czwartek, 17 lutego 2011

Travelling by train in Poland

I start to get e-mails with some questions about Poland and I decided to be answering general ones here.
The first question was about... trains :-)
It's one of my favourites.
Are they as awful as it is said?
It's a tricky question. Not so easy to answer at all. But I'll try...

Well, travelling by trains in Poland can be both an interesting and quite unpleasant experience. It depends mostly on what kind of train you choose (and partly on weather!). Still, you must be lucky to get somewhere on time.
The trains have its schedule (you'll find it here) but we are used to waiting, and waiting, and waiting...
Still, believe me, unpunctuality is not the main problem.
What can be worse?

When it comes to trains, there are two companies responsible for all the mess. Regional Passenger Rail Operator (called: Przewozy Regionalne) and InterCity Operator. We usually say: PKP, which is short for Polish National Railways (Polskie Koleje Panstwowe) but you must be careful what train you get on.
When you but a ticket, always check the time of departure, date and the name of the operator.
Also, the type of the train you chose.
Before getting on the train, you can always ask a conductor if you have the right ticket.
Then, find your seat or any free place... and have a nice trip!

Where are the difficulties?
Not so many people working for PKP industry know English.
It's good to have a piece of paper and a pen on you - sometimes it's easier to communicate in such a way. If the worker doesn't know English (it happens quite often), put all information down (example: Warsaw: Cracow, 05.03, 17.25). There shouldn't be any mistakes then.

What else?
InterCity Operator is the most reliable one. Their trains are more expensive, but much more comfortable and much faster. You just make a seat reservation, that's all.
What about regional trains?
I often travel between Tarnow and Cracow.
I usually feel like a sardine in a tin!!!
Those trains are so crowded that sometimes it's hard to breathe :D
Besides, one day it's too hot inside, the other, on the contrary, much too cold.
So choose InterCity if you can.
If it's impossible, be a few minutes before train departure on the platform :)

Another problem with Polish trains is the lack of information.
Nobody knows when the train will come if there are any delays.
Nobody knows what ticket promotions are available.
Nobody knows anything if asked :)


Some useful information:
By Regional Passenger Rail Operator (Koleje Regionalne) I mean:
- Regio
- InterRegio
- RegioExpress Trains

PKP InterCity includes:
- Fast
- InterCity
- EuroCity trains

Trains in Poland are now rather clean. Sometimes, on Regio trains, there are problems with toilets.


Is it safe to travel by train?

Rather yes. Of course, if you fall asleep and leave your luggage unattended, you can lose money and some valueable things. I think it happens everywhere...
So just be careful!
Trains are not as awful as they used to be 10 years ago :-)

Some important information you can find also here (for example: useful "frequenty asked questions").
But you can always ask here as well.
The most important thing. There is no need to be afraid of Polish trains.
Travelling on your own it's not so bad. Sometimes... a little funny :-)

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