Following my post about the final EC Wawel, and the funding absurdity for PKP’s new high speed trains in Poland, here’s yet more bad news when it comes to Germany-Poland rail connections – the two daily regional trains each way in each direction between Frankfurt(Oder) and Poznań will not run from 1st January 2015, stopping only 5 months after they were first re-instated with some fanfare. Die Welt reported about the new train, and the German Foreign Ministry welcomed the establishment of the new connection.
News about the cut can be found (in German) in the DBV’s newsletter here, and this relates to a DB Regio press release about the closure that can be found here. This is the vital section:
Mit Bedauern hat DB Regio Nordost die Entscheidung der PKP PR zur Kenntnis genommen, die erst im August 2014 eingeführte Verbindung zwischen Frankfurt (Oder) und Poznan zum 31. Dezember dieses Jahres einzustellen, da die Leistungen auf der polnischen Seite nicht finanziert sind.
Basically the Poles don’t want to run the service, and hence it will be axed. 4 EuroCity trains each way each day will continue to link Frankfurt(Oder) and Poznań, but those have limited stops along the way.
The problem – alluded to in the DBV press release – relates at least in part to the available rolling stock. The new service used DB 646 class DMUs for the connection, despite the fact that the line between Frankfurt(Oder) and Poznań is electrified the whole way.
The problem of course is in the detail – German signalling, and 15kV electrification for the short run to the marshalling yard just to the west of the river bridge, and Polish signalling and 3kV electrification for the main part of the route on the Polish side. The only passenger locomotives approved for through working are PKP’s Class 370 designed for express passenger trains, and even those require a change of driver at the border, and there are not enough of them to put them into service on regional trains. Neither PKP nor DB owns regional EMUs capable of running on the other side of the border.
As if this were not enough, funding for the Dresden-Wroclaw regional services are only guaranteed until February 2015, according to World Car Free Network (point 7 in close here).
So much for improving German-Polish relations across the border! When it comes to railway services, things go from bad to worse it seems.
Several problems at play here:
1. Annual funding cycle in Poland makes longer-term planning impossible. Services are cut before they have a chance to generate demand.
2. Poland is/was awash with EU money for infrastructure projects, but this is not linked to a minimum level of service provision.
3. PR probably pays DB Regio a lot for the use of the rolling stock. In the case of Dresden – Wroclaw, the diesel trains do not refuel in Poland for various reasons, despite diesel being significantly cheaper there. I suspect the same situation applies here.
4. Germany (in the form of VBB) does not contribute subsidy for the operation of these trains. I believe it does in the case of the FF(O) – Zielona Gora trains.
5. There is alternative electric traction available, but it does not belong to DB Regio or PR. That means hire charges. Alpha Trains among others have multi-voltage TRAXX locos: they are hired by DB Fernverkehr to haul the Paris – Moscow RZD train. DB Schenker class 180 could also return to its former operating area. My understanding is that PKP class 370 is not exactly over-utilised, but whether they are in the right place at the right time to take over these trains is another question.
6. Multi-system EMUs are expensive, especially in the case of small, bespoke orders.
7. Like Dresden – Wroclaw, the current rolling stock is fine for short hops but not suitable for long journeys. This problem is seen wherever regional services try to fulfil the function of long-distance trains.
That’s also absurd. I hope I am not annoying you with that off topic story, but there are even worse absurdities. As Russian Railway cancelled their Moscow – Sofia train in December due to low demand, there is now not any single passenger train left between Ukraine and Romania. In southern Ukraine there is a rather large Romanian speaking minority. The town of Czernowitz was the capital of the Duchy of Bukovina (until 1918 part of Austria, until WW2 part of Romania, during WW2 USSR annexed the northern Bukovina including Czernowitz).
So everyone is speaking about integrating Ukraine better with the EU, but in the meantime trains are cancelled. In German we’d say: “Operation gelungen, Patient tot.”
Przewozy Regionalne is a mess of a train company at the best of times. This is entirely as predicted – someone working for PKP Intercity told me a few months ago that she would be shocked if the service lasted until next summer, and it looks like she was proven right.
For example, group tickets to Berlin for just over 500zl return were touted as part of this link. When I tried to buy some (with the applicable discounts for children), it transpired that PR had absolutely no clue – they were able to sell a group ticket for adults, but it seems that no such ticket existed for children. On the other hand, you could obtain a return for 450zl for 5 children on the Berlin-Warszawa-Express without fuss.
Part of the problem is that the Słubice train station is pretty useless for Słubice itself. From taking quite a few PR trains to FFO in the past, it was common for people to buy tickets to the border crossing at Kunowice (gr) – as Przewozy Regionalne simply had no ability to sell tickets from Kunowice (gr) to FFO. In theory, a ticket did and does exist for 10zl from Słubice to FFO – but this was never enforced. As a result, running a train through to Słubice would be pointless.
Simon / Hans / Michael – thank you for all the comments, and further explanations. Makes me think that PL-DE rail is the example area to really work on – to show how the EU rules need to change to make this system actually work a bit better than it does at the moment. That’ll be my task for 2015 I think!
Looks like PR wants to run the trains commercially at weekends:
There’s also a reference to the newly introduced (on 14 Dec) Posen-Ticket, designed to make things simpler and cheaper for the passenger.
Also note that Krakow – Ostrava started on 14 December and ran for the last time on 31 December thanks to the very same short-termism for rail funding in Poland. Absolutely bonkers!
If money does become available in the next few weeks and months, there will be enormous pressure to prioritise the restoration of *domestic services* that have also been cut.
PR and/or a Polish government agency/institution have just tendered out vehicle provision for the continuation of Dresden – Wroclaw services from 1.3. until 12.12.15.
Only DB Regio stands a chance, but shouldn’t assume the Poles will pay any price…
Weekend trains to be restored despite a lack of funding, if this translation is to believed…
Doesn’t quite make sense does it?