Country Listing

Poland Table of Contents


Transportation and Communications

In 1989 Poland had 26,644 kilometers of railroads, including 11,016 adapted for electric traction. The country also had 159 thousand kilometers of hard-surface public roads, 6,846 kilometers of oil and gas pipelines, and 3,997 kilometers of regulated inland waterways (see fig. 15). Polish State Railroads, a state monopoly, ran 1,920 electric locomotives, 2,567 diesel locomotives, and 198 steam locomotives, 136,128 freight cars, and 5,530 passenger cars. The main intercity lines were well serviced, and trains generally ran on schedule. In the postcommunist reform era, fares and freight rates were gradually increased and subsidies reduced accordingly.

In 1989 the Polish merchant fleet included 249 freight ships totaling 4 million deadweight tons and nine ferries totaling 18,000 deadweight tons. Regular international lines reached London, Asian ports, Australia, and some African and Latin American countries. The inland fleet included sixty-nine passenger ships, twenty-six tugboats, 387 motor units, 325 motor barges, and 1,055 barges. The major Baltic ports are Szczecin, Gdansk, Gdynia, and Swinoujscie, and the major inland ports are Gliwice on the Gliwice Canal (Kanal Gliwice), Wroclaw on the Oder River, and Warsaw on the Vistula River.

The national airline, Polish Airlines (Polskie Linie Lotnicze, commonly known as LOT), flew forty-six Soviet-made airplanes in 1989. LOT purchased its first Boeing airliner in 1990 at the beginning of a modernization program that included replacement of a large part of the fleet, construction of a modern airport, Okecie International, in Warsaw by contract with a German firm, and updating kitchens and cargo facilities. By 1992 the airline's transatlantic lines were served by Westernmade jets, although LOT did not expect to meet overall Western standards of air travel for several years. In 1989 only eighty of Poland's 140 operating airports had permanent-surface runways. Five airports offered runways longer than 3,600 meters. The largest airports are at Warsaw, Rzeszów, Kraków, Koszalin, Slupsk, Zielona Góra, Gdansk, Katowice, Poznan, and Bydgoszcz.

National telecommunications networks were neglected badly during the communist era. In 1989 Poland had only 5,039,000 telephones, of which 544,000 were in rural areas. Beginning in 1990, however, several major contracts with Western firms promised substantial improvement.

The national radio and television broadcast system was entirely state-owned and state-controlled until 1990. In the restructured telecommunications program developed in 1991 and 1992, part of the system remained under state control. But the new system also licensed private broadcast stations, whose programming received minimal state oversight. The first private television station began broadcasting in Wroclaw in 1990. At that time, the state-run Polish Radio and Television Network was broadcasting over four radio and two television channels. Color television was broadcast through the Secam system, and the Eutelsat satellite system provided a hookup with Western Europe. About 10 million television sets and 11.1 million radio receivers were registered in 1988, and 3,500 licenses for satellite television receivers were current. Some eighty-two television transmitters were in operation in 1990. Radio programs were broadcast in English, Russian, German, Lithuanian, Finnish, and French as well as Polish.

Data as of October 1992