21.02.12.banner_eng2

„Polish infrastructure”

Polish highway, railway, and energy infrastructure should be talked about productively, or should not be talked about at all. Apparently, 38 million people in our country are familiar with politics and soccer. Surely no fewer than this number drive on our roads, ride our trains, or use electricity in their houses. It’s easy for the public to complain about the situation when they use these services – but that’s the easy way out.

You don’t have to be particularly perceptive to notice that a majority of our highways – especially the urban ones – are in miserable condition. Major parts of our railway system – from the stations themselves to the tracks running underneath our trains – are relics of the past rather than a mark of pride. And when it comes to energy, starting with expensive electricity and finishing with Poland’s dismal contribution to green energy projects, the current situation only reinforces the idea that the development of our country is too slow.

That’s what we know already. That’s what everyone can see. So it is high time to start speaking productively about infrastructure, with an eye to the future.  Accordingly, the Executive Club has recently organized the 3rd edition of the conference ‘Polish Infrastucture’, to which we have invited the biggest authorities in all strategic fields associated with infrastructure. Experts in the field, as well as managers from the largest Polish companies working in this area – those who know most about the functioning of our railways, highways and energy systems – are involved in this conference.

Until recently, one upcoming event seemed to be only a light at the end of the tunnel, but it is now a powerful lamp beaming with full light. The event is obviously Euro 2012. No one doubts that without the pending Euro Cup the condition of our infrastructure would be worse than it is now, because how else would the government organize money for such enormous investments in an efficient manner? Help has been offered by the UEFA and the European Union. The former contributed to the football Euro the latter, an infusion of paper euros for construction. Even though some scandals, including the one involving the A2 motorway, weren’t avoided, Poland can still boldly be called one big construction site. This doesn’t mean that we should stop thinking how the country will look after the tournament, however.

The government has devised a new schedule for highway construction in the years 2014 – 2020. The priority has been a network of paid motorways, which after the introduction of an electronic system for collecting TOLL fees, has already started to earn money. The more routes connecting each other we have, the less tendency for drivers to use alternative routes. If a route is just 200 or 300km long, then the costs of transport will already be compensated by the fee collected for using these roads. So we are assured by Vice minister of Transport Radosław Stępiń. Besides these financial benefits, building such a system has  produced a real treasure trove of knowledge which will be very helpful in adapting other highway networks to the needs of the drivers and carriers.

The greater the number of modern highways, the more our coffers will expand.  This means that highways will have to  be built after the Euro Cup, not just until it begins. No one doubts that the pace of work will drop after such a major event. However there is a chance that conditions for further construction will improve. At the moment the law for public orders indicates that the most important in the tender’s final decision is the price. And even though there is not much to be done about this law, there is certainly a need for introducing special means for eliminating predatory pricing. The experts say jointly – ‘the price’ has to find a special supervision. The example of previously mentioned A2 highway showed us explicitly, that it is impossible (at least in Poland) to build a motorway for an unrealistically low price. It is possible that during the tender an unrealistic offer can be made, abandonment of the construction site takes place, and later, as if nothing ever happened, public procurements are made.  Therefore it currently is possible – and not detrimental – to make an unrealistic offer, because there is no sanction for it – says the managing director of the Council for Public Procurements, Jacek Sadowy. That is why work on legal notations are currently taking place. Such notations would enable the investor to get significantly more information about the construction site, contractors and subcontractors in advance.

The appetite for better roads grows exponentially greater, therefore public expectations are at an all time high. We have huge responsibilities, then, since we made the market keen. Those milards, about which Minister Stępień was speaking, are facts. If we now add the concessions projects to that, we will gain almost 85mld zlotys. This is an amount which has been in turnover in the past four years – explains General Director of National Roads and Highways Lech Witecki. That is why we should not be surprised that in the context of Polish infrastructure the Polish railway looks rather wan. We should be straightforward about the fact that: too little for railway investments has been budgeted from the EU money, the perspective for the years 2014-2020 seems rather foggy, and the railway tenders are much harder to conduct than the roads’ ones. None of these factors help the situation very much.

Looking at the unrelenting passage of time, I am not surprised that the market perceives railway investments as going slowly. That’s true: the railway infrastructure has been unwinding very slowly. The red FIDIC on the E65 line did not work out well, because its design took a very long time and so the large majority went for the yellow FIDIC – admitted Józefa Majerczak, Member of the Board PKP Polish Railways.

What’s more, PKP PLK plans to spend around 30mld zlotys for investments in the years 2014-2020, and the General Direction as much as 80mld. And now in the final settlement the railway will be left behind. Taking into consideration the fact that from Gdańsk to Warsaw going by train takes more than 7 hours, the preparation of the investments will remain a drop in the sea of the needs. One is certain at this stage: PLKA along with the carriers must find a plan for the modernization of the railway as soon as possible. They also have to start fighting for money, otherwise not only will Polish railway stop developing, it will start regressing.

Polish highway, railway, and energy infrastructure should be talked about productively, or should not be talked about at all. Apparently, 38 million people in our country are familiar with politics and soccer. Surely no fewer than this number drive on our roads, ride our trains, or use electricity in their houses. It’s easy for the public to complain about the situation when they use these services – but that’s the easy way out.

You don’t have to be particularly perceptive to notice that a majority of our highways – especially the urban ones – are in miserable condition. Major parts of our railway system – from the stations themselves to the tracks running underneath our trains – are relics of the past rather than a mark of pride. And when it comes to energy, starting with expensive electricity and finishing with Poland’s dismal contribution to green energy projects, the current situation only reinforces the idea that the development of our country is too slow.

That’s what we know already. That’s what everyone can see. So it is high time to start speaking productively about infrastructure, with an eye to the future. Accordingly, the Executive Club has recently organized the 3rd edition of the conference ‘Polish Infrastucture’, to which we have invited the biggest authorities in all strategic fields associated with infrastructure. Experts in the field, as well as managers from the largest Polish companies working in this area – those who know most about the functioning of our railways, highways and energy systems – are involved in this conference.

Until recently, one upcoming event seemed to be only a light at the end of the tunnel, but it is now a powerful lamp beaming with full light. The event is obviously Euro 2012. No one doubts that without the pending Euro Cup the condition of our infrastructure would be worse than it is now, because how else would the government organize money for such enormous investments in an efficient manner? Help has been offered by the UEFA and the European Union. The former contributed to the football Euro the latter, an infusion of paper euros for construction. Even though some scandals, including the one involving the A2 motorway, weren’t avoided, Poland can still boldly be called one big construction site. This doesn’t mean that we should stop thinking how the country will look after the tournament, however.

The government has devised a new schedule for highway construction in the years 2014 – 2020. The priority has been a network of paid motorways, which after the introduction of an electronic system for collecting TOLL fees, has already started to earn money. The more routes connecting each other we have, the less tendency for drivers to use alternative routes. If a route is just 200 or 300km long, then the costs of transport will already be compensated by the fee collected for using these roads. So we are assured by Vice minister of Transport Radosław Stępiń. Besides these financial benefits, building such a system has produced a real treasure trove of knowledge which will be very helpful in adapting other highway networks to the needs of the drivers and carriers.

The greater the number of modern highways, the more our coffers will expand. This means that highways will have to be built after the Euro Cup, not just until it begins. No one doubts that the pace of work will drop after such a major event. However there is a chance that conditions for further construction will improve. At the moment the law for public orders indicates that the most important in the tender’s final decision is the price. And even though there is not much to be done about this law, there is certainly a need for introducing special means for eliminating predatory pricing. The experts say jointly – ‘the price’ has to find a special supervision. The example of previously mentioned A2 highway showed us explicitly, that it is impossible (at least in Poland) to build a motorway for an unrealistically low price. It is possible that during the tender an unrealistic offer can be made, abandonment of the construction site takes place, and later, as if nothing ever happened, public procurements are made. Therefore it currently is possible – and not detrimental – to make an unrealistic offer, because there is no sanction for it – says the managing director of the Council for Public Procurements, Jacek Sadowy. That is why work on legal notations are currently taking place. Such notations would enable the investor to get significantly more information about the construction site, contractors and subcontractors in advance.

The appetite for better roads grows exponentially greater, therefore public expectations are at an all time high. We have huge responsibilities, then, since we made the market keen. Those milards, about which Minister Stępień was speaking, are facts. If we now add the concessions projects to that, we will gain almost 85mld zlotys. This is an amount which has been in turnover in the past four years – explains General Director of National Roads and Highways Lech Witecki. That is why we should not be surprised that in the context of Polish infrastructure the Polish railway looks rather wan. We should be straightforward about the fact that: too little for railway investments has been budgeted from the EU money, the perspective for the years 2014-2020 seems rather foggy, and the railway tenders are much harder to conduct than the roads’ ones. None of these factors help the situation very much.

Looking at the unrelenting passage of time, I am not surprised that the market perceives railway investments as going slowly. That’s true: the railway infrastructure has been unwinding very slowly. The red FIDIC on the E65 line did not work out well, because its design took a very long time and so the large majority went for the yellow FIDIC – admitted Józefa Majerczak, Member of the Board PKP Polish Railways.

What’s more, PKP PLK plans to spend around 30mld zlotys for investments in the years 2014-2020, and the General Direction as much as 80mld. And now in the final settlement the railway will be left behind. Taking into consideration the fact that from Gdańsk to Warsaw going by train takes more than 7 hours, the preparation of the investments will remain a drop in the sea of the needs. One is certain at this stage: PLKA along with the carriers must find a plan for the modernization of the railway as soon as possible. They also have to start fighting for money, otherwise not only will Polish railway stop developing, it will start regressing.