competition has started, which promotes the most interesting and friendly railway stations. Experts and Internet users help us choose them – we already have over 20,000 of them! This is what shows the scale of interest in railways in Poland.

So what would have to happen for the railways in Poland to get going again?

Much has already changed. This is due to EU and national funds. It is also the effort of railwaymen from the PKP Group, from local government companies or private carriers, or the industry working for the benefit of the market. The role of public opinion, municipal movements and organisations such as ours is also growing. There is still a lot of work to be done, but we have to be honest and admit that the group of activists promoting the industry is growing. After years of criticism, this is an important trend to build on.

Dr. Jakub Majewski
President of the ProKolej Foundation

Analyst, specialist in logistics, planning and development of transportation systems, infrastructural investments, organisation and marketing of public transportation. Graduate of the Centre for European Regional and Local Studies as well as the Faculty of Geography and Regional Studies at the University of Warsaw. University lecturer and head of the Laboratory of EU Transportation Policy of the Pultusk Academy of Humanities – since 2012 with the title of doctor. Former president of the Institute for Development and Promotion of Rail, proxy of Marshal’s Offices coordinating organisation of regional transportation. Member of management boards and supervisory boards of rail carriages (PKP Przewozy Regionalne, Warszawska Kolej Dojazdowa, Szybka Kolej Miejska). In the years 2009-2010, president of Koleje Mazowieckie, in the years 2012-2014 vice-president of the Office of Rail Transport for rail sector regulation. Member of steering committees, expert in implementation and evaluation of operational programmes financed from EU funds. Advisor of the Ministry of Infrastructure in the process of drafting the Act on public transportation. Co-author of several analytical works, research and feasibility studies for industry and transport. Licenced train driver, press and TV sector commentator.

Last Updated on July 9, 2021 by Łukasz