Archive for August 17th, 2008

Out of box thinking in the cab?

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Las 0-6-0T after restoration by the Bieszczady Railway,
October 2006, photo BTWT

The 0-8-0T simmered quietly, a faint hiss of steam escaping from a faulty whistle valve that had failed to seat properly. The pressure rose slowly, 1, 1.5, 2.5, 4.5, 5 … . I rotated the reverser handle anticlockwise till the locomotive was in full backwards gear, kicked open the draincocks, open the regulator a crack, yanked up the weighted arm of the handbrake, yanked the regulator right over and pulled it back and we were off. I eased the regulator as we twisted over some ancient pointwork and then pushed it open again. All too soon it was time to shut off the regulator, apply the steam brake, and the repeat the exercise with the locomotive going forwards. This time I wound the reverse to approximately 20% cut off, gave the regulator a little more bottle and was rewarded with a nice bark to the exhaust.

My whole ‘driver experience’ lasted at the most 20 minutes and would, no doubt be greeted with a hoot of derision by the crews of the Wolsztyn Experience. But it was immensely satisfying and I went around with an enormous grin on my face for the next few days. I’m sure that I’m not the only one who would enjoy a short driving course if it was offered commercially. We don’t all want to take responsibility for racing across level crossings at speed with several hundred passengers behind us. Sadly, only a handful of Poland’s heritage lines still have operational steam engines. Those that do should seriously consider introducing such a product.

5 months – 25,000 hits

Sunday, 17 August 2008

BTWT cumulative daily hits each month

Around 18:30 Central European Summer Time on Saturday 16 August BTWT passed 25,000 hits. We don’t like blowing our own trumpet, but after 5 months of blogging, we think that 25,000 is a milestone worth celebrating. So let’s pause a while, reflect on where we have been, take stock and look ahead to where we are aiming for.

First of all, we see BTWT as a campaigning blog. We are not interested simply in achieving high numbers of readers, but rather in recruiting a special kind of reader. We are looking for people who care enough about the subjects that we write about to be prepared to act to support our campaigns. We are also interested in recruiting readers who are already involved in campaigns to save railways or to safeguard their routes for a return to railway use in the future.

Secondly, we intend that BTWT will be a bridge between supporters of railway transport and heritage railways in Poland and their opposite numbers in the United Kingdom. We will be supporting study visits to Polish railway heritage sites by members of UK railway societies and vice-versa.

Thirdly, we want to deliver concrete projects. Too many Poles regard British enthusiasts as vultures who regard Polish railway heritage as a bargain basement. We would love to prove them wrong. One of our friends owns a 0-8-0T Tkp heavy shunting loco. We want to help him to restore it to running order and to see it running on one of the newly independent, local authority controlled, standard gauge railways that are appearing in Poland.

Fourthly, we see ourselves as a lobby. We would like to help our Polish friends remove some of the legal and fiscal obstacles that have been holding back the development of the Polish railway heritage movement since its birth in 1987.

Finally and fifthly, we are your research tool. We can help you find out more about Polish railways, and when we can’t help ourselves we can usually find someone who knows more than we do.

Do you think that this vision is worthwhile? Would you like to see BTWT develop and grow? We have been developing BTWT on a shoestring for six months. Now we need your help to make it even better. Phone calls, petrol, pints of beer (or bottles of vodka!) to loosen the tongues of our sources all cost money. If you enjoy reading BTWT, please consider making a regular donation. If each of our 200-250 daily readers could spare the price of a pint of beer once a month, we could make BTWT the best railway blog in Europe!

Let’s go for it!