Railway Communication as a Measure of Spatial Relations of Polish Cities in 2023
Purpose: The aim of the article is to analyse the spatial connections of the railway network, including volume and frequency of connections, from two perspectives: an intra-regional aspect, considering voivodeships as regions and examining links between the urban centres within a given voivodeship and its capital; and an inter-regional aspect, focusing on the links between provincial cities. Design/Methodology/Approach: The study employed simple statistical analysis and cartographic methods to present its findings. These methods enabled the determination of the interconnectedness of rail transport among the surveyed settlement units. Indicators were used that illustrate the accessibility and quality of the railway network in the study area, such as the density of the railway network, the degree of its electrification or the frequency of direct connections between towns. Findings: The results clearly demonstrate the spatial differentiation of rail accessibility at both the intra-regional and inter-regional levels. The importance of intra-regional connections is considerably lower, which is evident in the eastern part of the country. Direct connections between voivodship cities do not exhibit such stark disparities, with Gorzów Wielkopolski as an exception, and are relatively well-developed, highlighting the significance of railways in interregional transport. Practical Implications: The development of the railway network is an important factor in determining the attractiveness of regions for settlement. The spatial distribution and functionality of the network affect not only regional connectivity but also connections with the broader environment. The transport network is designated to meet the transport needs of the population and goods in a particular area, but it also stimulates the area. Thus, it ca be inferred that communication is an essential link between socio-economic processes. Originality/Value: The originality of this research lies in the use of practical indicators to identify rail accessibility in terms of both quantity and frequency, which are of particular importance for potential passengers. The analysis provides a foundation for planning future developments in rail connections at both regional and national levels.