The Transport Ministry first cancelled the competition to operate trains to Banská Bystrica, announced by the previous minister Ján Počiatek (Smer), and now have dismissed the idea completely.
Instead, the state wants to restore the express trains using the route between Bratislava, Zvolen and Košice that were scrapped two years ago, the Sme daily reported.
“The direct trains will travel from Bratislava to Banská Bystrica and then via Lučenec to Košice in turns,” the ministry told Sme.
The express trains should be restored as of June, leaving Bratislava every two hours. They will either end in Banská Bystrica or continue to Košice, according to information obtained by Sme.
The state-run passenger carrier ZSSK has not commented on the information.
The state scrapped the direct trains between Bratislava and Košice that ran through Zvolen in December 2015. It substituted them with nine pairs of trains running directly between Bratislava and Banská Bystrica. Those who wanted to go to the east had to change trains in Zvolen.
“The concept of travelling via southern Slovakia changed two years ago due to the planned competition concerning the Bratislava-Banská Bystrica route,” Rastislav Cenký of the Institute for Transport and Economy told Sme.
The ministry announced the competition in November 2015, but new minister Árpád Érsek (Most-Híd) scrapped it in February 2015. He claimed at the time the ministry would prepare a new one with different conditions. The ministry wanted to secure the comprehensive operation of trains in the area, which included not only long-distance trains, but also regional trains and buses.
The recent plans however indicate there will be no such competition at all, an expert addressed by Sme opined.
By restoring the trains on the southern route, Érsek wants to make use of the higher number of passengers travelling between Bratislava and Banská Bystrica, but also the higher share of passengers on the route connecting the capital with Rožňava, Lučenec and Detva. However, it failed to specify how much the number of passengers increased, Sme reported.
Experts cast doubt on the potential mentioned by the ministry, with Cenký expecting that the trains to Košice via Zvolen will become less attractive to people travelling to Banská Bystrica as they will have to change trains.
Moreover, the track in the south is not electrified, which causes an lower average speed, Sme wrote.