The amendment of 13 February 2020 to the act on railway transport foresees changes which will influence the functioning of infrastructure managers (IM), railway carriers, applicants and operators of railway infrastructure service points, as well as the President of the Office of Rail Transport (Pol. Urząd Transportu Kolejowego, UTK). The act enhances the supervisory powers of UTK’s President, introduces significant changes to regulations with regard to granting licences to carriers as well as open access process. It also allows for the possibility to conclude a new type of contracts between a carrier and an IM, which aims at ensuring benefits for the clients of railway carriers. Also the rules of the independence of IMs have been provided.
ENHANCED POWERS OF THE PRESIDENT OF UTK
- The President of UTK additionally examines complaints by applicants regarding the conduct of railway traffic, planned and unplanned works with regard to renovation and maintenance of railway infrastructure, as well as regulations on independence and impartiality of IMs.
- The President of UTK may supervise the negotiation process between an applicant and an IM with regard to the level of charges for access to railway infrastructure, issues opinions on the draft cooperation contract between a carrier and an IM in order to ensure benefits for the clients of the carrier (should the execution of the contract violate the non-discrimination treatment of railway carriers, the President of UTK shall recommend the contract parties the dissolution of the contract).
- The President of UTK also issues opinions on the compliance with relevant regulations of the announced intent by the organiser of public transport services to conclude a public service contract in a direct (non-tender) mode (such opinion shall be issued within 30 days since the application will have been submitted by the party interested in execution of transport services based on this contract, which has been or may be harmed due to the supposed violation of national or European regulations).
CHANGES IN LICENCING
- Entrepreneurs, which execute railway transfers only by narrow-gauge rolling stock in local and regional networks as well as private infrastructure (also railway sidings), are not obliged to hold a railway carrier licence.
- Entrepreneurs are obliged to document their fulfilment of being of “good reputation”. A statement (or certificate) will be required, stating that members of its management board, partners or persons conducting business activity have not been sentenced for criminal offence or offences regarding the preservation of labour rights. Such statement (certificate) is to be provided during the course of the check process conducted by the President of UTK.
- The scope of documents necessary for the assessment, whether an entrepreneur fulfils the financial credibility requirement has been widened to include documents pertaining to asset burdens. Also an entrepreneur is obliged to provide information on expenses stemming from conducted business activities.
- Regulations from the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/1795 of 20 November 2018 laying down procedure and criteria for the application of the economic equilibrium test pursuant to Article 11 of Directive 2012/34/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council have been introduced into the act on railway transport.
- An applicant is obliged to inform the President of UTK and the relevant IM on the intent to execute railway transfer of commercial nature. It should be done at least 18 months before a working timetable is introduced.
- Change of the appeal procedure through granting to the proceeding party a possibility to apply to the President of UTK for renewed consideration.
- Application of open access regulations to commercial connections executed in the framework of high-speed rail.
COSTS OF RAILWAY TRANSPORT OPERATIONS
- An IM may conclude a cooperation contract with railway carriers in order to ensure profits for carrier’s clients, among those pertaining to the lowering of costs or improvement of the level of services on the part of the railway network, which is subject to the contract.
- An IM and an applicant may, under UTK President’s supervision, conduct negotiations as to the charges for access to railway infrastructure.
GUARANTEEING THE INDEPENDENCE AND IMPARTIALITY OF AN INFRASTRUCTURE MANAGER
The amended act on railway transport regulates the following aspects of guaranteeing the independence and impartiality of an IM:
- limitations with regard to commissioning of IM’s tasks;
- possibility to commission IM’s tasks to another entrepreneur;
- separate legal presence from other entities;
- prohibition to combine functions (as well as remunerations);
- influencing the composition of the management board, oversight board and managerial positions;
- limitations with regard to the purpose of income spending;
- separate accounting.
OTHER CHANGES IN THE ACT ON RAILWAY TRANSPORT
- Regulations regarding the availability of passenger stations have been adjusted (they should be available also for placing information for passengers and selling tickets).
- Regulations regarding the preparation of the railway network disturbance and result improvement plans have been made more precise.
- The national IM (PKP PLK) has been obliged to allow interested parties to express their view with regard to the network statement and the needs with regard to maintenance and development of railway infrastructure, intermodality and interoperability as well as the contract on the execution of multiyear plan.