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
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
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