Czech Republic: Open-access… disrupting the rail status quo?
4 June 2015 • Author(s): Leoš Novotný, CEO, LEO Express
LEO Express is a Central Europe open-access passenger rail operator that is on mission to make train travel the first choice for passengers, by operating modern electric trains with the latest technology to compete with state railway systems and to set new high quality customer service standards. Since its first year of operation in 2012, LEO Express has transported over two million passengers and now connects over 30 cities in the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia. CEO, Leoš Novotný, goes into further details about their recent success and what they can offer passengers.
Let me ask you: would you want to eat your lunch in a state-run canteen? Would you want to use a government-produced mobile telephone? Probably not, so why should our only choice in rail travel be a state railway service?
Public transportation has many issues. Underinvestment in both infrastructure and rolling stock means services for today’s passengers are offered with yesterday’s technology. Supply driven decision-making means trains are bought before commercial sustainability of their operation is ensured – and the subsequent loss-making operation is patch-fixed by taxpayer subsidies, adding to public transportation’s spiralling drain on state budgets.
We constantly talk about the competitiveness of rail transportation against other modes. Why is the railway often not competitive? Perhaps it is because there is no competition within the railway sector that would make it stronger as a sector. On many European routes, people decide to fly with a low cost airline or choose to take a commercial bus. Why?