rail transport l interview l Ministry of Transport of the Czech Republic

p There are efforts to move

part of passenger and freight

transport to rail, is the railway

infrastructure ready for this today?

In some respects yes, but for the most part

not yet. We therefore expect the implementation of a number of projects that

aim to either reduce travel time or increase capacity. However, shifting the load

is not only a question of the existing adequate infrastructure, but also a combination of price, comfort, and market demand

for the change by the transport and commodity segments.

p According to my information,

the schedule of passenger and

freight rail transport is relatively

full and passenger transport

prevails over freight. Who

actually has the sharper elbows

and why?

The rules for schedule preparation and

traffic control are given by EU regulations,

the Railways Act, and the implementation

decree (Rail Traffic Regulations), as well

as the operational regulations of Správa

železnic (Railway Administration). Yes, infrastructure capacity in the main corridors

is a problem that is being addressed not

only in the Czech Republic. The basic reason is the different requirements for the

operation of passenger and freight trains.

While passenger transport usually requires the highest possible frequency of trains and the use of maximum speed, freight

transport needs to run smoothly using heavier and longer trains, if possible throughout the day.

For example, a basic problem arises when

creating timetables, because while the times of passenger trains can be accurately

predicted, for example, a year in advance,

freight trains operate on a different principle and their timetable is based on customer

demand. In many cases, it is quite common

that a freight train needs to be planned less

than a day in advance. Such ad-hoc trains

then obviously have the lowest priority

when creating the timetable, which can be

seen in particular in cases of reduced track

capacity during diversions. However, the

solution cannot be a strict requirement for

a regular schedule of freight trains throughout the year. This could lead to a shift

of transport to the roads, which can flexibly respond to customer demand. It is therefore necessary to focus investment programmes on infrastructure capacity increase

on the main lines.

From an operational point of view, a new

capacity allocation system is being prepared at the European level, i.e. a system

that should better respond to the requirements of freight transport, among other


p Private carriers also have

a problem with prioritisation,

is it harder for them compared

to state carriers?

It is out of the question to talk about prioritising someone now that we have full separation of fixed infrastructure and train

operation in the Czech Republic. The allocation of capacity and traffic management

is therefore completely independent of the

operation of rail transport. On the European scale, the Czech Republic was one

of the first countries in which legislation

has allowed non-state carriers onto stateowned railway infrastructure by the Railways Act 1995. At present, more than 100

carriers operate on Czech tracks, many

of which are from abroad.

p What is the situation

of current investments into rail

infrastructure? Can a more

substantial change in investment

be expected during the COVID


We will do everything to ensure that the

COVID outbreak has minimal consequences for our investment policy. We are currently starting to create a draft SFDI (the

State Fund for Transport Infrastructure)

budget for 2021. Správa železnic (Railway

Administration) is well prepared for this

year in terms of readiness of its projects;

now, the debate with the Ministry of Finance will be important for us.

p What strategy does the

Ministry of Transport have to

support manufacturing companies

in the railway industry sector in

the new crisis situation?

Support for manufacturing companies actually comes under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, or the Ministry of Labour

and Social Affairs. Therefore, we have an

ambition to respond to demand for the

implementation of railway transport construction projects by maintaining a pro-investment policy, thus stimulating construction companies. I think the increased

SFDI budget of more than 114 billion for

this year is a clear signal.

p A state subsidy for bank

engines to relieve the railway

corridor is being considered.

How is this question currently

being addressed?

Yes. This is a requirement by freight carriers and its practical implementation is entrusted to Správa železnic (Railway Administration). The aim is to make the parallel