What’s really going on?
Ol49-59 hauling train No. 77325 consisting of three 120A coaches from Wolsztyn to Poznan Główny approaching to Luboń kolo Poznania station. Photo Radomil Binek.
(Click to see original on Wikipedia and for details of licensing.)
On Monday, the Wielkopolska regional government made an announcement that funding has been approved to ensure that the two steam-hauled turns between Wolsztyn and Poznan will be maintained during 2010. So Wolsztyn is saved and we can all relax in our armchairs? Well, perhaps not. The Wolsztyn crisis reoccurs with tedious regularity and the fact that it does so year after year suggests that someone has an agenda. We sent in our agent 003½ to investigate. This is his report.
003½ to Dyspozytor/ Future of Wolsztyn Steam Services/ 02/12/2009
There are four agendas, being pushed through by four different people. Some of the players have more than one agenda. Some of the agendas have more than one proponent. Some of the proponents would probably not publicly admit to having these agendas.
Agenda item 1. Strip Wolsztyn out of the PKP Group and let the Wielkopolska provincial government operate it as a tourist attraction.
Juliusz Engelhardt, the Under Secretary State at the Ministry of Infrastructure responsible for Poland’s railways has been heard promoting this view. It is thought that Egelhardt wants to strip unnecessary costs from PKP Cargo to clear the way for Cargo’s privatisation.
Jerzy Kriger, the Director of Transport at the Wielkopolska provincial government has also been heard pushing this development. It seems likely that Kriger wants to run a low-cost railway with modern railbuses and does not want his career prospects spoiled by being associated with anything as sentimental as steam services.
Tomasz Wiktor, the Director of Tourism at the Wielkopolska provincial government is also thought to favour this solution. The fact that the infrastructure committee recommended cutting the 3 million zloty subsidy that goes to maintain the daily steam turns and ‘giving’ the money instead to the Tourism Department makes it probable that Mr Wiktor has been busy lobbying behind the scene.
Agenda item 2. Shorten the Supply Chain. (Currently the provincial government gives a subsidy to Przewozy Regionalne which is responsible for local train services. PR in turn then pays PKP Cargo to provide the steam locomotives which haul the Wolsztyn turns.
Jerzy Kriger is thought to favour stripping out all the Wielkopolska local train services from Przewozy Regionalne and running them himself as Koleje Wielkopolskie.
Agenda item 3. Get the best possible deal from Przewozy Regionalne for operating the Steam Services.
It is known that PR originally requested a much higher subsidy for running the steam services in 2010.
After some brinkmanship Jerzy Kriger managed to push PR back to the same price as was in force in 2009 with an adjustment for inflation.
Agenda item 4. Incorporate Wolsztyn Shed into the new Wielkopolska Railway Tourism Project and run steam specials for tourists trains all over province.
It is thought likely that this is the position held by Tomasz Wiktor and also Ewa Przydrozny the Manager of the Wielkopolska Tourist Organisation. Mr Wyktor is Mrs Przydrozny boss. Her office is currently working on creating the Wielkopolska Railway Tourism strategy.
So if 003½ is even half right, it would seem to be premature to put away your pens just yet.
Some really useful addresses:
The Wielkopolska provincial government Director of Tourism
Dyrektor Departament Sportu i Turystyki
Urzad Marszalkowski Wojewodstwa Wielkopolskiego
ul. Piekary 17
tel: (061) 64-75-270, 855- 35- 22
fax: (061) 64-75-275
The Head of the Wielkopolka Tourist Organisation
Dyrektor Biura Wielkopolska Organizacja Turystyczna
ul. 27 Grudnia 17/19, Vp.
tel: 061 66 45 234 / 233
fax: 061 66 45 221