Railways want to be paid for providing luxury even though travellers do not get it

RAIL passengers do not get what they pay for, with inspectors from the Transport, Construction and Regional Development Ministry finding dirt and rubbish when inspecting trains, the Sme daily reported on August 20.

(Source: Sme)

One unhappy passenger is Tibor Villanyi, who travelled to Levice in the Nitra region during the recent extreme heatwave in first class but without air conditioning. He did not receive a discount, although Slovak Railways (ZSSK) claims that it offered a partial refund to passengers.

In 2014 inspectors from the Transport Ministry carried out 103 inspections of trains operated by both Slovak providers of rail transport - the state-run ZSSK and private company RegioJet. Among other things, they discovered damaged seats, faulty electric sockets and dirty toilets.

So far, the state has imposed only minimal fines on the railway companies and argues that the main purpose of these initial checks of new standards was to set up a new system of controls.

“Fines haven’t been the primary goal so far, it was more about raising awareness of the deficiencies and the non- observance of prescribed standards,” said ZSSK spokesperson Jana Morháčová.

The new standards were introduced at the beginning of last year and specified that trains should be clean and odourless and that electric sockets should function, at least in first class. They also addressed the temperature in trains, which should not fall below 18 degrees Celsius. If the temperature rises above 30 degrees, it should be 5 degrees lower in the air conditioned carriages.

“Finally, it was stated that it isn’t acceptable for trains to be untidy, for running water to be unavailable and for there to be no space for transporting bicycles,” asserted Desana Mertinková, chief editor of Railway Revue magazine.

In the first half of this year inspectors carried out a further 41 inspections, but rail transport providers were still unable to comply fully with the standards. The same shortcomings have been detected - dirty interiors, malfunctioning doors, unemptied rubbish bins, etc. Fines are set to rise, with the extent to be specified at the beginning of next year.

The inspections have also focused on railway stations. The ministry has already carried out 13 checks, and the results were also unfavourable - dirty buildings, inappropriately located benches and not enough bicycle stands.

As was the case in 2014, RegioJet claims that it has not received a single fine this year so far.

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