THE SLOVAK and Czech transport ministries have until mid 2008 to prepare an analysis of how the countries' railway cargo transportation companies could be merged, reads a report by the Slovak Transport Ministry on the current state of ŽSSK Cargo Slovakia.
The analysis will decide the future development of ŽSSK Cargo, the ČTK newswire wrote.
According to Slovak Transport Minister Ľubomír Vážny, Slovakia would prefer not to have a minority stake in any future joint company, even though Slovak Cargo is smaller than its Czech counterpart.
Vážny said that Slovak Cargo can't compete on its own because the fees for railway transport in Slovakia are the highest in the European Union.
"The main reason for the high price is the state's low share in the total costs coverage for the railway infrastructure administration, which lags behind neighbouring countries," the ministry wrote in the document.
Therefore, the state should participate more in paying these costs in the future, it concluded.
According to preliminary estimates, Slovak Cargo transported 49.3 million tonnes of goods last year. The year before, it was 50.1 million tonnes. The ministry stated that on the Slovak railway transport market, it keeps a stable 98 percent of all transport output. ŽSSK Cargo has so far ended up in the red every year.
In 2002, Slovak Railways divided into two companies. The administration of infrastructure was left to the ŽSR, but the transport of passengers and goods was taken over by Železničná spoločnosť (ŽSSK). In 2005, freight transport split from the ŽSSK, forming ŽSSK Cargo.
In the neighbouring Czech Republic, freight transport separated from the Czech railways (ČD) last December to become an independent filial company, ČD Cargo. The company transports around 90 million tonnes of goods every year.
28. Apr 2008 at 0:00 | Compiled by Spectator staff from press reports