Rail Transport Infrastructure as a Factor Accessibility of Rail Transport on the Example of Poland
Purpose: The article presents the impact of changes in the length of rail transport infrastructure in Poland on the regional availability of rail transport. Design/methodology/approach: The time analysis covers the period from 2000 to 2020. During the period under study, the length of railway lines in Poland was shortened, which should be associated with the socio-economic changes that took place in Poland after 1989. This situation was influenced by several factors: socio-economic changes, changes in the principles of organizing railway transport, the growing role of transport user preferences, changing transport behavior of the population and growing access to passenger cars. Findings: The article is of a theoretical and empirical nature. The theoretical layer presents an overview of the scientific achievements regarding the role of public transport in socio-economic development and the issues of transport accessibility. The empirical layer presents changes in the length of railway transport lines and the spatial and demographic assessment of the density of railway transport lines in Poland from a regional perspective. On this basis, a weighted average indicator was determined reflecting changes in the availability of bus services in Poland. The calculations are presented for the period 2000-2020 by country and region. Practical implications: The reduction of railway lines reduces access to rail transport in Poland. First of all, it results in reduced accessibility to rail transport services for residents. This has a negative impact from a social point of view, limiting the mobility options of people without access to passenger cars. Negative effects also have economic and environmental dimensions (higher environmental costs). Originality/Value: The results contribute to the discussion on the development of rail transport infrastructure in the context of improving transport accessibility. Infrastructure development plans should take greater account of general megatrends taking place in society. Due to the lack of new investments (or their small number) related to the development of infrastructure, population growth negatively affects the level of transport accessibility and thus worsens the quality of life of residents.