Interview with Janusz Kućmin
general representative of Bombardier Transportation for Poland
Bombardier Transportation has produced in Poland since 2001.
What is our market for a large international company?
Bombardier is one of the main producers and suppliers of rail vehicles and city transport systems in Europe and in the world and the largest international investor in the area of rail transport in Poland. For 15 years we have participated in modernising Polish railways. Our products are famous throughout Poland and they are recognised by operators and passengers. Double-decker BOMBARDIER TWINDEXX trains are mainly in use in Masovia. TRAXX locomotives are used by many state-owned and private railway companies providing passenger and cargo transport services. Modern, low-floor FLEXITY trams enhance city transport in Kraków, Gdańsk and Łódź. Most main railway lines in Poland and in the Warsaw metro make use of train traffic management systems designed and produced by Bombardier Transportation. At present, we are implementing the European Rail Traffic Management (ERTMS/ETCS) level 2 on lines E30 and E65, and on the network of the Pomeranian Metropolitan Railway. It is worth knowing that Bombardier is the world’s only producer of both rail rolling stock and aircraft. In Poland passenger craft by Bombardier are very popular. The national air carrier Polskie Linie Lotnicze LOT uses turboprop airliners BOMBARDIER Q400 NextGen for domestic and international flights. This is what Polish market is for our company.
Bombardier has four works in Poland. What are their core business areas?
Currently, Bombardier Polska has more than 1500 employees in its four main operations in Katowice, Łódź, Warsaw and Wrocław, and in a few service divisions. The wide range of activities of BT Polska covers, among other things, production of bodies of locomotives and passenger trains, bogie frames for high-speed trains, regional traffic multiple units, tramways and metro carriages, design and production of railway traffic control and monitoring systems, production of electrical apparatuses, maintenance of railway traffic control units and rail vehicle servicing. In 2016, thanks to investments carried out in the factory in Wrocław, we started the production of bodies of high-speed trains ICE4.
And what is the distinguishing feature of Bombardier’s products made and used in
To put it simply, their shared characteristics are mostly innovativeness and the highest level of technology in the industry. It refers to both rail vehicles and main subassemblies as well as to rail traffic control systems and services, for example railway rolling stock maintenance system. In Poland Bombardier is a leader in designing and manufacturing rail traffic control systems (RTC), and the bodies of vehicles produced by the factory in Wrocław are unmatched. Not only our service divisions in Poland offer the highest level of services but they also provide an innovative rolling stock maintenance system which guarantees the highest possible availability of the system to users.
Let us briefly discuss Bombardier’s railway projects. What does the company consider as the greatest successes
in the Polish market?
Bombardier Transportation, as a global company, supplies products and provides services to many carriers and infrastructure operators throughout the world setting the new quality in railway industry. In 2014 we produced the fastest European train ZEFIRO. We deliver innovative wireless supply technologies for city transport vehicles, PRIMOVE buses and tramways and INNOVIA monorail system. In Poland we are the leading supplier of rail traffic control units. Our solutions are present on most main railway lines in Poland. We were the first to put multi-system locomotives, push & pull double-decker passenger trains and low-floor tramways on Polish tracks. Recently, we have completed the delivery of the first in Poland European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) level 2 on line E30 from Legnica via Węgliniec to Bielawa Dolna.
Thus, what are the challenges for railways in the coming years? What is your vision of modern
Relieving roads is a necessary and challenging task for railways. Railway must win new customers and, to this end, attractiveness of transport services must be increased. Already now, rail traffic management systems, including both ERTMS and systems for city railways, metro and tramways, are very complicated technologies. Their purpose is ensuring continuous or increasing level of safety taking into account the continuously increasing intensity of rail transport. Modern railway, with reference to passenger transport, should be in the first place easily accessible to travellers, comfortable and safe, and at the same time it should travel at the highest possible speed. Recently, many new, innovative design solutions have been introduced. Their tasks include improving the attractiveness of rail transport, both cargo and passenger. Bombardier Transportation invests considerable funds in new technologies and innovative solutions. Bombardier’s brands such as TRAXX, ZEFIRO, TALENT, TWINDEX, FLEXITY, MOVIA, INNOVIA or PRIMOVE are the synonyms of innovative designs in the industry. We won many important tenders thanks to the innovative approach to the design of vehicles or their significant subassemblies. As a producer of both rail vehicles and rail traffic control systems, we are perfectly aware that a lot can be done to improve the effectiveness of classic railways. Large European cities practically cannot exist without rail transport. Currently, ecological aspects, safety and the highest possible reliability are at stake. More and more railway operators perceive energy consumption and maintenance costs more important than the buying price. The policy of the European Union aiming to open the European railway market and create a competitive railway environment, will lead to a situation in which railway lines with poor, faulty rolling stock generating high maintenance costs had huge problems competing with those having modern, reliable and verified rolling stock at their disposal. Competition will also appear more and more frequently in rail city transport systems. A strong point of the Polish railway system, of course apart from its relatively big density, is without any doubt its location in the transit area and the existence of large conurbations generating regional and suburban traffic. Thus, further investment is definitely necessary, both in the infrastructure and rail vehicles making use of such infrastructure. A positive phenomenon is the growing understanding of the needs for investing in the railway transport system. It is worth noting that in the territory where the railway system — and even its fragments — has been modernised, passengers' interest in rail transport is clearly increasing. This is a typical European trend and we should be glad it also occurs in Poland.
I do not think it means no hazards for railway industry exist?
Of course. Insufficient financing of the railway system with reference to the huge needs for modernising the track infrastructure is still a problem. Modern railway vehicles that appear in the network or as a part of opening the European market, will not be used in full with regard to limitations of infrastructure. The ongoing and planned investments certainly improve this condition; however, the scale of needs is still very large. This affects mainly cargo operators who often do not use main transport corridors only. Nearly common investing in cheap structures, often not tested before purchasing, is a significant problem with likely long-term consequences. We can expect that many “modern” looking rail vehicles will expose their users to serious costs of maintenance. Expensive, faulty, very energy- and labour-consuming rolling stock cannot be used in the future to effectively compete with operators having not necessarily cheap but possibly reliable and cost-effective vehicles at their disposal. Those who have known Polish railways for many years, during the journey can observe, with satisfaction, consistent pursuit to improve the rail transport system. Numerous investment projects are carried out: overhauls and modernisations of rail infrastructure and railway stations or construction of new lines equipped with modern rail traffic control systems, including the famous ERTMS. I think that recent investments have contributed to improvement in the competitiveness of railways. I believe that the works completed on main transport routes and subsequent tasks on secondary lines and even on sidetracks will create a modern European rail transport system capable of competing with road transport and in some cases with air transport as well. However, it is very important that reliable and cost-effective vehicles would run on the modernised or practically new infrastructure.