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The Warsaw Voice » Other » February 6, 2008
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Full Steam Ahead
February 6, 2008   
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Czesław Warsewicz, chief executive officer of PKP Intercity, talks to Michał Jeziorski.

Last year was exceptionally successful for the Polish economy. How did PKP Intercity benefit from this?
This was the best year in the history of PKP Intercity, with a record number of passengers and a record profit. Our success resulted from several factors, including a range of well-planned transport services and an extensive network of connections. Our train schedules meet the needs of passengers and we keep improving our services in keeping with our mission. Last year our trains transported more than 11.5 million passengers, 1 million more than in 2006.

These excellent numbers led to good financial results, with a record zl.50 million in net profit. The company is growing at a fast rate.

Another important indicator is the volume of investment. In 2007, PKP Intercity spent zl.200 million on rolling stock and the development of its customer service system. In June we opened a VIP zone at the warszawa-Centralna station in Warsaw-a luxury lounge for Intercity passengers holding first-class tickets. The air-conditioned room offers internet access, TV news, press, tea and coffee. This is the first such service in Poland. The passengers received it very well, and so this year we will open three more such lounges, in Poznań, Gdańsk and Wrocław. And this is just one part of the company's strategy for development and modernization of the Polish railways.

Last year was a time of big investment for your company. Are your plans for the following years equally ambitious?
We are carrying out what is the biggest investment program in the company's history. This will mostly involve spending money on rolling stock. We invested zl.180 million last year, nearly 50 percent more than in 2006. We are consistently upgrading our trains and introducing uniform quality standards. We are also completing a tender for the purchase of 10 modern multi-system locomotives and are preparing to buy 20 multiple-unit trains that will travel at over 200 kph on lines that have already been modernized or will undergo modernization soon. As a result, travel comfort will increase and journeys will be shorter. For example, it will take only three hours to get from Warsaw to Gdańsk. We will also buy more traditional train cars and modernize those already in service.

Investment in pre- and post-sale services is just as important. We are improving our customer service system and opening modern customer service centers. Last year we launched such centers in Poznań, Wrocław and Szczecin, and this January we opened new centers in Warsaw and at the main station in Gdańsk. We also plan to launch an Intercity infoline, develop a loyalty program and online sales, and install automatic information equipment and plasma displays at railway stations to provide information on train connections, arrival and departure times and schedule changes.

PKP Intercity wants to be listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange later this year. Is that because you need funds for development?
Over the next three yeas, we plan to invest a total of zl.2.7 billion. All the investment projects so far have been financed from the company's own funds, but in order to implement such a wide-ranging investment plan, we will need external funding. We want to raise a significant amount of funds on the stock exchange. We are entering the trading floor without any fear, as we have a transparent investment plan and a well-designed development strategy. We have proved that there is room for further dynamic development and that we can make good money in this business. However, we want to diversify our sources of financing. We want to raise some zl.500 million on the stock market and the rest will come from our own funds and from other financial institutions. We also want to secure European Union funding.

Why is travel by train better than travel by car or plane?
The railways offer you travel safety and the certainty that you will reach your destination. The train is the safest means of transportation. Modern train cars offer high travel comfort. While on the train, you can work, read or sleep, which is impossible when you're driving. Also, trains are not affected by traffic jams. In addition, rail is the cheapest means of transportation, and given the growing prices of gasoline it will remain so for a long time to come. Another advantage is that there is no pollution. All new train cars have modern toilet systems and meet EU environmental standards.

Moreover, the railways are less affected by bad weather: foggy or cloudy skies do not obstruct our operations. Railway stations, unlike airports, are located in city centers, so you don't waste your time traveling between the city center and the suburbs. The railways have a lot to offer and we are glad that our passengers have noticed that. They are increasingly choosing to travel by train.
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