Govtech: Brainstorming ideas to improve train service

PM Mateusz Morawiecki seeks ideas at a public brainstorming session for the Polish train network, which is having a difficult time spending PLN 100 bn of funding earmarked before 2023.

“We want to use even the boldest ideas for how the network can interact with other forms of locomotion,” said Mr Morawiecki opening the session.

The initiative was sponsored by the Polish Railway Company (PKP) along with Govtech, a scheme which encourages the adoption of innovative solutions to seemingly intransigent problems faced by institutions in the public sphere.

PM Morawiecki described the initiative as an attempt to “democratise the system of government administration.”

A group of 45 people were chosen from the 150 who applied to the Govtech scheme, and have been divided into teams who will come up with ideas for making train travel more comfortable.

New ideas boosting passenger numbers

Though the average Pole makes only eight train journeys per year, compared to an average of 15 in the EU, after many years of decline, rail passenger numbers are picking up. The upturn is thought to be due to upgrades in trains, and cheaper pricing initiatives, such as the “joint ticket’ which gives incentive pricing for passengers who travel longer distances and take connecting trains.

“Everyone in the EU told us it was not possible to arrange a joint ticket, but we managed it’ Mr Morawiecki said.

Poland has ambitious modernisation plans for its railway network, taking advantage of the prioritisation of funding for rail projects within the EU. However, many projects are behind schedule, due to difficulties in tendering public works, during a building boom, according to the “Rzeczpospolita” daily. There is a danger that approximately PLN 100 bn (EUR 22.9 bn) EU funding for projects may be lost if work does not get underway before the end of the 2014- 2020 budgeting period, due to lack of bids for tenders.

Budgets for infrastructure project tenders are not keeping up with the spiralling costs of labour and materials.