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"Money on the Railway Should Be Invested Efficiently," Says Peter Kremský, OĽANO

&quote;Money on the Railway Should Be Invested Efficiently,&quote; Says Peter Kremský, OĽANO
foto: Peter Kremský, Facebook/"Money on the Railway Should Be Invested Efficiently," Says Peter Kremský, OĽANO
26 / 05 / 2023

RAILTARGET presents you with an exclusive interview with Peter Kremský (OĽANO). In the interview, we talked about the state of the railway in Slovakia, investments, and the statements of railway trade unionists.

Railway trade unionists recently sent an open letter to President Zuzana Čaputová, in which they sharply criticized the state of Slovak railways. How do you assess their statement?

I agree with the letter, and I am aware that the state of the railway infrastructure is rather poor. In my opinion, this is mainly due to neglected maintenance. For many years, at least 10 to 15 years, maintenance has been neglected, and the current state is a consequence of this. That is why it saddens me when I travel on a train at 120 km/h, and it suddenly has to slow down before a station and go at walking speed over a switch and then start up again at 120 km/h and so on. It not only creates delays but also wastes energy, as the train has to rebuild its inertia.

So, apart from neglected maintenance, I see another problem in the waste of money, which is not a lot of money for railway infrastructure per se. On the other hand, a lot of it is being spent wastefully. If we compare this with neighbouring countries, two to three times as much money is spent here on the same tasks as maintenance procedures or reconstruction, which is simply wasted, so something needs to be done about it.

So, in your opinion, is there a need to invest more money in the railways, or is it rather a need to manage it efficiently?

I think, first of all, the money that is being invested in the railways should be used more efficiently. It does not make much sense to just pour money into a torn bag, but of course, it should be more money, and, first of all, the efficiency of its use must be improved.

How do you assess the performance of the current government in dealing with the state of the railways? What would you personally do differently, and what would you, on the other hand, commend the current government on concerning this issue?

Within the Ministry of Finance, we have been pushing very hard for efficient use of resources. I think that the functioning of the Ministry of Transport has been marked by a failure to make more efficient use of funds, which I attribute mainly to the fact that there are still intermediate links from the SMERU government, through which money has very often leaked out. I am afraid that the Minister has not really done his job in this respect, and in fact, has often confined himself to asking for more and more money.

On the one hand, he has sometimes been successful in this, for example, when there was a crisis and passenger transport was threatened with a halt. I think that the role of the Ministry of Transport should be different from just asking for more money. It should push very strongly for more efficient maintenance, reconstruction and overall operation, not only of the railway infrastructure but of the railway company.

Which sectors, do you think, could be most lifted by rail modernization within the regions?

Unfortunately, rail transport is currently much less used than in the past. I think the reason for this is also the deplorable state of the infrastructure. That is also why companies have reduced the transport of goods by rail and prefer to use trucks.

If the operation of the railways were reliable, they could certainly boost tourism because people would travel more by train, for example, on holiday, to the mountains, to airports and so on. They could also boost heavy industry such as mining, the production of basic raw materials such as shafts and steel, or the chemical industry. Although these industries use the railways, if the railways were in better condition, they would use them more.

Will railways be an important issue in election campaigns?

Personally, I think not because it is more of an issue for the learned industries. I don't think voters choose who to vote for based on whether their train is late. The state of the railways needs to be addressed whether it is before an election or not.