Szybka Kolej Miejska (Tricity)

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This article is about an urban rail service in Gdańsk. For a similar service in Warsaw, see Szybka Kolej Miejska (Warsaw).
PKP Szybka Kolej Miejska
w Trójmieście Sp. z o.o.
Type Ltd.
Industry Rail transport
Founded December 22, 2000
(as a separate company)
(as a part of PKP)
Headquarters Gdynia, Poland
Key people Maciej Lignowski
Revenue Green Arrow Up.svg 93 832 300 zł (2006)
Net income Green Arrow Up.svg 1 920 100 zł (2006)[1]
Employees 854 (2006)

Szybka Kolej Miejska (Polish pronunciation: [ˈʂɨpka ˈkɔlɛi̯ ˈmjɛi̯ska]; Fast Urban Railway), or SKM, is a railway transportation service that originally functioned in Poland's Tricity area (Gdańsk, Sopot and Gdynia). The system has since expanded to cover a larger route, reaching towns like Słupsk, Lębork and Wejherowo.

It is serviced by electric multiple unit cars at a frequency of 6 to 30 minutes between trains (depending on the time of day). It is comparable to a subway service or light rail in other European cities. The Tricity area is suited to this mode of transport, as it is shaped in a relatively narrow north-south corridor between Gdańsk Bay and the Tricity Landscape Park.[2]

General information[edit]

The company[edit]

The scheme of SKM line from Gdańsk to Wejherowo

PKP Szybka Kolej Miejska w Trójmieście is a limited company, part of PKP Group, founded in 2001 after PKP had been split into several companies in order to meet European Union standards. SKM is responsible for passenger transport across Tricity, and is fully dependent on PKP SA company. SKM is one of the companies which is set for quick privatization.[3]

The main goal of the company is to manage the special rail line (PKP rail line 250) and provide urban rail transport. The incorporation act was signed on December 22, 2000, and the company was registered on December 29, 2000. Operations began on July 1, 2001.[4]

SKM is one of the most profitable companies of PKP Group. Although it noted a loss in 2003, SKM posted profits in previous years, as well as in 2004 and 2005. The company is involved in many cultural events in Tricity, mainly as a sponsor. SKM is managed by a three-person management board.[5]


The main shareholder of SKM company is the Polish Exchequer, owning 84,6% (56 640) of them. The rest is owned by PKP S. A. - 3% (1966 shares) and Pomeranian Voivodeship - 12,4% (8 000 shares).[6]


SKM uses mostly PKP class EN57 and EN71 electric multiple unit trains that have been modernised to meet EU requirements such as handicap accessibility, advanced security and comfort. The rolling stock is maintained in Gdynia Cisowa Elektrowozownia (Gdynia Cisowa Depot), which is located on the border between Gdynia and Rumia, and serves also as company headquarters.

The EMUs have doors on both sides of the train and can therefore easily be operated in either direction. Even though the SKM line has stops with high platforms, the units can be used on low platform stations as well. The most common livery for SKM electric multiple units is yellow and blue. The exception are units with advertising labels, which are coloured according to the advertiser's wishes. The SKM company logo is placed on both sides of the unit, next to the doors.

A big problem for SKM are homeless people who in winter time seek shelter in the trains. SKM is trying to solve security problems in the trains, problems that are especially evident at night. Security is handled by SOK (Służba Ochrony Kolei, Rail Protection Office) officers and private security companies. Police and City Guard patrols are also more common than they once were. Another essential problem for SKM management are people defacing Electrical Multiple Units (EMUs) with graffiti. The company's spokesman, Wróblewski, assumes annually costs of removing paint from the trains as ce. 150 000 zł (about 50 000 USD).

On May 2006 one of SKM's employees, Marek Pleśniar, discovered an old EMU, like ones that used to drive on SKM lines until the 1970s (and previously on Berlin S-Bahn - built in 1936 especially for 1936 Summer Olympics). Those EMUs were canceled on December 20, 1976 according to the change of voltage in traction from 800 V to 3000 V. After this change many of them were used as technical cars or even as holiday houses for PKP employees. The EMU found in Tuchola Forest had probably been used as the second purpose.

The EMU is now waiting in the SKM sheds in Gdynia Cisowa and will probably be used as an old-style customer service office on one of the stops. The train is well preserved and as SKM officials say the renovation is not going to be difficult.[7]

On October 29, 2007 EN57 units modernized by ZNTK in Mińsk Mazowiecki started service for SKM. Modernization included, aerodynamic shape and several security systems, which prevent door opening while the EMU is in motion. Additionally, dividing walls between cars were removed, seats were mounted on walls instead of on the floor. EMUs were made more accessible by improving access to washrooms and adding electronic displayers and voice messages about stops. Crew compartments were equipped with air conditioning system.

Total cost of modernisation came to 18,000,000 zł, 5,000,000 of which was covered by the European Union. According to SKM chairman Osipów, the company intends to have at least 35 units modernised by 2012.[8]


An old type SKM ticket (before 2002)
An old type SKM ticket (2002–2006)

One of the most urgent and most difficult problems regarding not only SKM, but the whole Tricity transport, is lack of common tickets for the whole agglomeration and transport types. One has to buy different types of tickets for trams and buses in Gdańsk, trolleybuses and buses in Gdynia, and for SKM trains. Attempts to solve this situations are in progress.

Most of the train stops have ticket booths, and passengers starting the voyage on the stop without one can buy the ticket directly from train service. The price of normal ticket depends on the distance of a trip, and vary from 2,20 zł. to 6,20 zł. Monthly and weekly tickets are also available, as well as discounts for students.

The tickets are not validated in trains, but have to be validated in devices standing on platforms. Passenger entering train with a non-validated ticket is regarded the same as one without a ticket. SKM has subcontracted a company called Renoma for ticket control in EMUs.

Automatic ticket machines (with English, German and Polish language support) are in use throughout the SKM system.

Since 2002, SKM tickets are not valid in other PKP Group companies' trains. Previously PKP Przewozy Regionalne tickets could be used on SKM line, and SKM tickets in PKP Przewozy Regionalne trains on SKM route. It is still possible to buy a monthly ticket common for the two companies.

The layout of the ticket changed throughout the time. First tickets were the same as all local lines' tickets, and looked like a small cardboard rectangle, often with a hole pierced in the middle. More modern design was orange coloured, with a white strip on one end for stamping information about the station and time of validation. After improving stricte SKM tickets the layout took light blue colour, also with a white stripe. This new layout had a stops list printed on the reverse in the beginning. Lately, advertisements appeared there, or an information about possibility of advertising. Another kind of ticket one can see in SKM trains is a blank ticket, used by train conductor to sell the tickets on stops with no ticket office available. It has a stop list with boxes to note start and stop of the journey, type of discount (if any) and number of tickets. An extra fee for train sale can also be filled on this blank, as such fee is taken if the passenger boards on a stop where he could buy a ticket normally.

The passenger caught traveling without a valid ticket is asked for his or her documents and charged with a fine. In case one refuses to show documents controllers can call the police to wait on the nearest stop in order to verify one's identity. The amount of money a passenger has to pay for traveling without a ticket is rather serious, and for now it is more than 100 zł (over $30).

Since May 2006, SKM had been systematically introducing new layouts of single and monthly tickets. The main purpose was to distinguish the SKM tickets from other Polish railway companies. The change was made without instant canceling old type tickets, so that the two layouts were functioning one along other for some time.[9]

Since 27 January 2007, it has been possible to buy tickets (both single and monthly) from special vending machines. Those machines are presently placed only on the most frequently used stops: Gdańsk Główny, Gdańsk Zaspa, Gdańsk Oliwa, Sopot, Sopot Kamienny Potok and Gdynia Cisowa. For the first week after introducing those devices SKM employees were advising passengers how to operate them. The company is currently planning on buying more machines.[10]


Szybka Kolej Miejska owns 27 stops on the way from Gdańsk to Wejherowo, of which 8 are connected with railway stations. All stops are lying on one line, one after another. The situation looks like this since 2005, when GdańskNowy Port line was closed for passenger traffic, and five stops on this line are no longer used.[11]

Throughout the Tricity, SKM has its own stops built only for its purpose. The stops have high platforms, with tracks on both sides. Except for Gdańsk Główny stop, all trains heading south stop at the western side of platform, and trains heading north on the eastern side. SKM is systematically working on improving the quality of stops, as most of them are currently in bad shape, not having basic services like handicapped lifts or proper ticket validators. The company had lately launched a research among visitors of its website, asking which of the stops should be repaired first. Since January 2006 SKM decided to install video cameras on stops and stations in order to improve the security level on platforms and inside station buildings. Since now only Gdynia Grabówek stop is equipped with those devices.

In 2004 Szybka Kolej Miejska signed an agreement with owner of press outlets chain Relay, giving the latter exclusive rights for building its shops on platforms. One of the conditions was unification of the general look of kiosks. Outside the Tricity, on Gdynia Cisowa-Wejherowo line SKM uses later built stops, mainly with two platforms on each side of the tracks. The communication between platforms is made via underground or overground pedestrian passage.

Not all stops have ticket offices, some consist simply of a platform, sometimes even without a roof. A few of the stops are connected with railway stations, as the SKM tracks and long distance and local trains lines are parallel. A high platform is built on these stations in order to service SKM trains. Over 90% of stops are connected with other transport services (both buses and trams, or trolley buses in Gdynia). For major stops, the timetables of the two services are synchronised, especially when comes to night connections. The company makes big effort to keep passengers well informed. Informational tables, price lists and timetables are changed as soon as the previous is out of date or destroyed (what unfortunately occurs quite often).[citation needed]

The stops on Gdańsk-Nowy Port line are no longer used, as the line is closed and despite their antique character (those stops were built before launching SKM service in Gdańsk) most of them are now ruined. Even in the last years when SKM still serviced this line no efforts were made to repair underground or overground pedestrian walkways or platforms. Gdańsk Nowy Port stop was the first one to be closed, when the line was shortened in 2000.[citation needed]


Before 1945[edit]

First works on building additional tracks for urban transport on the GdańskSopot route began in 1912 (station tracks modifications and tearing down buildings on the planned route). The project was interrupted by the outbreak of World War I. In the interwar period, transport was completely divided between the Polish zone and the terrain of Danzig. Although rail transport in Gdańsk was serviced by PKP, its authorities did not decide to connect their city with Gdynia by a rail service. World War II led to a terrible devastation of Gdańsk, as well as the abolishment of borders dividing Tricity.

After World War II[edit]

During the war, Berlin S-Bahn cars were overhauled in the (then) German town of Luben to the east of Berlin. When that town, now known as Lubin, was ceded to Poland under the terms of the Potsdam Conference in 1945, 84 S-Bahn cars were in the works. Further cars were sent east as war reparations, and whilst many were sent on to Russia, at least 80 two-car sets, and possibly as many as 189 cars, were retained in Poland. These cars were allocated to the Tricity region for use on suburban services, and one set is preserved in this condition at a museum at Koscierzyna.[12]

The initial design of urban transport (by Prof. Roman Podolski) was to electrify existing tracks, but a more expensive project of building new lines of electrified tracks was forced mainly by Gdańsk Regional Board of National Rail director Zbigniew Modliński – later Polish Vice-minister of Transport. The Berlin cars were refitted, mainly by changing the power supply system from the third rail (as still used today in Germany) to a system utilising overhead lines. Also, the lights were changed from small into larger ones that would conform with PKP standards.

Apparently from construction of rail line to Gdynia a rail track to Nowy Port had been electrified. The first depot for German cars was organised temporarily near Gdańsk Zaspa Towarowa station (on the GdańskGdańsk Nowy Port route). A project to change within 15 years the voltage in power supply lines from 800 V (as in Berlin) into the Polish standard 3000 V was initiated. A total of 80 electric multiple units were refitted. In October 1950, the decision to build a separate lane for urban transport was taken, and as a result a separate department of Rail Electrification Office was founded in Gdańsk. Until the operation started in 1952 the two-track line was ready only on the Gdańsk – Gdańsk Wrzeszcz distance. The line to Sopot still had only one track. The second track to Sopot was ready in June 1952. Owing to that, the train running frequency rose to 10 minutes. On July 22, 1952 two-track connection with Gdynia Orłowo was ready, in 1954 dual-track traffic reached Gdynia Główna station, two years later Gdynia Chylonia, and on December 31, 1957 first electric multiple units reached Wejherowo.

On the Gdynia – Wejherowo distance, SKM ran on rails common with other trains. Rails prepared for urban rail service from Gdańsk to Gdynia had few special features, like curves of a smaller angle, less resistant bridges and a top speed of 70 km/h. Until the 1970s, the ridership continued to grow heavily, which surprised even constructors. In 1959 the number of travellers reached over 50 million passengers annually. About 152,700 citizens were said to live in a distance no larger than 800 metres from SKM stations. More than 40% of the Tricity population used this means of urban transport. However, this led to a problem that is still evident to this day—crowding in the trains. Back in the day, some people were forced to ride on the outside parts of the trains.

Unrealised plans[edit]

Primary project asset electrification of the line from Gdańsk to Pruszcz Gdański was planned, but because old power lines near the tracks would have had to be removed, the plan was given up. Another unrealised project was electrification of the Gdańsk – Nowy Port line with an experimental voltage of 1500 V; low quality and frequent engine breakdowns led to project cancellation in 1954.

Plans to connect Wrzeszcz with Kokoszki and Kartuzy were often made in the 60s. It is not obvious why this line was not rebuilt and electrified, as the cost was relatively small. More hopes were connected with building a Seaside SKM that was to run from Zaspa Towarowa to Sopot, east of the existing line, to relieve pressure on the crowded (Sopot - Gdańsk) section.[13]

1970s and 80s[edit]

Changes in number of passengers served annually

This was the age of the biggest traffic on lines. Introducing automatic line blockade allowed to increase train running frequency to 6 minutes. The voltage on the GdyniaWejherowo line had been changed to 3000 V. As a result different EMU types had to be used. However, old S-Bahn trains caused more problems, and the decision to change voltage on the whole line, and as a result to exchange all trains was made. This forced another changes to be made, like lengthening the platforms and building new depots complex in Gdynia Cisowa. A continuation of building the third lane on Gdynia – Rumia distance was also in progress. The day (called by Tricity engineers The X Day) when the change was made was set on December 20, 1976. This caused a great disturbance, as the information of stopping the traffic on December 19 did not reach the public, and this was the pre-Christmas time.

Thanks to unification, the electric multiple units were able to leave beyond Gdańsk – Wejherowo line, and ride on standard trains rails in case of emergency (as a result regular trains could also ride on SKM rails). In 1975, the annual number of passengers travelling by SKM exceeded 100 million people, and it could reach the level of 300 thousand passengers daily. The eighties were the time of recession, not only for railroad. No new investments, except for the ones started in 1970s, were made. The electrification of Polish railways was moving fast instead, and the plans appeared to electrify Gdynia – Kościerzyna route. According to started in 1986 first Polish nuclear power plant construction in Żarnowiec three units were heading this village in 1986–1990.

Time of changes[edit]

The fall of the communist regime and the change of economic system brought enormous development of individual motorisation, and as a result decreasing number of passengers in urban transport. During the 1990s, the annual number of passengers served by SKM was halved, from 80 million to 40 million, but it continued to be an important urban transport service in Tricity.

Capitalist economy forced much reorganisation in PKP. The main change was to leave the division made on geographical basis and start to divide PKP in departments depending on responsibility. As a part of these changes, Urban Passenger Transport Department was founded in Gdańsk, responsible for marketing trade side of SKM.

Alongside these changes, works on commercialising PKP were in progress and soon after SKM became separate company in July 2001. In June 2005 the line to Nowy Port was finally closed, as it proved no income.

On December 2, 2005, SKM achieved 25th place in the top 100 Polish companies by Rzeczpospolita newspaper. It was the highest place in Pomeranian Voivodship and the highest position for the company from the PKP Group.[14]

Tensions in SKM management[edit]

After 2003 the key people in SKM were Mikołaj Segień (CEO) and Piotr Małolepszy (CFO). After finishing their terms PKP put Andrzej Osipów and Maciej Lignowski.[15] This move was strongly criticised by SKM employees and labor unions, which were afraid that SKM would be incorporated to PKP Przewozy Regionalne (one of PKP Group companies, responsible for local railway connections). PKP Przewozy Regionalne is widely know to be non profitable and to have serious problems with debts.[16]

Under a threat of strike (an official letter was sent to PKP on 13 June), PKP management invited labor unions and employees' representatives to talk in Warsaw on 14 July 2006. The talks started at 4 AM and as a result an agreement was signed. This agreement stated that Piotr Małolepszy was to stay in SKM management board together with new authorities. The other parties taking part in talks were self-government of Pomeranian Voivodship and national labor union of railway engineers. Segień had retired after finishing work for SKM, but it is possible, that he will be hired by local government as the person responsible for local transport in marshall's office.[17]

New connections[edit]

The scheme of SKM line expansion by 2012

New connections (not using SKM line) were started to Iława, Lębork and Elbląg in 2003. At the end of 2005 decision was made to buy a few items of German used diesel multiple units to serve the GdyniaKartuzy line (non electrified). The future of this line is still uncertain due to doubts of the local authorities.[13]

Since December 10, 2005, the southern area of SKM service has been shortened to reach only Tczew and cancel connections to Elbląg, Malbork and Iława. In exchange the company has gained several connections with Słupsk.[18]

Soon after UEFA's decision to grant Poland and Ukraine organisation of the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship new plans for SKM were made. The most probable one is to re-open presently defunct line to Gdańsk Nowy Port, as one of the stadiums, Baltic Arena is to be built just near former stops Zaspa Towarowa and Kolonia.[19]

More ambitious plans tend to build additional line of SKM, connecting Gdańsk Lech Wałęsa Airport with Wrzeszcz. It would be built over the remains of a pre-war line from Stara Piła to Wrzeszcz. Such a line could be easily connected with existing, yet not electrified line to Gdynia, via Gdańsk Osowa and Wielki Kack. Another advantage of re-opening this connection would be that no buildings would have to be torn down, as the remains of an old line are not destroyed anywhere on its path.[20]

SKM electric multiple units parameters[edit]

SKM is serviced completely by electric multiple units since 1976, when last Berlin S-Bahn cars were retired. Presently mostly PKP class EN57 and PKP class EN71 are in use.

Parameter EN57 EN71 EW58
Top speed 110 km/h 110 km/h 120 km/h
Power (at h) 740 kW 1480 kW 1864 kW
Constant power 608 kW 1216 kW 1648 kW
Top acceleration 0,5 m/s² 0,6 m/s² 0,9 m/s²
Max. axle pressure 14,3 t 14,3 t 13,0 t
Car weight 57 + 2 x 34 t 2 x 57 + 2 x 34 t 42 + 2 x 52 t
Wheel diameter (driving/non driving) 1000/940 mm 1000/940 mm 1000/920 mm
Car length (external + internal) 20700 + 21570 mm 20700 + 21570 mm 21130 + 20940 mm
Places (seating/standing) 212/468 288/624 212/352
Number of cars in unit 3 4 3
Traction scheme (m-motor, d-motorman's cabin, n-no cabin/motor) d-m-d d-m-m-d dm-n-dm
Number of doors per car per side 2 2 3

In other Polish cities[edit]

There is also an SKM in the capital of Poland, Warsaw. This was launched in 2004 and runs from the neighbouring town of Pruszków, through the centre of Warsaw to Sulejówek Miłosna station. This SKM is not operated by PKP and is owned by the Warsaw Transport Authority. It has eight trains of type 14WE. In the past, Warsaw SKM borrowed a couple of trains from the Gdansk SKM. Unlike the Gdansk SKM, the Warsaw SKM's services runs less frequently, around every 30 minutes.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "PKP Group report in PDF" (PDF). 2006. Retrieved 2007-11-01. 
  2. ^ "SKM data from PKP Group site on PKP official site". Archived from the original on 2006-12-12. Retrieved 2007-01-21. 
  3. ^ "SKM data from PKP Group site on PKP official site". Archived from the original on 2006-12-12. Retrieved 2007-01-21. 
  4. ^ "SKM information from PKP Group's overview in PDF" (PDF) (in Polish). Retrieved 2007-01-16. 
  5. ^ "SKM data from PKP Group site on PKP official site". Retrieved 2007-01-21. 
  6. ^ "SKM's Public Information Bulletin (Biuletyn Informacji Publicznej SKM)" (in Polish). Retrieved 2007-11-01. 
  7. ^ "Old-time EMU in Tricity (Zabytkowa kolejka w Trójmieście)" (in Polish). 2006-05-10. Retrieved 2006-07-15. 
  8. ^ "Modernised SKM trains start running (Odmienione SKM-ki ruszają w trasę)" (in Polish). 2007-10-27. Retrieved 2007-11-01. 
  9. ^ "New SKM tickets layout (Nowe wzory biletów SKM)" (in Polish). 2006-05-17. Retrieved 2006-07-15. 
  10. ^ "SKM announces installation of vending machines" (in Polish). Retrieved 2006-02-22. 
  11. ^ Marek Potocki. "SKM stops information from Polish railway stations database" (in Polish). Retrieved 2005-12-08. 
  12. ^ Fender, Keith; Bent, Mike (February 2011). "Old Berlin/Gdansk S-Bahn cars in museum and in use". Today's Railways (Platform 5 Publishing Ltd). p. 61. 
  13. ^ a b Leszek Lewiński. "15 minutes to Kartuzy (15 minut do Kartuz)" (in Polish). Retrieved 2007-11-04. 
  14. ^ "Company's history at official site" (in Polish). Retrieved 2007-01-16. 
  15. ^ "PKP press communicate about changes in SKM management board" (in Polish). Retrieved 2006-07-14. 
  16. ^ "SKM chief is fired, are we are going to have a strike? (Szef SKM odchodzi, czy będzie strajk?)" (in Polish). 2006-06-14. Retrieved 2006-07-15. 
  17. ^ "PKP management made an agreement with SKM trade union (Zarząd PKP S.A. porozumiał się ze związkami zawodowymi SKM)" (in Polish). Retrieved 2006-07-16. 
  18. ^ "Railway - less but the same? (Kolej - mniej, ale tak samo)" (in Polish). Retrieved 2006-02-24. 
  19. ^ "Some cash for new SKM (Kasa na nową SKM)" (in Polish). Retrieved 2006-04-28. 
  20. ^ "Revolution in Gdańsk? (Rewolucja w Gdańsku?)" (in Polish). Retrieved 2006-04-28. 
  21. ^ "SKM Warsaw official website" (in Polish). Retrieved 2007-11-04. 

External links[edit]