Interview with Nataliia Sapronova from PKP Intercity at the FTE B Conference

In the previous week, the FTE B Conference took place in Ljubljana, bringing together experts and stakeholders to coordinate cross-border trains for the upcoming timetable period. We had the opportunity of sitting down with Nataliia Sapronova, Expert of International Cooperation at PKP Intercity, who participated in the conference. Nataliia shared some of her experiences regarding the work at the conference, focusing on the crucial connection between Poland and Ukraine, which has become even more significant due to the current closure of air travel.


How does the FTE B Conference contribute to the international harmonization of timetable and production planning of your company?

Nataliia: Thanks to the FTE B conference it is possible to meet people from other countries who are responsible for negotiations and organization of the timetable planning. Later on, during the processes of trains’ running, it is easier to communicate with people who are charge of carriage realization. Despite the above, earlier PKP Intercity took part in OSJD, but due to the current situation in Ukraine, PKP Intercity withdrew its membership and the works have been suspended. The FTE conferences are the only place where we can meet all the Railway Undertakings in one place. For us FTE is like a huge family. What is established during the FTE conferences helps in further works of each country separately and stands for the basis for further development of railway passenger services within the country.


What are some of the challenges you face during the conferences? And how do you overcome these challenges?

Nataliia: One of many challenges we faced during the FTE conferences, I am happy to share, was when there was a need for organizing new connection from Przemyśl to Kyiv, as such type of train, to be more specific, the electric unit type of a train, has never been used in connection between Poland and Ukraine. This was required to be done fast and efficiently. At the very beginning it was just one train, but through time the service developed, and it created a huge hub in Przemyśl, which gave the possibility during the war to help transport people from Ukraine. All flights have been suspended and the railway transport became one of the main means of transportation for people.


Can you share an example of a successful outcome or collaboration that was achieved as a result of participating in this or in past FTE coordination conferences?

Nataliia: Through the railway border crossing Jahodyn - Dorohusk was only one train running using the normal gauge 1435mm, which was 67/68 Kyiv - Warszawa. Now, despite the trains from Kyiv to Poland, through the above-mentioned border crossing are running trains from Kharkiv, Dnipro, stations located close to the conflict line. The Chełm station became another huge hub. Since the beginning of the situation in Ukraine, the number of passenger trains increased. The border control was also moved to Chełm station only at the beginning of the conflict to operate as many trains as possible from Ukraine to Poland during that time. Worth mentioning is the fact that railway services are the only way of transportation for people. PKP Intercity jointly with UZ partner does everything to secure the need of transportation and help people connect.


In what ways does the FTE B conference help address the impact of construction works, the TCRs, on international passenger traffic?

Nataliia: The FTE B conference stands for the communication between Railway Undertakings, if there was no such conferences, all negotiations and meetings would have to be done bilaterally. The FTE organization helps in effective meetings of partners and keeps it well-organized. For instance, launching of a Chopin night train, which connects Poland, Czechia, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary and Germany, would require meeting with all the partners on our own and sometimes it would be impossible to find the best date suiting everyone’s expectations. Thanks to FTE international passenger traffic may be organized at one place with ever partner we wish to. The FTE organization has been with us for 20 years now, but we hope it will stay with us forever.