CZ/SK verze

“Railways Need More Funding,” Says Andrzej Bittel, Polish Secretary of the Ministry of Infrastructure

“Railways Need More Funding,” Says Andrzej Bittel, Polish Secretary of the Ministry of Infrastructure
photo: RAILTARGET/Andrzej Bittel
29 / 11 / 2023

RAILTARGET presents an exclusive interview with Polish Secretary of the Ministry of Infrastructure Andrzej Bittel. During our conversation, we focused on the topic of Czech-Polish cooperation in transport and the financing of the modernization of railway infrastructure, including high-speed lines.

We're meeting again in Warsaw. How do you assess the Czech-Polish cooperation in transport, which has been a significant part of your role?

As we're in the midst of forming a new government in Poland, I can positively reflect on the past eight years of collaboration in the railway sector. Our cooperation spanned both direct bilateral relations and engagements at the European level. Numerous joint initiatives and strategic issues have been successfully realized, including our collective triumph in revising the European transport network TEN-T. This revision incorporated high-speed rail plans for the Czech Republic, Poland, and Central Europe, representing the Visegrad Group's combined efforts.

Our partnership also proved strong during challenging times, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. We provided exceptional support in transporting refugees and military equipment, which fostered personal relationships among those handling these issues. These ties are invaluable and will underpin future collaborations, irrespective of Poland's new government. Cooperation with the Czech Republic, and within the V4, will remain a priority for any Polish administration.

With inflation and stagnation in European economies, securing funding for modernizing railway infrastructure, including high-speed railways (HSR) and rolling stock, is a major upcoming challenge. How does Poland plan to address this, especially considering potential revenue from emission allowances?

Our strategy involves leveraging all available resources—cohesion funds, CEF, and the National Recovery Plan—aimed at reviving the EU economy post-Covid. It's evident that the current funding levels fall short of what's needed for our ambitious railway plans. We must find additional resources for upgrading railway vehicles, to achieve higher-quality and more environmentally-friendly passenger and cargo transport.

The railway sector requires extra financial support, not just due to the pandemic and the Ukraine conflict, but also because of increased costs stemming from disrupted production chains. Securing additional funding is essential for new developments, and this should be a focus for the future government and candidates in the next European Parliament elections.