Polish State Railways (PKP) launched a network of high-speed trains last December, linking many of the country’s key cities.
The swish, Italian-built Pendolinos were acquired a cost of €400 million with European Union funding of €93 million, according to EU expert Jon Worth.
But the EU provided the funding on condition that the new trains be restricted to domestic routes for the first ten years of service.
This matters because rail links between Poland, Germany and vice versa declined during the Communist era. Whereas other countries restored and improved their links, funding problems are causing those between Germany and Poland to decline.
For example, the important city of Wroclaw (formerly Breslau) now has no rail links at all with Germany, Worth said. While the service from Berlin to Szeczecin, the Baltic seaport previously named Stettin, is slow and erratic.
German rail operator Deutsche Bahn (DB) is not abandoning services altogether. Its trains will be replaced by DB’s own fleet of buses which are now taking over from costly-to-operate train services.
DB is becoming a significant bus operator (see news, December 3).
New Pendolinos would surely boost the appeal of rail travel between Poland and Germany and make journey times faster.
This lack of rail service is all the more surprising given the volume of trade and communications between the two countries.
Yes, there are flights linking the two countries but between some city pairs air service is both limited and expensive.
Politicians are telling Europeans that we live the age of the train. Perhaps this remains true in other areas of the Europe, but certainly not in the case of Germany and Poland.