A total of 245.1 million passengers travelled on Poland’s railways in 2021, according to the annual statistical report issued by rail regulator the Office of Rail Transport (UTK).

This was up by 35.7 million or 17% on the total passenger numbers in 2020, but represented 73% of the number of passengers carried in 2019, which was the busiest 12-month period of the last 10 years, according to UTK.

A total of 27 million passengers travelled in October 2021, almost twice the amount recorded at the start of the year, which UTK attributes to students returning to full-time classes after a year of distance learning during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ticket sales data shows that passengers are increasingly buying tickets online, UTK says. In 2021 online channels accounted for 27.9% of ticket sales, up from 18.2% the year before. Purchases at ticket counters accounted for 35.1% of sales in 2021, a year-on-year decrease of 4.2 percentage points, while the proportion of passengers buying their ticket on the train increased from 17.6% in 2020 to 21.5% in 2021.

The freight sector experienced strong growth in 2021, with both tonnage and performance exceeding pre-pandemic levels.

Freight operators carried 243.6 million tonnes in 2021, an increase of over 20 million tonnes on 2020 and more than 7 million tonnes above the 2019 figure.

Intermodal traffic was 26.5 million tonnes in 2021, an increase of 2.7 million tonnes or 11.6% on the 2020 figure of 23.8 million tonnes.

The proportion of total freight tonnage carried by intermodal services was 10.9% in 2021, up from 10.7% in 2020 and 8.3% in 2019.

“In statistics, the year 2021 is better than the difficult one of 2020,” says UTK president, Dr Ignacy Góra. “This is a positive trend, especially since last year rail transport did not achieve in all European countries better results than in 2020.”