as of July 2010
Passenger trains in Poland are run by two carriers operating on the whole territory of the country:
— Przewozy Regionalne (PR) (earlier: PKP Przewozy Regionalne – PKP PR),
— PKP InterCity (PKP IC).
There are also local carriers and train categories (in Masovian, Lower Silesian, Kuyavian-Pomeranian and Pomeranian Voivodeships), not mentioned here. Some categories of international trains connecting Poland with other EU countries are not mentioned here either.
Since 2008 the categorization of trains has undergone big changes. Fast trains (pospieszny) were taken over from PKP PR by PKP IC since December 1, 2008. Instead, on April 30, 2009 PKP PR run interREGIO trains. Later, slow trains (osobowy) were renamed to REGIO. A new category, REGIOekspres, was also created. PKP PR also removed "PKP" from its name. During the period from November 2, 2009 till the end of 2010, PKP IC eliminated or plans to eliminate the following categories: pospieszny (fast train, change to TLK), ekspres (express, change to TLK or EIC), and InterCity (change to EIC).
Current train categories, ordered from the cheapest to the most expensive one (approximately):
— carrier: Przewozy Regionalne (PR):
— interREGIO (IR),
— REGIOekspres (RE),
— carrier: PKP InterCity (PKP IC):
— Tanie Linie Kolejowe – Cheap Rail Lines (TLK),
— ekspres – express (Ex),
— Express InterCity (EIC).
In trains operated by PKP IC all cars, regardless of their class, are equipped with compartments. Their standard depends on train's category and car's class – from 8 seats to 2 couchettes. In trains operated by PR usually there are only 2nd class cars, without compartments.
In trains operated by PKP IC (except for TLK) all places are numbered and it is required to purchase a seat reservation (miejscówka). In express trains (currently there are only a few of them), the reservation costs 3 PLN, in EIC – 12 PLN (3 PLN in some trains). In TLK trains the places are numbered, but purchasing a reservation is not obligatory (you can buy it, if you wish, only for places in 1st class). In trains operated by PR the places are not numbered.
Ticket prices: PKP IC (1), PKP IC (2), PKP IC – TLK, PKP IC – TLK – seat reservations, PR.
PKP IC introduced discount ticket prices in TLK trains on the Wrocław – Krakow – Przemyśl route, so that now the price is similar as in IR trains (which are usually cheaper than TLK). See: violet ticket.
In trains operated by PKP IC usually there are restaurant cars (WARS). In trains operated by PR – there aren't.
Student discount is 37%. It doesn't apply to students of foreign universities. Groups of minimum 10 people can buy group tickets at the price of ca. 50% of normal ticket price. Details: PKP IC in English and PKP PR in Polish. In international trains you can get a 30% discount if the journey is organized by a university.
See also: Categories of trains in Poland.