Gniezno roundhouse PKP reply – part 1


BTWT guest writer Robert Hall responded to our August campaign regarding the future of Gniezno’s historic locomotive depot. Now he has received a detailed reply (5 pages in Polish!) from PKP main board member Pawel Olczyk regarding PKP property disposal policy – and developments to date – as they affect the future of Gniezno roundhouse. Because of the length of the letter, we are translating and publishing it in two instalments. The first part of the letter dwells at length on PKPs financial problems and casts a pessimistic tone, while the second…

[If you want to see whether the second part of the letter offers any hope for the preservation of the roundhouse as a railway museum, you will have to log-on to BTWT tomorrow! D.]

In reply to your letter expressing your concern that the hundred-year-old buildings of Gniezno locomotive depot should be conserved for future generations, I would like to take this opportunity to explain the current PKP SA position and the actions taken so far regarding the matter.

Your letter confirms your interest in Poland, and specifically its railway heritage, so I am sure that the general situation regarding Polish railways will be familiar to you. Since the end of the 1980s, the country has been undergoing a social and economic transformation and this, taken in conjunction with the rapid changes in the world’s economy, has demanded that the country’s railways also undergo an appropriate transformation.

Under the aegis of a special Act of Parliament regarding the Commercialisation, Restructuring and Privatisation of the State Enterprise, Polish State Railways, the state enterprise Polish State Railways (PKP) has been commercialised and transformed into a joint stock company, PKP SA.

The next step that took place was the creation of a number of subsidiary companies. Utilising the appropriate real estate and human resources of PKP SA a number of companies were created: operating companies; a company to manage the railway infrastructure, and companies providing support services to the latter, as well as other companies whose activities are not connected with railway transport.

A historical debt of several billions dating back to the times when PKP was a state enterprise was retained on the books of PKP SA and the management and repayment of this debt remained the responsibility of the company. PKP SA also retained responsibility for companies controlling real estate and human assets that were surplus to its requirements.

As a working assumption it was accepted that the surplus assets no longer needed by the newly created company’s would be retained by PKP SA and that the company would seek to repay its debt from asset sales – principally from the sales of real estate and the sales of the shares of the privatised companies

In spite of many positive effects of the restructuring process there were serious time delays caused by the unavoidable procedures necessary to regularise the legal status of real estate and to prepare the subsidiary companies for privatisation. Consequently the situation arose whereby the proceeds from asset sales proved to be insufficient to meet the actual requirements needs of PKP SA and the company continues to experience financial problems.

In such a situation PKP SA, bearing in mind its responsibilities and mindful of its statutory responsibilities and other legal obligations, takes particular care with regard to the optimum development of real estate in order to achieve the most favourable financial effect.

It is important to emphasise that intention of the Act was that PKP SA manages its assets, particularly by: transfer to other companies; outright sale; transfer for use in return for financial benefit under agreements according to the civil code; as well as the disposal of its surplus assets…

As part of the process of optimally managing its real estate portfolio PKP carries out analysis of the commercial potential of land no longer required for railway operational use and for which a future use should be indicated. Much of this real estate has heritage value.

Such an analysis was carried out also with regard to the real estate adjacent to Gniezno railway station including the area of locomotive depot which was the subject of your letter.


One Response to “Gniezno roundhouse PKP reply – part 1”

  1. Joe Monty Says:

    The most comparable situation in the US is Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton Pennsylvania, where the abandoned Erie Lackawanna shops and roundhouse were converted into an operating railway museum. Adjacent to the property is a large shopping mall accessible by pedestrian bridge from the rail yard. The museum and mall complement each other as it brings business into town for both. Mom can shop at the mall while dad and the kids are playing train at the museum. Although heavily criticized as a case of “pork barrel” government spending it has brought life into anotherwise dying industrial and coal mining town. The museum has National Park status and is not privately owned by the railroad (which was bankrupt anyway). The Lackawanna main line track that they operate over would have been abandoned, but is now being considered for restoration of commuter rails service to New York City. This would not have happened if the line had been torn up.

    Despite the numerous critcisms of the project it has been a win win for everyone concerned. Similar thinking could transfrom Gneizo shops into a local asset as well.

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