RegioJet celebrates ten years on campus. It has carried 65 million passengers and is preparing for further expansion
RegioJet, starting with three pairs of connections, now operates over 200 trains a day. Further expansion is directed mainly to Poland.
“His yellow train will remain, probably permanently, only an image created on a computer and will never run out on Czech tracks,” Petr Žaluda, CEO of Czech Railways, declared in 2009 about Radim Jančura’s plans for his entry into the dormitory.
Today, Jančur’s RegioJet is celebrating exactly ten years since the start of regular operations and is preparing for further expansion. Although Jančur’s name is increasingly divided between supporters and opponents among his railway fans, one thing is certain: without his competition, Czech Railways would not have become the best state carrier in terms of price and services in the countries of the former Eastern bloc.
RegioJet starting with three pairs of connections between Prague and Havířov, to which it added (and also removed) other lines. Today, it offers almost 200 long-distance and regional connections, and the number of passengers on Czech Railways is the unrivaled number two on Czech Railways. It has carried almost 65 million passengers in ten years. Thanks to the arrival of a new carrier and an increase in quality, together with the fall in railway prices until the pandemic, it recorded a regular increase in the number of passengers.
Apart from RegioJet’s commitment, the concept of originally purely commercial trains also extended to transport to the order of the region or the state: first it entered the Bratislava – Komárno line in Slovakia, and from the end of 2019 also the lines in the Ústí nad Labem region and the Brno – Bohumín expressway. This year, it will start driving between Ústí nad Labem and Kolín. He added connections to Slovakia and Austria and Hungary to domestic trains, and also to Croatia during the season. Just open the lines to the Adriatic has provided the carrier with international publicity.
Problems with this service due to lack of people
“It is the competition and liberalization that has turned the railways into a customer-oriented service that is the biggest change in ten years. In 2011, we entered a monopoly environment on the railway as an intruder. Today, there is competition between three carriers between Prague and Ostrava, contracts for subsidized connections are competing and the share of carriers other than ČD is now around 16%, “ said Jancura.
Arriving on the route Prague – Ostrava meant a sharp drop in prices and an increase in quality. What did not work for many years was suddenly a matter of course at Czech Railways as well. The fierce competition brought especially the first years of operation and lawsuits at the European Commission, Czech Railways, in the meantime, already understandably that they can also make money from competitors: a large part of vehicles are now in service at Czech Railways. After all, all carriers have the same main competitors: cars. Traditional disputes and insults between the heads of both carriers are thus basically a thing of the past.
RegioJet starting with 162 Persšing locomotives, which it conveniently bought in Italy. At the start we can also get cheap cheap cars on the Austrian railways. Free coffee, newspapers or water and very cheap snacks combined with the lowest ticket prices attracted crowds of passengers. Paradoxically, the highly deployed level of service has become more of a burden for RegioJet in recent years: people have become accustomed to flawless service, which they will not see in many cases due to a lack of staff. The company admits a shortage of employees, seeing the coronavirus pandemic as blame.
“Covid-19 has literally paralyzed us. At a time when the company has been running at 20 percent of its output for a year and a half, people are in obstacles, and the last time it starts moving again, it is necessary to hire hundreds of employees, and that simply lasts. All the lines returned this summer, so the staff was missing at that moment, “ said Jančura in an interview in Lidové noviny. In total, according to him, the company lost a thousand people, which it is recruiting.
Another goal of expansion: Poland
RegioJet is preparing further expansion to Poland, where they already have all the necessary permits. It should start with a line from Prague to Krakow and then to Przemyśl to the Polish-Ukrainian border and to Lviv. “We are waiting for the opening of the Polish-Ukrainian border for regular passenger rail transport,” RegioJet spokesman Aleš Ondrůj explained. In Poland, the carrier also wants to purely domestic routes.
In 2022, RegioJet is preparing to start operations on routes connecting, for example, Prague and Warsaw with Amsterdam and Brussels, or from Poland and northern Moravia to Croatia.
Today, RegioJet has approximately 300 wagons in its fleet, with the result of new ones from the Romanian Astra going the way of acquiring older cars scrapped by other carriers. This year, RegioJet acquires 18 new Bombardier TRAXX MS3 locomotives with a total value of around 2 billion crowns. He took over eight of them, another ten he will take over this year. Next year, new Pesa Elf.eu electric units for the Ústí nad Labem region will also appear.