Anything at all positive on this scene is good news, I supposes, although I personally would rather see ‘falling-to-bits’ railcars running the whole length of the line, Stare Bojanowo – Smigiel – Wielichowo; latter stretch repaired to be just enough on the right side of falling-to-bits, for resumption of traffic to be allowed.
I keep hoping, and fantasising about a colossal win on the National Lottery – though in the event of that happening, the problem would be, as to which Polish narrow-gauge line is the most deserving of help…
The survival of the Smigiel Railway is very dependant on the good will of Smigiel Town Council who are not only the owners of the line, buy who apply for and then disburse the annual grant which is made to the railway by the Wielkopolska provincial governor’s office.
Semi derelict railcars don’t earn any brownie points with local voters; but if local residents can see that the railway is making an effort it becomes a little easier to try to involve the council in more ambitious projects.
I personally dream of restoring the connection through to Wielichowo!
From the entry on the SKPL website dated 25 January 2009, it appears that the situation at Smigiel is looking pretty poor. The decrease in the amount of freight traffic and wage increases have had a negative impact on the financial result recorded in 2008 at the SKD. I assume that the withdrawal of services between Smigiel and Wielichowo must have hit passenger numbers as well. It looks as though some sort of rescue or emergency plan is going to be put in place.
The SKPL Board is to have discussions with SKD staff about the proposed relocation of people to other units of SKPL, or other permanent solutions for balancing the revenue against the costs of business. I suppose that this means that redundancies cannot be ruled out. Although some repair work has been carried out to the part of the railway that that is currently operational this news cannot be good for the rest of the line.
I’m afraid that putting padded seats in a rail car is far too little, far too late. Perhaps if this had been done shortly after SKPL took over the line it may have been more helpful. The problems caused by the withdrawal of services from the northern part of the line and the decreasing freight traffic are not going to be overturned by providing some softer seats in a railcar at the 11th hour.
There are also rumours that the railcar service at Pleszew has not been running recently. It all raises questions about how long SKPL’s regular scheduled passenger services are going to continue for.
The situation at Smigiel is probably now more stable following recent cost saving measures than it was before. The grant from the Wielkopolska Governor’s office is predicated on the provision of the passenger service. The grant is processed through Smigiel Town Council, which this year demanded that some of the funds were spent on track repairs and railcar refurbishment.
There is no local authority grant with respect to the provision of passenger services on the Pleszew line and when faced with difficulties, such the faulty motor on the Romanian railcar, SKPL have suspended passenger services until the problem was resolved.
The staff on SKPL narrow gauge lines are former PKP staff who are gradually adapting to flexible working practices. Those who are prepared to do a range a jobs and work as mobile teams have retained their jobs. Those who have not, have been encouraged to leave.
The big question now is whether narrow gauge freight carryings will survive. With PKP Cargo facing a half billion zloty operating deficit in 2008 there is uncertainty over the future of wagonload freight.