Wolsztyn Woes

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Updated 15:38 GMT

Wolsztyn – the centre of the world for steam enthusiasts

Przewozy Regionalne (PR) is in serious trouble. The local train services operator – owned by the 16 provincial governments of Poland – owes money to various PKP SA companies. It is short of cash itself, as it has not received all the money that it needs from central government nor from its local authority owners. PR’s outstanding debts include: rent for use of land to PKP SA, unpaid track access charges to PKP PLK, use of ticket offices to PKP Intercity and locomotive hire to PKP Cargo. The various parties that are owed money are threatening retaliation. Ticket offices will be closed, trains will not be permitted to run on tracks…

The craziest series of moves and counter moves has been made by PKP Cargo and PR. Owed money by PR for providing the steam locomotives that operate the Wolsztyn – Poznan timetabled services, Cargo threatened to halt the haulage of the steam hauled Wolsztyn – Poznan services. PR counter-attacked yesterday by despatching their own diesel locomotive to Wolsztyn. Ol49-59, the locomotive that was due to haul today’s steam services was steamed, the loco crew turned up, but today’s steam-hauled turns to Poznan and return are actually being hauled by a diesel! Many visitors from overseas who have visited Wielkopolska for the Easter holiday to photograph and ride on the trains will be bitterly disappointed.

When will the people in charge of Poland’s railways – PKP and PR senior management and the responsible ministers – realise that the very public war between PR and PKP is harming Poland’s railways as a whole? Does no-one care that, with the eyes of the world’s railway enthusiast community turned towards Wolsztyn and its timetable steam-hauled services, such antics make Poland appear to be little better than a banana republic?

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3 Responses to “Wolsztyn Woes”

  1. John Ball Says:

    This is crazy. It seemed to me that no country could do privatisation more stupidly than the British, but maybe I was wrong. Wolsztyn will lose out badly if a perception of unreliability for steam operation creeps in.

  2. warwickian Says:

    Lack of steam due to poltical squabbles over who owes who money is the latest in a line of things to disrupt steam at Wolsztyn. Mechanical reliability has also hampered things recently, with compressor and other failures also affecting the number of steam hauled services. If Wolsztyn is to continue to attract tourists then a regular, reliable, daily steam service needs to be provided by Cargo / PR.

  3. White Horse Pilgrim Says:

    Privatisation was not done well in the UK, but today I watched Nunney Castle leave Paddington and later stable at Didcot. Last Saturday Earl of Mount Edgcumbe passed on the main line. Before that King Edward II and Tornado. All right on time. Next week Clan Line is due. All slotted into an intense 125mph railway operation. It works because there are dedicated railway professionals making it work. None of them are seeking bribes. Vendettas are not being pursued. There are proper legal agreements in place. There is a widespread commitment to customer service, and that is key. It is not perfect. The whole arrangement is costly. But it works.

    Perhaps the answer in Poland is for open privatisation with competent foreign companies running the infrastructure and trains? In time the Poles may learn about customer-focused business. This should be a requirement before another euro of EU aid is committed. The thing that I have seen again and again in the former communist countries is EU money being tipped into “development” with no assurance that it is used properly. Often it isn’t. It’s time for a stick to be wielded proportional to the carrot.

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