PRIVATE Czech operator RegioJet says it has been forced to delay the start of its Prague - Berlin cross-border service originally scheduled for the timetable change in December due to major engineering work south of Dresden.

The operator says it was unable to find suitable train paths for the service but is hopeful of beginning operation later in 2025.

“We still intend to launch this route as soon as we can get a better timetable that suits our customers," says Mr Jakub Svoboda, executive director of RegioJet.

“RegioJet remains determined to implement this route next year.”

2023 results

While the delay is a blow, RegioJet is continuing to build momentum in its business, carrying a record 12 million passengers on its rail and bus services in 2023, an increase of around 1 million compared with 2022. The figure includes almost eight million rail passengers on the company’s regional and long-distance services in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary and Poland. The average occupancy of its trains was 85%.

The company achieved sales of more than Koruna 3.4bn ($US 145m) across its rail and bus services during the year. According to unaudited results, profit before tax is expected to reach Koruna 500m.

“Our goal is to constantly improve quality, safety and comfort for our customers," says Mr Radim Jančura, owner of RegioJet. “We have made a sufficient profit which has enabled us to obtain the necessary resources for bank financing which we will use to purchase new trains. We plan to invest Koruna 1.5bn this year and Koruna 3-4bn next year."

Fleet investment

RegioJet will introduce seven additional Elf two-car EMUs on services around Prague under a contract with Prague Integrated Transport (Pid) from the start of the 2025 timetable in December. The operator introduced seven of the trains on a public service obligation (PSO) contract in the Ústí nad Labem region last year.

In addition, RegioJet bought 13 new class 388 Traxx MS3 multi-system locomotives from Alstom in 2023. These trains will enter service on both domestic Czech and international routes this autumn.

RegioJet also confirmed that it plans to refresh both the interiors and exteriors of its coach fleet.

The operator adds that it has ordered another fleet of electric trains from Pesa Bydgoszcz to operate electric services in the Ústí region from December 2026. It will also begin to operate Prague - Havlíčkův Brod - Jihlava/Brno services from December 2026 under another contract won in 2023.

RegioJet recently introduced a new cross-border service between Prague and Chop, Ukraine, and carried more than 230,000 passengers on its service from Prague to Přemyšl on the Poland-Ukraine border in 2023, an increase of 60% compared with 2022.