Government approves greater liberalisation of Czech rail market
The Czech rail market is set to open up further to competition after the government’s approval of liberalisation plans on Wednesday, the Czech News Agency reported. According to information posted on the Office of the Government’s website, tender processes for the right to run services on five high-speed rail lines will be held by the end of 2021
The ministry’s proposals were recently the target of criticism from the Czech Republic’s private rail services providers RegioJet, Leo Express and Arriva. They argued that the number of lines due to be made available in competitions was insufficient.
The current version of the plan envisages postponing the tender process for the Liberec-Pardubice line by two years. A new rail carrier could begin operations there in late 2020 or 2021.
Some of the originally considered routes have disappeared from the government’s proposals. Also dropped was the idea of establishing a so-called state train rental.
That idea had been criticised by the management of Czech Railways, the state-owned dominant player on the market, trade union representatives and some politicians from government parties the Social Democrats and ANO.
Prague to Ústí nad Labem and Cheb and Prague to Děčín have been replaced in the freshly approved plan by other electrified routes.
The route from Ústí nad Labem along the left bank of the Labe (Elbe) was dropped over the fact that Czech Railways and Germany’s Deutsche Bahn have signed a contract to create a Prague-Berlin international express service on the same line.
The Ministry of Transport has proposed launching competitions on the route from Prague to Hradec Kralove, from Cologne along the right bank of the Labe through Mělník to Usti nad Labem and from Prague to Brno via Havlíčkův Brod.
Another change is a proposal to split the line from Prague through Plzeň into express and international express sections. International trains to Munich would not stop before the West Bohemian city.
Private carrier Leo Express has bid to run express trains between Prague and Munich at a price of CZK 94.4 a kilometer. The company told the Czech News Agency that given the level of state subsidies for the line at present it would deliver savings of almost CZK 100 million annually.
E15 reported that this has led the Ministry of Transport to give Czech Railways a new contract of only two years for the route.