CZ/SK verze

"Czech Railways Have Much to Show the World," Said Martin Kupka at Rail Business Days

&quote;Czech Railways Have Much to Show the World,&quote; Said Martin Kupka at Rail Business Days
photo: RAILTARGET/Martin Kupka, Czech Transport Minister
24 / 06 / 2024

Czech Transport Minister Martin Kupka, in an interview with RAILTARGET at the Rail Business Days fair, emphasized the significance of Czech technological innovations. He also praised the arrival of the legendary train Slovenská strela, which was presented at the fair by DAKO-CZ.

Today we are meeting at a sort of celebration of Czech railways, specifically at the Rail Business Days fair in Ostrava. How do you perceive this fair and the atmosphere here? People are literally stopping you at every step.

I must say it is a very pleasant opportunity to look at the latest trends in technology. It is also a natural opportunity for the railway community to gather in one place and exchange information about what is happening beyond our borders. What is important to me is that several significant innovations have been introduced. Probably the most notable is the premiere of the battery train unit for the Moravian-Silesian Region in the colors of Czech Railways. Moreover, it is a product that is Czech, with Czech know-how, and it could herald another breakthrough for Czech technology and Czech battery technology in foreign markets.

One of the presentations here was by ČD Cargo, which introduced its Vectron locomotive. How did you like this locomotive, and how do you perceive the possibility that ČD Cargo, through this locomotive, can expand into other foreign countries such as the Netherlands?

It is an important aid because the four-system locomotive really enables movement as far as Belgium and the Netherlands, which is a complex discipline in the railway world. This locomotive makes it possible. We know that more than 70% of all railway transport happens across borders, so an interoperable locomotive is a tremendous help in this regard. What I particularly appreciate is that this locomotive, like others in this series, will bear the name of one of the greats of Czech railway history. In the case of this locomotive we introduced here, it is Jan Perner, probably the most significant railway builder in the Czech lands. In the first half of the 19th century, he built the main railway axes from Vienna through Brno, Česká Třebová, and into Prague. We still build upon Jan Perner's work today, who tragically died. The fact that the locomotives will bear a reminder of this history, I see as a significant contribution to national identity and pride. We are a nation that often lacks self-confidence, and the reminder of a famous personality in Czech railway, moreover, a personality that played an important role even in international comparison, I consider a nice gesture and a contribution to us being proud not only of hockey but also of how we manage railway transport in the Czech Republic.

In your opening speech, you said, "He who does not know history does not understand the present." When we look at the expansion of ČD Cargo, which is crucial due to changes in the railway market, do you think it is also an economic factor that can help restart the entire sector, which is now changing very dynamically?

Undoubtedly, expansion into neighboring countries now represents another pillar on which ČD Cargo can rely to increase its profit. It is true that it can also show the way for other carriers. For freight railway transport, we live in an extremely sensitive time. Railway freight transport is losing key commodities, especially the transport of coal, which has decreased to a quarter over the last five years. It is likely that this trend will continue, and railway freight transport will seek other opportunities for its use. It will be a time full of opportunities but also extraordinary stress for all carriers. I hope that the Rail Business Days fair, which is a sort of railway festival, will mean significant support for them.

You recently inspected the technical vehicle of the Railway Administration. How did you like it?

It is probably a necessary condition for us to be able to effectively repair and maintain traction lines. It is a specialized vehicle that is produced in a relatively small series. In the Czech Republic, it will be able to serve in several regions, and, indeed, regular maintenance of the traction lines is also an important condition for a functional and reliable railway.

To not forget passenger transport, tomorrow, the ComfortJet will run on Czech tracks for the first time, in which passengers will be able to travel. What would you wish for its first kilometers?

Mainly kilometers without any accidents. I think that is what Czech Railways also need to hear, that it still remains one of the safest modes of transport and that it will attract more and more passengers in the future. I hope that railway transport will always be safe travel.

At this fair, the public can also see the legendary train Slovenská strela. Do you think that such legendary trains can attract the public to railways and help with popularization?

Slovenská strela is truly a technological and design phenomenon. It is a beautiful Gesamtkunstwerk, and in this regard, I would also like to remind everyone that the Czech lands, both historically and today, can boast world-class railway technology. Ultimately, the premiere of the battery unit shows that we are keeping pace with technological competitors in neighboring countries. In the case of Slovenská strela, it was a unique display of the skill and technical prowess of the engineers from the First Republic, and I would be pleased if, in time, perhaps a hundred years from now, people spoke in the same way about what is now growing and being created in Czech companies.

My last question. Many Czech and Slovak companies, as well as companies from abroad, are presenting at the fair. When you see the bustle at the fair and the many visitors and presentations taking place, are you proud of the Czech industry and the Czech railway community?

I am. Of course, everything has its flaws. Everything has its hiccups, but the fact that there is a positive atmosphere here. People are looking forward, thinking about how to do things, not how not to do things. That is an important message for the mood of the whole society.