Smigiel Shock – SKPL will refuse new terms

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smigiel_clouds_2

Will the Smigiel workshops become the site of a petrol station?
Photo BTWT.

(Click to enlarge.)

Yesterday (14 September) SKPL, the railway society responsible for operating the Smigiel railway, received a letter from the Smigiel Town Council proposing a change in the Society’s operating licence. Under the new terms, SKPL would become responsible for the payment of rates and other local taxes amounting to some 40,000 PLN (approximately £8,500) per annum. Up to now PKP, the Polish State Railway Company, was – in theory – responsible for payment of local taxes. In practice, in such cases PKP does not usually make any payments, but lets its local tax debt accumulate. Then when PKP transfers the railway land to the local authority it negotiates a ‘debt forgiveness’ agreement and the slate is wiped clean.

Until very recently, PKP was still the owner of the Smigiel Railway land and responsible for the local taxes. Now the transfer formalities have been completed, Smigiel Town Council are the owners of the railway land and want to saddle SKPL with the rates bill!

The Smigiel Railway’s passenger services are used mostly by school children and are subsidized to the tune of some 100,000 PLN by the Wielkopolska provincial government. The provincial governor’s office has indicated that the Smigiel Railway would have received a larger subsidy if the Smigiel Town Council also provided some financial support to its railway. In spite of earlier promises, the Town Council have yet to make any contribution. Now, by saddling SKPL with a bill for local taxes, the Council are sequestering nearly half of the provincial government subsidy for themselves.

Cynics might conclude that the Town Council want to force SKPL out so that they can use the railway land for other purposes. SKPL held an emergency board meeting today and decided to inform the Town Council that they are unable to continue to operate the railway on the new terms. We understand that SKPL intends to run services until the end of the year.

It’s been a long time since we last asked our readers to write letters. If you agree with us that the Smigiel Railway should be saved. Please write to the Mayor of Smigiel and send a copy to us at: railfan [at] go2 [dot] pl

Please write to the Mayor at this address:

Wiktor Snela
Burmistrz Smigla
Urząd Miejski Smigla
pl. Wojska Polskiego 6
64-030 Smigiel

e-mail: sekretariat@smigiel.pl

Thank you for your assistance.

Dyspozytor

smigiel_station

Will Smigiel Station become the site of a children’s playground?
Photo BTWT.

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2 Responses to “Smigiel Shock – SKPL will refuse new terms”

  1. Gavin Whitelaw Says:

    Not unexpected. Given that ALL there is in Smiegel to attract tourists IS the railway this seems an amazing own goal. But then that is what Polish capitalism is all about. I DO hope that it all blows over and some sense is sorted out from this mess.

    They have a really unique railway there and once its gone, its gone.

  2. Robert Hall Says:

    Miserable news. Have done my letter to the Mayor – re likely success and effect, “Lord of the Rings” comparisons come to mind, but you never know.

    It does seem, very sadly, that this is nowadays “the way of the world” in Poland, re narrow gauge railways – municipalities deciding that they are of the past, and a nonsense, and to be done away with – some money to be squeezed out, if possible, in the process. Thought comes to mind (maybe confusedly) — are n/g lines in Poland surviving purely on a “tourist” basis, likely to be subject to similar threats?

    Sadder still, that it doesn’t inevitably have to be this way – we learn that in Austria for instance, non-state-railways narrow gauge lines are still thriving and doing valuable “real-life” work re passenger and freight transport needs. In Poland, though, it seems – regrettably – to have bacome a case of “give a dog a bad name, and hang him”.

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