CZ/SK verze

The former Minister of Transport evaluates the changes in České dráhy (ČD): The rescue of ČD Cargo was Bednárik's masterpiece.

The former Minister of Transport evaluates the changes in České dráhy (ČD): The rescue of ČD Cargo was Bednárik's masterpiece.
photo: former Minister of Transport
04 / 12 / 2020

Our redaction brings you an interview with former Minister of Transport Zdeněk Žák.

How do you evaluate the current situation of České dráhy and how do you perceive that the current head of České dráhy will be replaced by Ivan Bednárik?

As critical. České dráhy, i.e. its management, did not find a recipe on how to succeed in the controversial state policy in competition sub-sessions and did not even find enough arguments to convinced political elites of the necessity and strategic importance (for the stability of the whole transport system and as a reference source information on the economics of operation for the ability of the state to set the optimal parameters for the market environment) in keeping the national, if I may say a flag carrier in the Czech Republic.

Even worse is the view of the economic situation when the previous  management that was lulled by the fragile financial near-stability and surfed on a temporary wave of soaring demand in transport services.

The imaginary train completely passed České dráhy even in the most progressive segment of the passenger transport services market, namely smart suburban transportation.

The two waves of anti-epidemic measures have only accelerated the steepness of the fall from a rather PR virtual success and competitiveness of the company (let us not forget to include history of repeated hidden  financial injections from the state – in the form of sale of free acquired property back to the state – and unprecedented incentives on fares) to an abyss of deep economic crisis and crisis of marketing invention.

How do you evaluate the current work of Ivan Bednárik at the head of ČD Cargo?

If we evaluate the facts regardless of sympathy or antipathy, we must state the mere fact that he saved ČD Cargo from generally expected bankruptcy or alternative humiliation of being sold "below cost". And he returned ČD Cargo to the role of a serious competitor in the services market in freight transport. Undoubtedly, therefore, he made good as a crisis manager.

In your opinion, what will be the main tasks and challenges for Ivan Bednárik as the new head of České dráhy?

I am afraid that the choice fell on Mr. Bednárik, not for a reason of sudden enlightenment of the elites now ruling the transport ministry. And from this enlightenment arisen  impending return to personnel policy based on the commitment of proven successful and capable

professionals. I see it more as an act of despair from realisation where they managed to get České dráhy and the effort to save themselves and perhaps to stand by the impending trouble and its consequences.

The challenge for Mr. Bednárik will therefore not only be to repeat his Cargo "masterpiece" in rescuing ČD, but also maneuvering minefield of difficult cooperation with personnel disruption completely the devastated Ministry of Transport and its affiliated appendices.

He will have to deal with a curious threat. Not to be dismissed before the forthcoming elections either as a person who did not manage the situation and is blamed for everything bad or vice versa as a person, who fulfilled the role of a blackamoor, who did dirty work and the leadership of a thriving business will once again be captured as juicy political cronyism.

So there is hope here, and I keep my fingers crossed not only for Mr. Bednárik, but also in fact, for all of us, to be his risk management mission successful.