Travelling by train in Poland


General information


Polish national operator PKP has invested heavily over the past decade to modernise its trains and stations, which now frequently compare to some of the best in Europe.

However, there is one aspect of Polish travel that is guaranteed to confuse overseas visitors and that is to do with how the platforms (perons) and tracks are numbered at stations in Poland.

HOW TO FIND YOUR TRAIN AT A STATION IN POLAND:

If you think of the platform in a station, as an island between the railway lines/tracks, with trains departing from both sides of the island -  in Poland these ‘islands' are named 'Perons'.

Or in other words these ‘islands’ are the platforms, while the specific areas on a platform that a train departs from and arrives at, are the tracks.

In Poland the ‘perons’/platforms have their own numbers, but other additional numbers are used for the tracks – the specific areas/zones on the peron that the train(s) will be departing from.

The perons/platforms are usually divided into quarters – with a track in each corner - each of which has its own number,

On the electronic departure screens on station concourses and in the entrances, only the 'Peron' numbers are shown.

The core idea is that you make your way to the peron and then when you are on the peron/patform, you can tour these track info screens and discover which specific 'track' your train will be leaving from.

Each numbered track also has its own dedicated departure indicator.

Or use the yellow departure 'Odjazdy' sheets, as these list both the peron (platform) numbers AND the track numbers

To avoid confusion (ahem) roman numerals are used for the ‘peron’ numbers on these departure sheets* and numerical numbers are used for the tracks.

So, for example, when arriving at Krakow Glowny station to take a train to Warszawa – the ‘peron’ number on the electronic departure board may = 5, but the departure sheets will show this ‘peron’ number as ‘V’, with the track number written as 10 beneath it.

So you would follow the signs to ‘peron’ 5 and then when on ‘peron’ 5, you would locate the electronic indicator for track 10 and this is where the train to Warszawa will be departing from.

Don’t let that put you off as trains can be an easy and comparatively cheap means of exploring Poland.

*At some stations the yellow Odjazdy sheets are paper posters, but some major stations have electronic versions - you can use buttons to scroll through the departures.

OTHER THINGS WORTH KNOWING ABOUT POLISH TRAIN TRAVEL:

(i) A bonus of travelling 1st class in Poland is the complimentary snacks and drinks - complimentary light meals are served in 1st class on the rather fabulous EIP trains.

(ii) PKP's comparatively easy to use website now has an English language version and limited numbers of discounted tickets are available for long distance (EIP, EIC and TLK) train journeys in Poland, so giving it a try is recommended – tickets can be emailed to you.

Though it doesn’t (yet) sell international trains if you are booking tickets from outside of Poland.

(iii) Another benefit of the PKP website is that Polish express trains are comparatively infrequent, so use it to look up train times before heading to a station - even if you won't be buying tickets online.

(iv) Tickets are not discounted for journeys buy local or regional trains - so PKP does not sell these tickets online.

(v) One other source of potential confusion is that Warszawa has three stations used by long distance trains - Warszawa Centralna lives up to its name with a city centre location.

However, trains from the south and west call first at Warszawa Zachodnia station before going on to Warszawa Centralna and then call at Warszawa Wschodnia station.

Trains from the north and east call first at Warszawa Wschodnia station before going on to call at Warszawa Centralna and then call at Warszawa Zachodnia station.

ALL THE LINKS BELOW GO TO POLISH LANGUAGE PAGES - so use Google Translate to access the information.

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