Some of the items being auctioned by WOSP

(Click on image to go to auction site).

While the aims of WOSP (The Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity) are above reproach, the decision by PKP bosses to donate ‘preserved’ steam locomotive Ty51-133 from Chabowka is a decision of crass stupidity. There are plenty of decaying PKP steam engines stuck in various sidings and if PKP really wanted to donate a steam engine it should have chosen one of these locomotives rather than one that is part of the collection of Poland’s best railway museum.

Yesterday, I spoke to one of the veterans of the 2003 campaign to save Chabowka. “I assume,” she said, “that next year we’ll be told that the cottage where Chopin was born, or perhaps Wawel Castle, will be donated to the WOSP auction.”

So far no bids have been placed for Ty-51-133. This is perhaps not surprising as the locomotive had one of the heaviest axle weights of any Polish steam engine – a static weight of 20.6 tonnes on the rear axle which combined with the effects of hammer blow from the motion could result in dynamic loads greater than 21 tonnes on the track. So, even if the locomotive was restored to working order, PKP would be unlikely to let it run.

I glanced at some of the other items that can be bid for on the WOSP auction. With a current bid of nearly 152,000 zloty (some £33,500) the red BMW Z4 Coupé donated by BMW dealers association has yet to reach its reserve price. If it doesn’t do so by the end of the auction, does this mean that the BMW dealers get to keep the car? Make a more affordable 21,000 (£4,600) zloty bid and you could end up with an 8 hour voyage in a submarine belonging to the Polish Navy, while a similar amount could put you in the co-pilot’s seat of one of Poland’s latest F16 fighter bombers. A more modest  13,000 zloty (under £3,000) bid would let you you and four friends spend a weekend in the President’s country retreat, Zamek Wisla.

These ‘experience’ donations point the way that PKP should have helped WOSP, involving lots of potential customers and gaining itself good PR into the bargin. How about a batch of railway experiences? How about, first class tickets for two to go to for an all expenses paid trip to London by train travelling by Jan Kiepura, Thalys and Eurostar; and similar first class trips to Berlin, Brussels, Cologne, Moscow, Paris and Rotterdam? Other more modest PKP ‘experience’ donations could have included a batch of cab rides on some of PKP’s more exciting routes like Krakow – Zakopany or even Poland’s longest railway journey, Szczecin -Przemysl.

With the discounts available to PKP for rail tickets plus the ability to tie-in publicity deals with the hotels where the winning bidders could stay, the whole jamboree could comfortably have been accommodated within a budget of 50,000 zloty (say £10,000). The result would have created new friends and favourable publicity for PKP, instead of the anger and frustration caused by the auction of TY51-133.

If you care about the future of Poland’s railway heritage and the skansen at Chabowka do please put pen to paper (or fingers on keyboard) and write!

4 Responses to “WOSP”

  1. Robert Hall Says:

    Admitting to a “double-take” feeling when I logged on to BTWT this morning, and seeing what I saw – “cartoon” spread of various winnable goodies, headed “WOSP” (thoughts of mis-spelled annoying stinging insects): wondered whether my typing-in of the required to get to BTWT, had somehow gone wrong and sent me into highly weird reaches of the Internet…

    Scrolling-down further, brought reality back. Concur, that though the Great Orchestra etc. has its heart in the right place, it is not acting wisely in the matter currently at issue.

  2. Macowiec Says:

    I see your point and agree wholeheartedly. Of interest, though, is the commentary of Polish fans to the article about this in Rynek Kolejowy. No one seems to be up in arms about it:


  3. John nielsen Says:

    Didn’t you notice that there was a narrow gauge steam locomotive and saloon coach on auction too! ( Wąskotorówką przez Górny Śląsk !! ) The present bid on this very interesting locomotive is ONLY on 1425 zl. It would be at great locomotive to have on the Smiegel railway. So dear Polish railroad friends, get this loco. to Smiegel. Well could the Ty 51 not be situated in Wolstzyn and made ready for traffic, it looks like it is in a very good condition. The one they have in Wolstyn could then be as it is, a static exhibit. Well just an idea which will never will be realized, I know.

    Greetings John Nielsen. Denmark.

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