Archive for March 27th, 2009

Doom and Gloom

Friday, 27 March 2009


Some of Poznan’s annoying trams and a ‘bendy bus’

(Photo – Empiron ‘Living in Poznan’ page.)

Geoff Jenkins has asked for more doom and gloom. ‘BTWT’ prides itself on being an interactive blog. You ask – we write.

There are good days and there are bad days. Maybe getting up at 05:00 hrs in order to attend an early morning meeting in Poznan was bound to give a grey hue to my view of the world regardless of what else would have happened today. A year has passed since the closure of the Krosniewice narrow gauge – the action of a cynical mayor more interested in the rewards of property development than safeguarding this vital section of the Kujawy Railways. Sadly, our campaign to reverse this decision has not yet brought about the desired results.

The news that SKPL sent a letter to the chairman of the Przeworsk District Council announcing that they intend to terminate their operating agreement with the Council for the Przeworsk narrow gauge railway, because there are unwilling to shoulder the accumulating loses did nothing to make me feel better.

If that wasn’t enough, I received a tip off that PKP Cargo are moving out of the Gniezno Works and that a property surveyor has already been engaged to measure the site. Apparently the mayor of Gniezno is interested in… yes you’ve guessed it… property development!

A break in the clouds of sorts – a number of members of the Wielkopolska Provincial Council are interested in pursuing an EU-funded project to provide a secure base for the Poznan – Wolsztyn steam trains.  The Director of Tourism in the provincial governor’s office would like the project to encompass, not only the Wolsztyn motive power depot but also the Gniezno workshops where the Wolsztyn steam engines receive their heavy overhauls. This year, 10 million zloty has been laid aside in the Provincial Government’s budget for developing a heritage railways tourist product.

Then the clouds gather again. This money is not available for ‘hard’ investments such as rolling-stock or track refurbishment. The money will be spent on ‘soft’ activities such as writing a feasibility study and organising study visits to look at heritage railways in other countries. When I think what a difference 10 million zloty could make to – to take one example – the Smigiel Railway I want to cry.

On the subject of money, have you heard the one about PKP Cargo already losing this year – as a result of falling freight receipts as much as they lost in the whole of 2008 – some 1/2 billion zloty and that the PKP group as a whole has a 2 billion zloty hole in its 2009 budget?

Have you noticed how annoying the trams in Poznan are? They slam their doors just as you finish your sprint to the stop, then they pull forward 2 metres and then wait for an inordinate amount of time at the traffic lights with their doors locked firmly shut. Definitely, a bad day.

I trust that after this dose of ‘doom and gloom’ you will let us publish the odd historical article as well. I find them very therapeutic. If I published unrelieved ‘doom and gloom’ every day, I would not stay sane for very long!