Spin Alert in Poland: State Incumbent PKP Intercity Boasts  About ‘Profits’ – but These Are Due to a Gigantic  Increase in Directly Awarded Taxpayer Subsidy

▶ State-owned rail incumbents continue to present themselves as financial success stories – which is deliberately misleading.

▶ This narrative fails to mention the astronomical growth in directly awarded taxpayer subsidy, without which there would be no ‘profit’.

In recent weeks, a Polish examplehas been the most striking. A new article in the publication Rynek Kolejowy shows how the state-owned long-distance operator PKP Intercity (‘PKP IC’) “willingly presents positive financial results obtained in recent years” – with healthy profits since 2016 (except 2020).

▶Yet it also states how – between 2016 and 2023 – PKP Intercity’s operations increased by only 14% whilst its directly awarded subsidy increased by 133%, not even counting the additional 1.3 billion złotys (301 million euros) granted between 2021 and 2023.

▶Therefore, PKP IC’s exclusive subsidy has increased by a massive 254% since 2016 – well above the rise in all other indicators (e.g. inflation and energy costs).

Furthermore, all this increased public funding was not even used properly:

The article also states how, over the same period, the average age of carriages rose from 29.85 to 32.65 years, showing that the additional funds did not boost investment into rolling stock.

Why do state operators pretend they are a success?! – it is political spin. If politicians believe it – and the amount of State Aid in the EU increases – then state-owned operators will lobby for even more of this direct subsidy, without any motivation to become more modern or efficient.

ALLRAIL’s spokesperson for Poland, Katarzyna Dekeyser, says: “in their financial results, state operators must show what part of their ‘profit’ comes from exclusive taxpayer subsidy. EU citizens fund them, and we deserve transparency.