CZ/SK verze

Analysis: Dramatic Decline in Freight Transport in Poland as Transport Distances Increase

Analysis: Dramatic Decline in Freight Transport in Poland as Transport Distances Increase
photo: PKP Cargo / Public domain/PKP Cargo
13 / 03 / 2024

The volume of rail freight transport in Poland has experienced a significant decline.

According to data from the Polish Office of Rail Transport (UTK), the volume of rail freight transport in Poland decreased by 7.3 percent last year. The volume of shipments last year reached 231.7 million tonnes, and the transport capacity fell by 1.4 percent year-on-year to 61,598 million tonne-kilometers. The average transport distance rose by less than 6 percent to 265.9 km last year.

PKP Cargo S.A. remains the leader of the intermodal transport market (by transport volume) with a share of 31.35 percent. The current government, already in opposition, warned that the national freight carrier is continuously losing its position in the domestic market, in particular. PKP Cargo's trade unions have warned of the risk of the company's insolvency. Recently, the Supervisory Board suspended the Chairman of the Management Board, Dariusz Seliga. Deutsche Bahn's subsidiary, DB Cargo Polska S.A., achieved a market share of 14.98% in Poland.

Several reasons account for the decline, with rail freight often being the first indicator of falling demand in the economy. Traditionally, Poland has managed to cope better with weakening economic trends in Europe, and economic recovery has usually been swift. This time, however, several factors are at play, the most significant being the slowdown in economic growth in Poland (GDP is now on the brink of technical stagnation), the decline in fuel shipments due to reduced energy consumption, the slowdown in industrial production and construction, and the broader implications of the Russian war in Ukraine. The trade press in Poland also points to deeper structural causes, such as the shortage of drivers and the railways' uncompetitiveness compared to road transport.

This year is not expected to be favorable either: recovery could come in the year's second half at the earliest. In contrast, passenger transport in Poland is showing positive results, with the number of passengers carried per km increasing by 7%.