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Slovak railway attracting fewer customers

Slovak rail company Železničná Spoločnosť Slovensko (ŽSSK) earned Sk1.7 billion (€151 million) in the first three quarters of 2007, which is Sk150 million less than planned. The number of passengers was higher than expected only in April and August, the Pravda daily reported on Tuesday. This means the company has registered a 3-percent fall year-on-year in the number of passengers. Revenues have also fallen slightly y-o-y and were 8 percent lower than the original projection.

"There are several reasons… People are switching to bus transport, and many have begun using cars. The inconsistent transport policy of the Government has had consequences as well," said ŽSSK spokesman Miloš Čikovský.

Problems caused by parallel train and bus routes are not being dealt with, and trains have to pay fees to the state for every kilometre of track they use, he added. "Only after tolls are introduced on the roads will the competition between buses and trains be equal," he said.

Fewer people travelled to and from the Czech Republic and Budapest in the summer. Passengers used trains mostly for short distances, and revenues in August fell by 20 percent y-o-y. The rail company therefore introduced several popular measures in September, such as 20-percent discounts for one-day return tickets for distances up to 70 kilometres.

The price of a three-month rail pass for daily commuters was also cut, and the company reduced fares to match those of buses on two routes - Bratislava-Banská Bystrica and Komárno (Nitra region)-Bratislava. TASR

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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