Archive for November 17th, 2009

Straws in the wind

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Invitation from the Railway Museum

Great! I thought, as the e-mail from the Railway Museum in Warsaw landed with a virtual thud in my ‘In’ box. It’s good to see that the Museum is fighting back.

…we will be opening a new exhibition. We would be delighted if you would join us for the preview. Attendance is by invitation only. We would be pleased to see you there.

Wonderful! Perhaps a new gallery devoted to the history of Polish narrow gauge railways and the role they played in the rebirth of the nation? Clicking on the enclosure that came with the e-mail revealed the picture above, the cover to an invitation to view the finalists of the Miss Steam Engine World competition and to watch a fashion show showing the designs of Sylwia Snoch. I must admit to a twinge of disappointment. I like my vodka and my steam engines neat. I would no more dream of mixing Zubrowka with Coke than of draping scantily clad schoolgirls over a Bulleid pacific.

But who is to say that I am right? As the chaps from Fedecrail never tire of saying, Polish problems need Polish solutions. Credit where credit is due, Ferdynand Ruszczyc, the new director of the Railway Museum, is making a big effort to promote the Railway Museum. This is a massive improvement compared to the underground profile that the Museum maintained under his predecessor.

Talking of Fedecrail, a new Polish umbrella body, the Polish Federation Of Museum, Tourist and Local Railways (PFKMTL), was formed on 21 October and at the Fedcrail meeting in Budapest on 14 November was admitted as a member of the European federation. So far only four Polish societies have joined: Pomorskie Towarzystwo Milosnikow Kolei Zelaznych (Zulaw Narrow Gauge Railway), Stowarzyszenie Gornoslaskich Kolei Dojazdowych (Upper Silesia Marrow Gauge Railway & Starachowice Narrow Gauge Railway), Towarzystwo Milosnikow Koszalinskiej Waskotorowki (Koszalin Narrow Gauge Railway) and SKPL (Kalisz Railway, Smigiel Railway, Przeworsk Railway, Pleszew Railway and Srem-Czempin standard gauge line). Between them, the four societies operate 10 railways totalling some 200 km.

It has taken some six years for the idea of a Polish umbrella body to become a reality, since David Morgan, the President of Fedcrail, first planted the seed at a railway heritage conference held 6 years ago in Warsaw. We wish the new body success with their campaigns and hope that other Polish railway societies will join the organisation in due course.

SKPL winning the battle for the future of the Smigiel Railway, the Railway Museum promoting itself harder than ever before, a new umbrella body to fight the cause of Polish heritage railways – a fair wind is blowing at long last!