Original publication: September 2018
Author: PROTRANS – Marcin Wołek
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This overview of the transport and tourism sectors in Poland was prepared to provide information for the mission of the Committee on Transport and Tourism to the country in September 2018.


Transport and Tourism in Poland

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Poland covers an area of 312 679 km² and has 38.4 million inhabitants. The country’s eastern border is an external border of the European Union. It borders on the Russian Federation in the north-east, Lithuania, Belarus, and Ukraine in the east, Slovakia and the Czech Republic in the south, and Germany in the west. The urbanisation rate of Poland is 60.1 %[1]. In 2017, the gross domestic product (GDP) of Poland (at current prices) amounted to PLN 1 982 billion (EUR 465.6 billion[2]), corresponding to an increase of 4.6 % on the previous year. Poland is now a frontrunner among EU countries as regards the rate of economic development. Between 1990 and 2015, the GDP per capita of Poland increased more than sevenfold (x 7.3) – from USD 1 731 (at then current prices) to USD 12 500.

In 2017, the Polish economy ranked eighth in the EU and 24th in the world[3]. The rate of recorded unemployment amounted to 5.9 % in June 2018, the most favourable figure since 1990[4]. In 2017, Polish exports of goods amounted to EUR 206.6 billion, the figure for imports being EUR 206 billion. The main markets to which Polish goods are exported include Germany, the Czech Republic, the UK, France and Italy. For imports, Poland’s main partners include Germany, China, Russia, Italy and France.

Poland is divided into 16 administrative provinces (voivodeships), which are demographically and economically diverse. The outright leader is Mazowieckie Province, which includes the capital, Warsaw. Other metropolises located in regions with a strong and diversified economy include Kraków, Łódź, Wrocław, Poznań and the Gdańsk-Gdynia-Sopot tri-city. Moreover, the more advanced provinces are characterised by more diversified economic structure, greater availability of public transport, more substantial resources and more significant human capital, leading to a higher level of investment attractiveness. The provinces with lower economic potential are located on the country’s periphery. The province which accounts for the largest share (over one fifth) of national GDP is Mazowieckie.

Share of regions in GDP [%] and GDP per capita [blue font, in PLN] in 2015Podkarpackie Province covers an area of 17 846 km². To the east, the province is bordered by Ukraine, to the south by Slovakia. At both of these frontiers there are border crossings for rail and road transport (local or transit). Podkarpackie Province is populated by 2.13 million people and is thus the ninth most populous province. Only 41.2 % of its inhabitants are city dwellers, which makes it one of the least urbanised parts of Poland. For years, however, Podkarpackie has ranked highest of the country’s provinces for life expectancy.

The capital of Podkarpackie Province is Rzeszów, with nearly 200 000 inhabitants. The province includes 51 cities, four of them with over 50 000 inhabitants (Rzeszów, Przemyśl, Stalowa Wola and Mielec). The province’s GDP per capita stands at 48 % of the EU-28 average[5]. In the fourth quarter of 2017 unemployment stood at 7.3 %[6].

The transport network of Podkarpackie Province includes the A4 motorway, two expressways (S19 and S74), 13 railway lines and one international airport, Rzeszów-Jasionka (part of TEN-T).

General Information on Transport

In Poland, road transport plays a dominant role for both passengers and freight. This share is higher in passenger transport where cars, buses and coaches had a cumulative 92.7% market share in 2016. In case of freight, rail achieved over 14% of market share in the same year, while the share of inland waterways was marginal.

Figure 1: Transport freight and passenger modal split, 2016

In Poland, final energy consumption of transport has risen by 38% (from 12.5 Mtoe in 2005 to 17.2 Mtoe in2015)[8]. The country’s share of energy from renewable sources in gross final consumption of energy reached 11.8% in 2015 (16.7% for EU-28) but the share of renewable energy sources in Polish transport is comparable to the EU-28 average (6.4% for Poland and 6.7% for EU-28 in 2015)[9].

[1]     Polish General Statistical Office (GUS) – www.stat.gov.pl, accessed: 13.07.2018.
[2]     Eurostat – GDP and main components, accessed: 13.07.2018.
[3]     International Monetary Fund – www.imf.org, accessed: 13.07.2018.
[4]     Polish General Statistical Office (GUS) – www.stat.gov.pl, accessed: 13.07.2018.
[5]     Eurostat – Regional GDP per capita in the EU in 2013, May 2015.
[6]     Statistical Office in Rzeszów – Report on the socio-economic situation of Podkarpackie Voivodeship in 2017, 2018, p. 9.
[7] Eurostat – Goods transport by land by country.
[8]     Eurostat Statistical Books – Energy, transport and environment indicators, 2017, p. 56.
[9]     Eurostat Statistical Books – Energy, transport and environment indicators, 2017, pp. 68-72.

Link to the full briefing: http://bit.ly/617-496

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