Reverse Polish Logic

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Guest post

Illustration by Jan Marcin Szancer for Julian Tuwim’s poem Lokomotywa

(Click on image to order a copy of the book.)

As a railfan, I find the actions of PKP Cargo rather strange with respect to the custody of their steam locomotives. Whilst having a positive approach to the Wolsztyn depot to the degree that they are creating a new company with the Wielkopolska provincial government, at the same time they have said indicated that they want to dispose of the Chabowka museum at the earliest opportunity. Yet they have just found resources to fund two more major boiler overhauls on Chabowka locomotives.

Bear in mind that, while Wolsztyn continues to struggle with loco maintenance having had only one loco with a major boiler rebuilt in the last four years for its daily passenger services, Chabowka has had four locos in the last four years with major boiler repairs for its 20 or so trains a year.

Can anyone explain the logic in this to me?

Yours

Disgruntled of Poznan

(Name and address withheld at the author’s request.)

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2 Responses to “Reverse Polish Logic”

  1. Joe Monty Says:

    The reality is that PKP is no longer in the business of running steam locomotives. Spinning off the Wolsztyn operation and divesting the Chabowka museum are entirely consistent moves in that they both represent a desire to exit the steam locomotive business. As a privatized company, it is not how they make their money, and when budgets get tight these things get cut. The local governments benefit from these operations continuing and the best that can happen to the Chabowka museum is for the local government to recognize its value as a tourist attraction and do what’s being done in Wolsztyn. We have many viable steam operations in the US that are a combination of local government support and non profit foundations. When I was in Wolsztyn in June, it was showing all the signs of the unwillingness of PKP to adequately fund locomotive maintenance and repairs. The changeover can’t happen fast enough.

    • Dyspozytor Says:

      I’m sure that the model of an independent foundation – which may seek financial support from private and public sources – is the way to go in Poland. Sadly Polish local authorities are remarkably loath to provide any public funds to what they regard are private foundations. Indeed some of them seem to think that there is money to be made from heritage rail operations.

      The model being proposed for Wolsztyn is that a commercial company – not a charitable foundation – will be formed in which PKP Cargo and some local authorities will have a stake. A majority stake will be held by the Wielkopolska Provincial government. Being a commercial company the new body will have a paid staff: CEO, deputy CEO, CFO etc. I rather suspect that this is where the provincial government subsidy will go not on keeping the trains running.

      The position with regard to Chabowka is different. The provincial government would like to take the museum over, but does not want to take responsibility for the running costs until it has acquired the freehold of the land – an operation which will take some time as not all the property titles have been properly registered by PKP SA. An independent foundation – albeit one supported by the local authority – may be the solution.

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