CZ/SK verze

"EU Funding Is Crucial for Modernization and Construction of Rail Lines," Says Paulina Matysiak, Member of the Polish Sejm

&quote;EU Funding Is Crucial for Modernization and Construction of Rail Lines,&quote; Says Paulina Matysiak, Member of the Polish Sejm
photo: RAILTARGET/Paulina Matysiak
23 / 11 / 2023

RAILTARGET presents an exclusive interview with Polish politician Paulina Matysiak, a member of the Lewica Razem party and also of the Polish Sejm. In the interview, we focused on the topic of public transport. However, MP Matysiak also commented on future cooperation between Poland and the Czech Republic.

Congratulations on the election results for the Sejm and to your party, which is now entering coalition talks aimed at forming a new government in Poland. You have mainly focused on public transport. What improvements do you plan to make in public transport in Poland, and what changes can we expect in cooperation with the Czech Republic?

Specifically, I can mention what we have prepared in the coalition agreement. For all the groupings that will form the future government, transport, and public transport is a big priority. The key will be the use of European funds, but also national budget funds for the modernization and construction of railway lines. We aim to create a unified system for the sale of travel documents, integration into a unified ticket, and a single search engine for transport connections. Therefore, we will need to amend the law to be able to unify the various already existing discount systems, as we do not have uniform discounts for railways and public bus transport. We also want to address the significant problem in regions and places where public transport does not run at all. The pandemic has had a very negative impact on local public transport, especially buses.

However, it is necessary to positively evaluate the existing government programs, which we want to continue. We have a central fund for public bus transport, which we will continue. In cooperation with local municipalities, the government program "Railways +" is running, enabling revitalization of sections of the regional railway infrastructure based on requests from municipalities and their financial participation. The program is running, the first contracts are being signed, and I think we will continue.

Your party introduced the concept of citizen exclusion due to a lack of mobility into the public discourse. Aren't you worried that as a result of implementing the Green Deal, transport will become even more inaccessible or, on the contrary, do you believe that it will be possible to refinance transport from the proceeds of emission allowances?

We discussed a lot about the issue of excluding citizens from rail and bus transport. In the past election period, as a member of parliament, I created a parliamentary and expert forum against transport exclusion. This forum will be convened again by the new Sejm, and MPs from across political parties who are close to the topic will once again work in it. The key will be not to fear the Green Deal but to use it as a chance to shape better public transport. In Poland, the absence of public transport in many parts makes it necessary for people to have their own cars, so that parents can each drive to their jobs, take their children to school or to clubs of interest. Citizens cannot live like this under any circumstances. We are convinced that access to public transport is one of the basic public services that makes it possible to use the rights enshrined in Poland's constitution at all. Therefore, public transport is a key issue.

In the election campaign, your party demanded a "post-election cleanup" after the ruling Law and Justice party. What is the biggest problem in this matter? Will high-speed rail remain on the agenda, and will there be an inventory of the project?

Yes, we will be reviewing contracts that have already been concluded and those that are in the pipeline. As the Left Party, we have clearly stated our intent to develop the rail network as part of the CPK (Central Point of Communication, airport + high-speed rail network) project. In the coalition, we have agreed not to support the new airport project. However, new arguments are emerging in public discourse. Personally, I don't have a strong position, but perhaps relocating the airport outside Warsaw isn't a bad idea. What is certain, though, is that Poland needs a network of high-speed railways for quick travel between major Polish cities. This type of rail infrastructure exists in many countries in Europe and beyond. The Polish people deserve high-speed rail; it will be an element of modernizing our country, and I believe I will live to see it and even ride such a train.

There are two planned connections from Poland to the Czech Republic, which is why I inquired about the continuation of the project.

We are also considering connections to other countries, like Rail Baltica. We have these sections included in the European TEN-T transport network. Now, we need to proceed prudently, cooperate with each other in Central Europe, and calm the debate after the elections, as there was a lot of emotion regarding the CPK project.

I wish you a successful transition from opposition to government and thank you for the interview.