Czech Republic abolishes rail regulator amidst controversies, what’s going on?
The Czech government has supported a bill that will lead to the abolition of the independent Office for Access to Transport Infrastructure (ÚPDI), transferring its tasks to another institution. However, controversies and allegations surround the abolishment, leading back to the previous head of the Office, Pavel Kodym, and a letter to the European Commission about possible illegal actions of Czech state railways, České Dráhy (ČD) in charging costs of land use to the rail infrastructure manager.
Czech Republic: Will the rail regulator be abolished for… doing its job properly?
Last week, Czech media reported the planned abolition of the Czech independent Rail Regulator ÚPDI by the Ministry of Transport. At first glance, the reasons given by the Minister of Transport seem legitimate. However, according Czech press, this decision was allegedly taken after finding out that ÚPDI's President had asked the EU Commission a question about a transaction involving the state incumbent rail operator České dráhy (ČD). This transaction, in which ČD could potentially unfairly profit from renting and selling inherited real estate, would grant ČD an unfair financial advantage in the competitive passenger rail market.
One could ask: could the real reason be that ÚPDI will be abolished be... that it was doing its job properly?
Britain’s long distance rail fares could fall by over 40% by adopting Europe’s proven ‘Third Way’ model
In the ‘Open Access’ long-distance passenger rail model, rail operators are able to set fares, product and frequencies based upon meeting and growing passenger demand, rather than being confined to pre-set fares or timetables specified by Government or transport authorities.
In a growing number of countries, ‘Open Access’ long-distance operators fully compete against each other on the same route, which has led to higher frequencies, lower fares and savings for the taxpayer.
If Britain adopted the 'Open Access' model for long-distance passenger rail, fares could fall by over 40%.
New through-tickets between Kyiv (Ukraine) and Prague (Czech Republic)
Privately owned railway operator and ALLRAIL member RegioJet and Ukrainian Railways (Ukrzaliznytsia) have created a new through-ticket between Prague (Czech Republic) and Kyiv (Ukraine).
The single through-ticket will cover the entire journey between the Czechian and Ukrainian capital cities, via Przemyśl (Poland).
Hindering Fair Access to 2nd Hand Rolling Stock Will Weaken Commercially Driven Long Distance Cross-border Passenger Rail in Europe, Leading to Unnecessary Public Service Obligations (PSOs)
The EU Commission (‘EC’) announced that it had come to the preliminarily conclusion that the state-owned rail incumbents Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) and Czech Railways (ČD) breached EU competition rules by colluding to hinder access to used 2nd hand rolling stock for the commercially driven new entrant cross-border passenger rail operator RegioJet.
But there is a further implication: if the EC’s allegations are true - then hindering access to 2nd hand rolling stock is being used to engineer market failure. New entrant operators are then less able to start commercially driven services, because they are not getting fair access to wagons, and there is very little alternative supply.
Consequently, such engineered ‘Market Failure’ will lead to unnecessary taxpayer-funded Public Service Obligations (PSOs) in long distance cross-border rail.