No trains from Poland to Rome?

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Carriage shortage blow to John Paul II’s beatification trains

Warsaw says farewell to Pope John Paul II, on 3 April 2005, the day after his death. From a photo on turi.fotolog.pl)

(Click image to see more photos taken in Warsaw that day. Click on the link to go to the home page of turi.fotolog.pl.)

The news that the late John Paul II’s beatification ceremony will be held in Rome on Sunday 1 May has caught PKP InterCity on its back foot. When the Pope’s funeral took place in 2005, InterCity ran 7 special trains to Rome. The company started preparations to do something similar this time – several million Poles are expected to travel to Rome for the event. An immediate press release was issued and picked up by the national press to wet the appetite of would-be travellers. A golden marketing opportunity as airlines have increased fares to and from Rome nearly 8-fold for travel on the days close to the event.

There is only one snag – InterCity doesn’t have enough railway carriages to run its normal domestic service, let alone to organise a massive international transportation exercise! A day after it started the marketing push was turned off. A corrective press release was quickly issued with the spin that InterCty is ‘assessing the availability of suitable rolling stock’. One highly placed source informs us – on the condition of strict anonymity – that InterCity may not be running any trains at all! After the various recent debacles on Poland’s railways, IC’s failure to organise special trains to Rome could be the biggest own goal of all.

New competition!

Major European railways

(Click on image to see a larger map on europeanunionmaps.com)

In an effort to do its bit to help those who would like to attend the ceremonies and travel from Poland by rail BTWT is launching a new competition! All you have to do is plan an optimum itinerary for a journey by scheduled rail services from Warsaw to Rome in time for the ceremonies and return. But before you all reach for the PKP on-line timetable, here are a few rules. The obvious route will be sold out, so no prizes for routing passengers that way. In order to fully appreciate the proceedings on the 1 May our pilgrim will need to have slept well – itineraries involving changes of trains at 02:00 hrs. or insufficient sleep in sleeping coaches will have points deducted. A certain degree of out-of-box thinking will be rewarded, but journeys that are potentially very expensive or involve excessive changes will be penalised.

It is ages since we had a competition, the last one collapsed because everyone found the questions too hard. We are hoping that this one will attract a record number of entries. Do feel free to post your entry via the BTWT comments facility or via e-mail account: railfan [at] go2 [dot] pl.

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One Response to “No trains from Poland to Rome?”

  1. David Hughes Says:

    a) Ensure that the Minister for Infrastructure is invited; b) travel via Lodz.

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