Wolsztyn Experience and Smigiel Town Council – Updated
On 7 February 2011, the Smigiel Railway has ran its first special train since responsibility for the line reverted back to Smigiel Town Council. The train was run under the auspices of the Wolsztyn Experience and was the first service to operate since the withdrawal of SKPL from its role of operator and infrastructure manager.
Both sides deny that this could this be the harbinger of things to come and stress that this was only a one off arrangement. Wolsztyn Experience explain that they have enough on their plate running their footplate courses and Smigiel Town Smigiel Town Council do not want to enter into any arrangements of this sort till March. However the thought does come to mind that if Smigiel Town Council – who are the line’s legal owners – were to act as infrastructure manager, and partner with another organisation, with the latter taking the role of operator, there would be no opportunity for the sort of buck passing that took place during SKPL’s tenure of the line. In addition, the Council are hardly likely to charge themselves local taxes, although these could be levied by Wielichowo Council for the rateable railway land and buildings which lie within their parish.
There are several heritage railway organisations in Poland who would be delighted – for an appropriate fee – to operate the Smigiel Railway. Wolsztyn Experience has the advantage of being head-quartered less than one hour away and has plenty of experience in promoting and running special trains. It also has access to a large group of people who work as volunteers in various capacities on UK heritage railways. If the Town Council are serious about running their railway as a tourist line, they could do no worse than consider a partnership with Wolsztyn Experience. Watch this space!