Sunday, June 30, 2013

Polish Railways

It looks that every train that passes through Warszawa Wschodnia station has to stay there for at least 1 hour. This is what happened to both of my trains, on the way to and from Lublin. Additionally, as they explained to me in Lublin, the local authorities are trying to fight against the local residents working in Warsaw; therefore, there are no night trains from Lublin to Warsaw, and in case you have an early morning plane from Warsaw, you have an option to either go there on the previous day by train (and either pay for 1 day in hotel, whereas in fact you only need it for 5 or 6 hours, or kill your valuable time at the Warsaw airport) or take a taxi directly to Warsaw airport from Lublin and pay some 15 times more than the train costs. It can even be a reasoble price if you are a big group, but not for a single traveller. I believe that Poles still very much like the dictatorial-style communist-type rulers, electing the politicians they do.

Ticketing in Lublin is a problem - I arrived to the station early in the morning, some 45 minutes before my train, and could not get a ticket with a guaranteed sitting place - they have no ticketing machines, as they do at Warszawa Centralna, and the only 3 ticket offices were moving excruciatingly slowly, with one of them dedicated to group trips and therefore not moving at all. An alternative that I used was to buy a ticket on a train, paying an extra 10 zloty for the service - is this difference the reason why the offices at the station were not in hurry at all, with half of them closed completely? Imagine - they actually sell first-class tickets without a guaranteed sitting place - I am quite sure it is much more comfortable to stand in the first class as opposed to the second class carriage. I had to change my sit 2 times, after Warszawa Centralna, as people were entering the train who had bought their tickets well in advance, with a reserved sitting place. The first class was very much packed to the capacity on Saturday, June 29, but I still did not have to stand. The WC I used had no water at all, either for flushing the toilet, or for washing your hands. It did have an indication of paper towels, but none of these physically present, and a small bar of soap, which was quite useless in the situation.

Altogether, my train from Warsaw to Lublin was some 40 minutes late at my destination, and the train from Lublin to Poznan was some 1 hr late. Last time I visited Poland some 8 years ago I had to fly to Warsaw via Madrid, this time I could fly via Lisbon, which is much more practical for a person living in Portugal. The railways, however, have not improved much.

On my way from Poznan to Warsaw airport the train to the airport was the only one they announced in English. All the rest was in Polish only. Due to delays they had to juggle platforms and tracks, therefore to my inquiry at the box office as to where the airport train will stop they answered "platform 6 or platform 3". The best option was to stay close to the billboard underground by the exit to platform 2, to see where the train will be announced.

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