pomorski park naukowo- technologiczny gdynia

Aleja Zwycięstwa 96/98

81-451 Gdynia


Polish seaports by rail

Recently Polish seaports have been experiencing an investment boom. There is ongoing work on an upgrade of the embankments, improving access from the sea, as well as the land access to ports - which is of utmost importance – with a special emphasis being placed in this regard on rail projects. The aim of the investments to the value of PLN 3.2 billion is to upgrade the railway access to the seaports at Gdańsk and Gdynia. The EU co-financing from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), makes up nearly 40% of that amount. The same financial instrument is used for co-financing the investment, worth in fact less than PLN 1.5 billion, which aims to improve the railway access to the ports at Szczecin and Świnoujście. The work continues without interruptions despite of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It is our intention, by 2027, to service not less than 40% of cargo arriving in our port by rail. This objective is documented in our Growth and Development Strategy and we will do our best to fulfil it,” states Adam Meller, the President of the Managing Board of the Port of Gdynia Authority.

However, for the rail freight transport companies operating in the Polish market, the year 2019 didn’t look like it was off to a promising start since its very beginning. Following a very successful year 2018, when - let us recall - they transported more than 250 million tonnes of cargo (the best result in 6 years), in relation to 2017, the first worrying signs began to appear. In January 2019 the total mass of transported freight has decreased by 5.69% in comparison to similar results of the past 12 months. This inauspicious trend continued until December, when nearly a 9% drop in the total mass of transported freight was noted. The figures for January and February 2020, released by the Office of Rail Transport, confirmed that trend. The mass of transported freight dropped respectively by nearly 13% and 5% y/y.

While rail freight transport has been grappling with a drop in operations, the intermodal transport has been recording regular growth increases, with regard to the numbers of transported containers. This auspicious trend is confirmed by the Office of Rail Transport figures for year 2019. Last year the Polish intermodal transport operations have reached a level of nearly 2.14 million TEU, and their rail market share increased up to 8.25% with regard to mass. It should be stressed, that these good results have been achieved by intermodal transport operators despite the ongoing problems with network capacity and the low average speed of freight trains. In Poland it is limited to approx. 25 km/h, whereas in Western Europe it is 50-70 km/h. The objective which has been set years ago, to increase this speed limit to 40 km/h, remains a wish that is still to be granted.

In my opinion, the problem lies in the fact that the railway projects were being developed in very different conditions. The process of investment takes a very long time, which is why we end up implementing ideas that were developed 10 years ago, under completely different circumstances. They don’t take into account the new economic reality or the dynamic economic growth. Cost reduction, rather than an increase in revenue has been a priority for the railways for the past 20 years. Whereas in the transport sector, the situation is the exact opposite. It is evident for example, with regard to motorways, where there is talk of the need for the construction of an additional 3rd lane, since 2 are not sufficient. And in the railway sector, we are still building something, that at its best, recreates the existing infrastructure, but does not leave room for further development. We use a past model to upgrade and modernize our railways and we wonder at the low rate of growth dynamics,” states Jakub Majewski, President of the Pro Kolej Foundation.

Article developed with "Namiary na Morze i Handel" magazine

phot. Namiary na Morze i Handel


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