Reflections on Civil Society in Poland



Poznan Urząd Miasta

A massive 25 hour translation job caused a severe disruption BTWT postings, but left me considerably wiser. An enormous amount of Polish life is still organised by the state. With local and national government present in so many ways, it is no small wonder that railway societies – genuine examples of bottom up initiatives in Polish civil society – find the going so rough.

The job involved translating a calendar of tourist recreational activities. I was surprised to discover that nearly all the listed events were funded or organised by local authorities in the form of urząd miasta (town administration office), urząd gminy (municipal administration office) or starostwo powiatowe (municipal administration office). Ocassionaly I was bowled a googly in the form of miejski urząd gminy (municipal administration town office). Does this municiplity have another office in the countryside for days when the weather is too nice to stay in town?

Sadly railway events were few and far between, but I did note down a few which BTWT readers might like to mark up in their own diaries.

1 -3 May – Wolsztyn Steam Gala

The Wolsztyn Steam Gala and the Parade of Steam Locomotives are a well established event in the Polish heritage railway calendar. This year the British-Polish Railway and Industrial Heritage Partnership are organising a week long study tour of the railway attractions of Wielkopolska during the week preceeding the gala. SKPL and the Wolsztyn Experience will be working steam hauled goods trains on the Kalisz Railway to coincide with the tour . Write to me for further details.

16/17 May – Long Night of the Museums

The Long Night takes place all over Poland. Entry to many Museums and other locations is free. Last year, Warsaw Urban Transport Company, MPK, and the Warsaw Suburban Railway, WKD, operared vintage tram services.

25 May – 13 July – 4th Wielkopolska Hand-propelled Platelayers’ Trolley Open Championship

This Open Championship is an event that I hadn’t heard of before. I was intrigued that it takes four different bodies to organise it:

Wielkopolska Gościnna’ Foundation – tel 065 574 12 22, ;

Inter-municipal Tourist Association – ‘Wielkopolska Gościnna’

Krobia Town Administration Office – tel 065 57 11 111,,

District Administration Office in Gostyn – tel 065 575 25 13,,

17 July ‘Blues Express’

The steam-hauled Blues Express takes enthusiasts to the Blues Festival in the picturesque village of Zakrzewo on the Piła – Chojnice line. The music starts on the departure platform at Poznan station and a second train runs from Gdynia. Amazingly the price of a ticket (19 PLN from Poznan and 22 PLN from Gdynia) is the same as for a PKP osobowy (slow) passenger train!,

17 July ‘Helen’s Feastday’ (T.B.C.)

Beautiful Helen, Pm32-2, pacific express locomotive has its own feastday in August. The event is organised by the Wolsztyn Town Administration with help from the Wolsztyn Cultural Centre and PKP Cargo.,

18-19 September National Light Railway Song Contest

The Song Contest is being held by the Wyrzysk District Light Railway, This surviving fragment of the once extensive public and private 600 mm lines in Wielkopolska deserves to be known much better by British enthusiasts.,

There’s many more railway events occurring in 2009. I should really compile a comprehensive calendar, One of these days… !


5 Responses to “Reflections on Civil Society in Poland”

  1. Gavin Whitelaw Says:

    How easy is it to book on the Blues Express if your Polish isn’t that good to book it by email or phone? I may tootle out to have a run on it.

  2. Gavin Whitelaw Says:

    Just had a look at the website. If I read it correctly it comes back through the night to Poznan. Booking Holidays at work tomorrow for it!

    Looks like a great day and night out!

    • dyspozytor Says:

      Just spoken to someone who goes on the Blues Express each year. There’s no need to book ahead. The tickets are available from PKP ticket offices. Just arrive early to be sure to grab a good place and bring a warm jacket and a sleeping bag.

  3. Robert Hall Says:

    Had heard in previous years, of the Blues Express, but was unaware of its context until reading this post. Not my kind of music; I personally would as soon experience a long session with anybody’s secret-police force, as take part in this lark in any way or shape; but a venture likely to give varied sorts of pleasure, to many. In principle, to be applauded.

    Have never come across anybody who has travelled on the Pila – Chojnice line. From the late 1970s onward, Chojnice had a reputation in the continental-gricing community, as a notorious black spot: local passenger on the many lines radiating there from, was reputed to be ‘infested with railcars’ – so nobody went there.

  4. Ed Beale Says:

    Do you know whether trains will be running on the Wyrzysk District Light Railway as part of the event on 18-19 September? Their website appears not to have been updated for a couple of years as the last train mentioned ran on 23/06/2007. I would be interested in a visit if it is running as it’s one of only a few surviving narrow gauge lines I haven’t travelled on.

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