Competition with a heart of gold!


Big-hearted Rail Employee award 2013, Allianz pro Schiene.

Allianz pro Schiene (Pro-Rail Alliance) was set up in 2009 for similar reasons as Transport 2000 (now Campaign for Better Transport) in Great Britain – to fight the case for Germany’s railways. It is a rather unconventional alliance, with no other organisation in Germany having such a broad non-profit spectrum. Environmental groups, trade associations, trade unions and consumer organisations, including two automobile clubs, all work closely with the Alliance to promote rail transport. These 18 non-profit organisations, which as ordinary members formally make up the German Pro-Rail Alliance as a registered association, represent more than two million individual members.

The Alliance enjoys an excellent relationship with the railway unions with Eisenhbahn und Verkehrswerkschaft union boss Alexander Kirchner elected in 2010 as the its chairman. Kirchner succeeded Klaus-Dieter Hommel, who was national chairman of the former GDBA and became Pro-Rail Alliance chairman in 2008.

In addition to the non-profit organisations supporters, which seek to promote the railways for non-commercial reasons, the alliance has the financial support of over 100 companies working in the railway sector. This group includes train operating companies and infrastructure operators, manufacturers of railway technology, construction companies, banks and insurance companies.

The Alliance works in many imaginative ways to promote rail transport. In October, it launched a competition asking rail customers from across Germany to send in their best rail travel experiences. Passengers who witnessed helpful railway employees during an eventful train journey or who had a remarkable experience during a visit to a railway station can nominate a candidate for the Big-hearted Rail Employee award 2013. A jury made up of people from the three largest passenger interest groups and the two rail unions will choose the winners from this gallery of candidates by Easter 2013.

The competition is now in third year. In April this year, the title was awarded for the second time, with TV entertainer, Harald Schmid, making the presentation. The gold medal went to InterCity Express conductor Peter Gitzen from Cologne for putting two young teenage girls on the right train after they had become lost the night before, and for helping a pensioner to get back the BahnCard that she had mislaid. The silver medal went to DB Regio train driver Oliver Vitze from Nuremberg who had crawled over the ballast under his train to retrieve a passenger’s wedding ring. The bronze award went to Alexandra Schertler from Tegernsee for her thoughtful attention in caring for a sick passenger.

A special prize for ‘courageous public behaviour’ was awarded to DB Regio conductor Yalcin Özcan from the Südostbayernbahn, who protected his passengers from an armed and violent person who was travelling without a ticket.

How about a ‘big-hearted rail employee competition’ in Poland, anyone?


4 Responses to “Competition with a heart of gold!”

  1. Gavin Whitelaw Says:

    It will be a very short short-list!

  2. Podroznik Says:

    OK, I have a story. Last December I was traveling Poznan-Bydgoszcz with a change in Inowroclaw. There was a 3-minute connection, and in my rush I left a bag on the Poznan-Torun InterRegio. By the time I remembered, it was leaving the station.

    I got on the Bydgoszcz train and explained the problem to the conductor. He contacted the IR train, and had the conductor of that train secure the bag. He then arranged for it to be sent on the next train back to Inowroclaw. He told me “I have another run to Inowroclaw, so I’ll get the bag and bring it to Bydgoszcz. Be on the platform at 22:30 tonight.”

    I was, and he arrived with the bag. I didn’t expect to see it again, when I realized what I had done in Inowroclaw!

    Thanks to all involved!

    • Dyspozytor Says:

      “A really nice man, A really, really, nice man!” (Escapees from the UK may just remember an AA advertising campaign with this theme!

  3. Mike Says:

    I’ve had good, friendly service from the waiters in WARS recently and sleeper train attendants are usually helpful and courteous.

    Nothing that should win a prize,but I wouldn’t say that I always expect Polish rail employees to give poor service.

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