Friday, 25 November 2011

New train timetables - Radom line warning

Thursday's Gazeta Stołeczna carried an article that filled me with dread. The last two paragraphs of this piece. The paper has seen the new railway timetables that come into force on 11 December (long-time readers of this blog will know that the introduction of new timetables mean chaos on the tracks at the best of times). For commuters coming into Warsaw along the line from Radom (calling at Warka, Czachówek, Zalesie Górne, Piaseczno and Nowa Iwiczna) the news sounds ominous. From four trains in the peak morning rush hour between 7:00 and 8:00 to two.

Well, let's not take news at face value and compare the new and old timetables:

Old - departures from Piaseczno to Warsaw (Koleje Mazowieckie)
6:15 - 6:46 - 7:03 - 7:20 - 7:33 - 7:51 - 8:40 - 8:57

New - departures from Piaseczno to Warsaw
6:06 - 6:41 - 6:56 - 7:11 - 7:35 - 8:19 - 8:38 - 8:59

Well, on paper, all eight departures between 6:00 and 9:00 are still there, though spread out more. Indeed, between 7:00 and 8:00 there are only two trains, but the number of trains between six and seven and between eight and nine have been increased from two to three each. So a bit of alarmism, but even so, that gap between the 7:35 and the 8:19 service is way too great. That train will be utterly packed.

Fewer trains to town?

To make matters worse, the semi-fast services from Radom and beyond to Warsaw are also being scaled back. In a letter to the Radom edition of Gazeta Wyborcza, users of the TLK and Interregio trains into Warsaw complain about chronic delays, overcrowding, ancient rolling stock - and now, curtailments of services in the new timetable. The final paragraph warns that desperate passengers will take to blocking the tracks.

Once again, we see mixed signals. On the one hand, Warsaw's authorities are clearly trying to wean the populace from driving into town in private cars. On the other, cash-strapped local and regional authorities are unable to dip into their budgets to support rail services. What are people from Piaseczno to do? Between 7 and 8am, there are just ten buses from Piaseczno to Warsaw. Given that each is able to take around 200 passengers, standing and sitting - that's a mere 2,000 Sand City dwellers that have that option. Plus, as we know, ul. Puławska is one solid mass of near-stationary traffic at that time.

No one seems to care. ZTM is not fussed that Koleje Mazowieckie can't cope; Koleje Mazowieckie doesn't care that Przewozy Regionalne and InterCity's TLK services are being cut; the city authorities are in no hurry to paint bus lanes down Puławska, or to provide a cycle path alongside the roadway - so what happens? People continue to drive to work, or at least to drive to the three Park+Rides at Stokłosy, Ursynów and Wilanowska Metro stations (room for 556 cars).

I find it inconceivable that rail services are being trimmed back. Bear in mind that a single six-carriage set of EN57 stock can take 1,360 passengers (as many as seven buses or around 900 cars assuming 1.5 passengers per car), trains really are the optimal form of travel.

Looking at an analogous commuter railway service in the UK, Slough to London Paddington, there are currently seven local trains leaving the town for the capital between 7:00 and 8:00am. As six-car sets, these trains can carry around 800 passengers in (slightly) greater comfort and much higher speeds than the half-century old Polish commuter trains.

Joined-up government is needed. Warsaw needs workers. People come into the capital each day from Radom (100km away), even Łódź (135km) as well as many nearer satellite towns. Merely leaving clogged-up truck roads, beset with roadworks, to act as conduits that get the Warsaw's economy moving and shrugging shoulders at the inertia on the railways, is irresponsible. Frustrated workers are not productive workers.

* Between 7:00 and 8:00, public transport can move a mere 4,800 people from Piaseczno into town, assuming that no one boards the bus or train at intermediate places like Nowa Iwiczna, Mysiadło, Dąbrówka, Jeziorki, Pyry or Dawidy. That really is pathetic.

This time last year:
London notes

This time two years ago:
Silent and Unseen - in your bookshops now

This time three years ago:
Frustrated by ul. Puławska - rat-run absurdity

This time four years ago:
Some thoughts on recycling


Anonymous said...

Word up !!

student SGH said...

This is absolutely appalling!

Given the rising petrol prices and cut back rail services commuting might become a veritable hell.

And how come only six Warsaw-bound buses run between 7:00 and 8:00? ZTM timetable tells me there are nine 709 ones and there are surely some two 727 ones. Anyway, traffic's got some worse in the morning - this Friday the anti-social (working on it - whenever I can, I try to give somebody a lift) activity of keeping my arse warm in my car took me 50 minutes (normally I would get from home to P&R Wilanowska within 30 minutes), but in the afternoon traffic is bearable - I covering the same distance to NI takes me some 20 minutes (between 18:00 and 19:00). Anyway I don't think traffic density on ul. Puławska would jump. Those who drive will drive anyway, those who commute by train would keep on doing so.

Plus note that rising fuel prices have not reduced traffic jams. Demand elasticity is here very low, as I said long ago.

Michael Dembinski said...

@ Bartek -

You're right - I forgot to search the timetable according to the weekday schedule.Monday morning, departing from, say, Lamina or Energetyczna, ten buses (eight 709s and two 727s)between 7 and 8.

Interestingly, in the hour before (between 6 and 7), there's a massive 19 buses heading towards Warsaw, all but two being 709s.

Get closer to town, say, Karczunkowska, from where the 709s and 727s are joined by 739s, 715s, 209s and 319s, the the peak hour northbound sees a staggering 24 buses between 6 and 7.

I'm surprised that there are far more buses between 6 and 7 than between 7 and 8. Presumably the authorities are convinced that the white collar workers going to work for 9am rather than 7am will always shun the bus...

White Horse Pilgrim said...

What a mess. Why aren't businesses creating a noise about the difficulty of getting workers?

Thinking of your analogy: soon Slough will be getting Crossrail with longer (ten car) trains and a direct service to central London and Docklands. There is considerable debate over here about incraesing rail capacity.

But at least your trains aren't run by Scottish bus bandit shysters.

Michael Dembinski said...

@ WHP - happy Slough!

Meanwhile, here the "Scottish bus bandits" are doing a phenomenal job shaking up Poland's long-distance bus business. With low fares, online booking, new buses featuring power plugs for every seat and wi-fi, is running full buses to 26 destinations in Poland and central Europe. also threatens the railways by offering the long-distance passenger some real competition.

Paddy said...

Michael why don't you/we/others set up an online petition for a bus lane on Pulawska... Bit of pushing publicity and it should gain critical mass. People power?