Smigiel Open Day



Polish autumn, Smigiel Railway 8 November 2008.
Photo by Fukacz

Click to see photo in higher resolution on world rail photo website.

It started as an idea of Howard Jones to run an extensive service of steam trains on the Smigiel Railway on 8 November, the last day of this year’s steam services. SKPL, the line’s operator, thought that this would be an excellent opportunity to gain some publicity and to cement relations with the local community and Smigiel Council. Posters were printed. A prize draw was organised. Discreet phone calls were made and official invitations sent out to council members.

The result exceeded everyone’s expectations. The trains which ran from 07:00 to 21:00 hrs were all packed. Over 400 draw tickets were sold. The whole council turned ouit in all their splendour. The deputy mayor handed over the winning prize.

For a very modest expenditure to cover the publicity costs SKPL gained itself a few extra brownie points and the railway achieved a much higher profile in the eyes of the local council. SKPL is now rethinking its PR strategy for its other railways. Congratulations to Howard Jones of Wolsztyn Experience and Tomasz Strapagiel of SKPL for their initiative and to Marek Ciesielski and Lidia Kreuschner for actually making things happen on the ground.

I would have liked to have posted a picture of the crowds at Smigiel listening to the speeches by the VIPs, but unfortunately all that I have been able to find are some more picture of PX48-1919 taken on the day.

4 Responses to “Smigiel Open Day”

  1. Gavin Whitelaw Says:

    It only happened because it was overbooked by two groups including myself to hire the railway for the day. SKPL tagged the open day onto this overbooking and it was a great day in the end although we didn’t get to take the Px48 to the transfer sidings as we had intended and what was the main intention of the railway hire (Ie playing trains all day rather than an hourly -mainly! – service).

    SKPL did not pay for the coal or use of the loco, or the drivers and firemans wages etc, this was paid for by the extra money that 6 people including myself paid to Howard and this was what made it happen on the ground! To insinuate otherwise would not really be fair as steam does NOT run unless someone other than SKPL pay for it.

    Marek and the SKPL staff did a great job as usual and we had a great day apart from my cut head! I was on the tender going up whilst the cab roof was coming down. No great harm done and I would gladly bankroll this event again next year!!

  2. dyspozytor Says:

    I’ve corrected the article to emphasise that SKPL’s costs were related to the expenditure on publicity. Like all complex barter arrangements just tracing back the money trail may give a distorted picture of the role played by the various parties. As you rightly say, Howard pays for the Px48, the professional driver and fireman, and the coal. This money comes from his customers.

    But SKPL also takes a hit by absorbing the additional wear and tear that the Px-48 inflicts on the decaying track. But even that ignores the fact that English friends of the railway who first came to Smigiel for the Wolsztyn Experience courses have been attending working parties to sort out the worst bits of the line.

    What was innovatory about the 8 November mini gala was the invitation extended by SKPL to the townspeople and the town council and the enthusiastic way that both responded. I would be delighted to discuss next year’s event with you. Trying to coordinate an event in Smigiel while sitting in front of an Apple Mac in Berkshire is quite challenging!

    By the way, did you know that SKPL and Howard are talking about the possibility of taking the Px48 to another of SKPL’s lines next year?

  3. Michael Dembinski Says:

    Shame the carriages are the modern type – is there no 1930s/40s stock around any more? Same at Piaseczno narrow gauge – lovely Px48, atmosphere-free 1970s carriages that look like they could have come off the New York Subway. Out of place with that classic steam engine.

  4. dyspozytor Says:

    There was a last minute ‘reshuffle’ of rolling stock just before the Polish narrow gauge lines were ditched by PKP. Confusion reigned. Some steam locomotives were sold semi-legally abroad. Lots of Romanian diesels were left orphaned, hence the ‘wrecks’ seen all around the country. The railway at Sroda, which was never dieselised, ended up with a huge fleet of ‘Pafwag’ coaches, while the Smigiel Railway had none.

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