The Polish Way, or TV’s late launch



Smigiel Railway transporter goods train by Marek Ciesielski

Regular readers of BTWT will have noticed a certain raggedness in our posting of late. Also the launch of our sister blog Tunnel Vision was a great non-event with huge gaps between posts. I would like apologise to all for the disruption. The reason why our publishing had developed a ‘hot box’ was that I had become heavily involved in bidding for a some very interesting railway work in Poland.

A certain Polish tourist organisation – no names, no packdrill – is about to implement a major EU funded project to promote railway tourism in their home province. The area includes several narrow gauge railways, some standard gauge ‘platelayer trolley railways’ and several other railway attractions. The work that was being put out to tender was to prepare a feasibility study – look at the major risks and uncertainties and suggest ways that they could be minimised.

One of the tender requirements was that the work should be lead by two PhD.’s – one to coordinate the tourism related work, the other to coordinate the analysis of the rolling stock and railway infrastructure which was to be the basis of the project. Strangely enough it was not a requirement that anybody bidding for the work actually knew anything about museum or tourist railways!

I found the idea of working on this project very attractive – at last there would be an opportunity to make a major contribution to the development of heritage trailways in Poland, rather than just writing about them on BTWT. I searched high and low for the PhD’s and finally found both of them. One was a university professor who had been working in the field of niche tourism during the last 17 years, the other a senior railway engineer with a major railway research and technology institute, both had had experience of similar work during the last two years – another requirement. My own role would have been to analyse the management abilities of the organisations running the various railway attractions in the province and to look at some of the regulatory and fiscal challenges which confronted them.

I put together a consortium including both our experts. It would be formally lead by a company specialising in writing EU projects. Their managing director is a stickler for quality unlike many others working in the same field. In many ways a dream team – so why was our bid not even considered? Our tourism expert had the wrong PhD! He had obtained his doctorate in sociology writing a thesis about how people spend their leisure time and culture, but the tender called for a PhD in economics, geography or politics. If he had obtained a doctorate in politics by writing a thesis on democracy in Athens at the time of Socrates our bid would have gone forward for consideration.

This is the way whereby some Poles repeatedly kick the ball into their own goal.


One Response to “The Polish Way, or TV’s late launch”

  1. Robert Hall Says:

    Carrying on with the classical-antiquity theme — at times, you must feel like Sisyphus…

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