Happier times. In December 2006, Warsaw Railway Museum Director, Janusz Sankowski, listens to a speech by former Under Secretary of State in the Ministry of Infrastructure, Miroslaw Chaberek, on the occasion of a meeting to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the founding of the museum.
Photo, Ministry of Infrastructure.
(Click on photograph to see original 2006 article in POLISH on the Ministry of Infrastructure website.)
After 17 years in post, Janusz Sankowski, Director of the Warsaw Railway Museum, has tendered his resignation to Adam Struzik, the Chief Executive of Mazowsze province. Sankowski, though friendly and hospitable to foreign visitors, was not liked by the leaders of Poland’s independent railway museums and heritage railways. Sankowski had not kept track with what was happening in the railway heritage world and once famously told Fedecrail President, David Morgan, that “the future of railway museums lay in making and displaying scale models“. He also said that Poland had “too many items of historic rolling stock” and that the best way to solve the problem was to scrap surplus items.
The condition of the collection of historic locomotives and rolling stock that has been under Sankowski’s care at the old Warszawa Glowna Station is appalling with many movable items, including steam locomotive cab fittings and even connecting and coupling rods ripped off and sold for scrap. Warsaw Railway museum items stored elsewhere fared little better. Poland’s oldest steam locomotive, Tkh 5, which was delivered to the Railway Museum complete and then sent to the fraudulent skansen at Krzeszowive is now just three wheelsets and a pile of scrap.
The final straw for Polish railway enthusiasts came when scrap merchants started cutting up the remains of historic Italian diesel railcar SD-80 which for years has been left as a rusting burnt-out hulk in a siding behind Warszawa Zachodnia Station. At the end of August, Piotr Lewandowski, raised the plight of the collection under Sankowski’s care with the District Prosecutor’s office, and formally accused Sankowski of not properly exercising the duty of care over his collection.
Sankowski has told journalists that the problem was caused by Polish railway enthusiasts wanting to “preserve too many items” and that the Museum did not have room for all of them. Railway heritage society leaders counter that they had approached Sankowski many times regarding the possibility of their railways and museums taking particular items of rolling stock into their care and that Sankowski always refused their requests, or proposed punitive conditions which were not practicable for the society concerned.