Monday, 4 June 2012

Transport - Poland's development

Flying back from Rysiek's wedding, Adam observed that for most of the time he's been living in Poland, the country has been one great work-in-progress. Finally, he says, it's starting to come right, with the balance of the work now having been completed and only the minority of work still ongoing. An insight worthy of sharing.

The stark deadline for the completion of major infrastructure projects - the first match of the Euro 2012 football championships this coming Friday - has spurred Poland to unprecedented deeds when it comes to infrastructure provision. To my amazement, the A2 motorway has connected Poznań and Łódź to Warsaw. Okęcie airport finally gets a rail link. I've heard this - but don't believe it having been there just a few weeks ago - that Wrocław's main station is reopened, it's remont complete. As is W-wa Wschodnia. And W-wa Zachodnia, my tip for the worst railway station in Poland - now has new electronic signage, shelters and other cosmetic improvements that have dramatically improved user-friendliness.

Below: the new terminal at Gdańsk airport. Google Earth currently has imagery of the terminal from April last year - a muddy building site.

My first flight with OLT Express. I'm impressed. For 149.50 złotys, I'm in Warsaw in 40 minutes (another 40 minutes for check-in, plus 25 minutes bus from town, and 25 mins from Okęcie to Warsaw city centre). This compares to PKP InterCity fares - 122.50 złotys second class, or 160.50 złotys first class, for a journey of five and half hours. You get to chose your seat (not the elbow-bruising rush for best seats on other low-costs) and (!) you get a sandwich and drink on board - for free! Plus - the plane took off and landed on time. How long this will last, I can't say. But my first impressions of OLT Express were extremely favourable.

Below: flying out of Gdańsk; the ribbon in the foreground is the S6 expressway that forms the backbone of the Tri-City and now connects it with the A1 motorway, and down to Toruń, eventually through Łódź and on to Silesia and the Czech Republic. Eventually.

Yes, while much has been achieved, there's still much to be done. The S2 Warsaw Southern Bypass, visible on final approach to Warsaw Okęcie airport. Look at it! How puny, how thin - a mere two lanes! What were the planners thinking? Warsaw's a city the size of Birmingham (UK) - the M6 motorway that runs through it is one solid traffic jam for much of the working day and that carries three lanes in each direction and has a by-pass. The S2 is the main road linking Berlin and Moscow! And going through Warsaw, the largest city in 900km - just two lanes...

Below: another success - re-opened last week, Warsaw's Wschodnia (Eastern) station. The contrast between the old one - full of beggars and reeking of kebab, stale sweat, urine and cheap disinfectant - is just staggering. Suddenly, this part of Warsaw becomes modern and civilised, travel becomes more comfortable.

Below: finally, a shot from Warsaw Central station (looking up at Platform Two from the underground passage linking it to W-wa Śródmieście station). Behold; and worship at The Electrick Tabernackle of Modernitee. Time to stop and contemplate Time itself.

7 comments:

toyah said...

Have you heard that the people who built your stadium have gone bankrupt? Do you know what it means on the very personal level?

Michael Dembinski said...

MY stadium?

When our house was being being built, the subcontractor doing the finishing work was also employed to fit out the Hyatt hotel in Warsaw. He too did not get paid, so he could not pay his workers. They in turn broke into our as yet unfinished house and stole radiators, kitchen and bathroom fittings and other items. The cost - in terms of delay to our moving in - was painful, especially since I was out of work at that time.

Terezjusz said...

The main railway station in Wrocław is reopened, but its “remont” by no means complete. I was there yesterday and there were lots of workers all around. A lot of hustle and bustle to make it really “complete”. At one moment I almost tripped on some cable. I suppose that if it were in the USA a good lawyer could get me compensation for that as I don’t remember any “Work in progress” signs. In some places water was leaking from the ceiling. The change is impressive though.

AndrzejK said...

@Toyah. Sorry to dissapoint you but the bankrupcy of construction companies is a world wide phenomenon and not just peculiar to Poland. If you read any basic economics textbook (I suggest Richard Lipsey) you will know how the markets operate. In a rising market new players are attracted by higher profits, drive down prices and eventually equilibrium is achieved for a time. In a falling market prices continue to fall and those with the highest cost base are eliminated. The problem with construction is that in a contracting market suppliers reduce prices below cost and by the nature of the fact that contracts are long term suffer the consequences. No one has yet invented a better system. Certainly central planning does NOT work. The role of government is to try to eliminate market distortions and monopolies and create as efficient a safety blanket as possible within cost constraints. AND I AM SICK AND TIRED OF PiS ATTACKS ON POLAND'S SUCCESS STORY. Michal, apologies once again but these things need to be said. For those who still believe in central planning I am sure that North Korea and Bielarus would welcome with open arms (actually probably not).

sportif said...

@toyah
tak jak Andrzej napisał, upadek nawet dużych firm, to nie jest tylko polska przypadłość. Jeśli jesteśmy już przy stadionach, to pamiętam co się działo w Londynie z budową nowego Wembley. Australijski inwestor się "przekręcił" i budowa stanęła, media prześcigały się w informowaniu o kolejnych sensacjach z tym związanych, kto ma dokończyć budowę i czy w ogóle będzie to możliwe. Poślizg czasowy był tak duży, że stacje Wembley Park i Wembley Stadium po modernizacji zdążyły się lekko zestarzeć.

Anonymous said...

Michael,

Thanks for the info on Gdansk airport, I'm flying in and out of there next month and wondered how it was doing.

Kevin said...
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