Train services in Poland apart from the main Warsaw-Krakow line tend to be fairly slow, though reasonably well organized, cheap and punctual.
Polish State Railways (PKP) and Przewozy Regionalne operate the trains in Poland. Przewozy Regionalne was split off from PKP in 2008.
There are four main types of PKP train service in Poland:
Intercity (IC) trains shown as IC in red on the yellow Polish timetables. These express trains run from Warsaw-Krakow and Berlin-Warsaw and require a reservation.
Express (EX) trains, known as ekspresowy in Polish, shown as EX in red on timetables connect Poland's major cities but are slow. Krakow to Wroclaw, for example, takes 5 hours via Katowice. Reservations are necessary.
Fast trains, pospieszny, marked in red as "posp" are slower and do not require a reservation.
Normal trains are the slowest and stop at every local station. Marked osobowy in black on timetables.
Przewozy Regionalne operates the following train services.
Regio (R) local 2nd class only passenger trains stopping at all stations.
RegioPlus local 2nd class only trains stopping at fewer stations with the same fare tariff as Regio trains.
InterRegio (IR) inter-regional 2nd class only trains, stopping at main stations only.
RegioEkspres (RE) express 1st and 2nd class trains on international and inter-city routes, stopping at main stations only.
Przewozy Regionalne also operates the Balice Ekspres, a special service running to and from John Paul II International Airport Kraków-Balice and Kraków Główny - the main railway station in Kraków (20 minutes).
First class (pierwsza klasa) is around 30% more than second class (druga klasa). Sleeper is sypialny and couchette kuzetka. Be aware of your security on all over night trains in Poland.
Stations in Poland are known as Główny or Centralny and will have cafes, a waiting room and a left-luggage area. Allow for some queuing while booking a ticket. Station announcements are usually not in English. Services on trains are best on IC and express routes with maybe a buffet car or trolley. Beer is not served. Polish trains are completely non-smoking.
Bicycles can be taken on trains if the train has a special carriage for bicycles and large items of luggage and a special ticket is required.
Train times and journey times can be searched on the internet at rozklad-pkp.pl. Some typical train times are Warsaw to Wroclaw 6 hours, Warsaw to Gdansk 6 hours, 40 minutes, Warsaw to Krakow 3 hours, Warsaw to Poznan 4 hours.
There are rail connections from the capital Warsaw to Kyiv in the Ukraine by overnight sleeper. The journey time is approximately 15 hours. There are also trains to Minsk (Belarus; 10 hours) and Vilnius (Lithuania; 9 hours, 20 minutes). There is a daily train to St. Petersburg from Warsaw (summer only; 30 hours) and three trains daily, year-round to Moscow (20 hours) through Belarus. Travelers require a transit visa for Belarus.
There is an express service from Warsaw to Berlin by Intercity express (IC). Trains from Krakow run to Prague via Katowice and there are also international trains to Vienna and Berlin. Przewozy Regionalne operates a Wroclaw-Dresden (Germany) service.
From London to Warsaw change in Brussels - 20 hours.
Raileurope offers a number of flexible rail passes for Poland.
Polskie Koleje Państwowe (Polish State Railways) www.pkp.pl (Tel: +48 22 511 6003)
Warsaw Central Station
Al. Jerozolimskie 54
00-024 Warszawa Jerusalem 54,
Tel: (22 47 45 019)