Posts Tagged ‘Juliusz Engelhardt’

English lessons

Friday, 12 March 2010

A wagonload of steel from Germany arrives in Srem in December 2009. The Czempin – Srem line is operated by SKPL and is in the process of being taken over by Srem municipality. Further takeovers of branchlines by local authorities are unlikely to receive the support of rail minister, Juliusz Engelhardt. Photo Jacek Stawinski, SKPL.

Hopped onto a Tanie Linie Kolejowe (PKP Intercity’s ‘cheap’ brand) train to Warsaw to take part in a conference about the future of Polish rail and in particular Przewozy Rejonalne Poland’s second train operator owned by the 16 provincial governments. Other panel members included Juliusz Engelhardt, the Undersecretary of State responsible for railways at the Ministry of Infrastructure, and Janusz Piechocinski, the Vice-chairman of the Sejm Infrastructure Committee.

In the short slot allocated to me I pointed out that the privatisation of BR did not bring about many of the benefits that it was supposed to. Because it was carried out by breaking BR up into over 100 separate companies, it actually increased the cost to the taxpayer of maintaining the railways by a factor of three – and still the UK has the most expensive fares in Europe.

Janusz Piechocinski leaves early, but I get a shot at asking the Minister Engelhardt a question. Given the reappraisal of wagonload freight traffic recently evidenced by the creation of the Xrail Alliance. Would the Minister agree that it would be rather strange for a freight to carry right across Europe by rail only to have to complete its last leg in Poland by road? A number of local authorities have taken over their local branchlines in order to keep them operational in the manner of the shortline railroads of the USA. However, during the transition period – before a local authority has been granted the freehold of the railway land and only possess an operating licence, it would appear that Polish law prevents the local authority from applying for EU funds or investing its own monies in the railway. Would the Minister talk to his colleagues in the relevant Ministries in an attempt to resolve this situation.

Mr Engelhardt replies that, it is a mistake to think that PKP or the Ministry don’t want to hand over disused branchlines. Rather it is the case that a number of local authorities have announced that they want to take over their local branchlines, because local government elections are looming. They are very naive and have no idea at all of the burden of legal and regulatory obligations which they would acquire if they take over the railway.

He has avoided answering my question and I lob in a supplementary. I apologise for my poor Polish, no criticism of the Minister, the Ministry or PKP was intended. My question was about those lines that had already been transferred by PKP SA to local authorities, but where – because property transfer formalities were not complete – the local authorities felt that they were precluded from making any investment in the railway infrastructure. The Minister gives a similar answer to the one he gave before, pouring scorn on the efforts of local authorities to take over their branchlines. His answer does not bode well for Poland’s shortline promoters including my Polish narrow gauge friends and local authority bosses like Jozef Zajkowski struggling to take over the Lapy – Ostroleka railway line from PKP.

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Malopolska province to take over Chabowka,

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

but will the skills follow the engines?

A Chabowka fitter makes a new part for Ol 12-7 in Jan 2008, BTWT photo

In a development that BTWT anticipated a month ago, a reliable source told us that an understanding has now been reached between Juliusz Engelhardt, Undersecretary of State at the Ministry of Infrasructure and Chief Executive of Malopolska province, Marek Nawara, regarding the transfer of the Chabowka museum to Malopolska province.

On hearing the news, Mrs Grazyna Sysiak, the General Manager of the museum, was speechless. Mrs Sysiak and her staff had lobbied hard to save the museum when it was slated for closure in 2003, and now they face an uncertain future. It’s a sad reflection of the management style of PKP Cargo that although the Cargo Board was aware that these discussions were taking place, no one thought fit to inform the people most concerned.

The British-Polish Railway and Industrial Heritage Partnership – the ‘umbrella’ name for the Anglo-Poles who added their voices to Mrs Sysiak’s campaign in 2003 – will be making representations to the Malopolska Chief Executive’s office that Chabowka is not just a collection of historic locomotives and rolling stock, but a repository of essential technical skills that must also be preserved.

First the good news…

Friday, 27 June 2008


David Morgan addresses Polish Heritage Railway managers in Poznan in 2007

(click to see photo on Fundacja Era Parowozow website)

One of BTWT’s reliable sources reports on a meeting that took place on 25 June between David Morgan, President of Fedecrail, and Juliusz Engelhardt, Under Secretary of State at the Ministry Of Infrastructure, responsible for Poland’s railways. Fedecrail is the European Federation of Museum and Tourist Railways and has been working with a number of Polish heritage railway organisations, as well as the British-Polish Railway and Industrial Heritage Partnership, to assist in the creation of a national umbrella body for the Polish heritage railway movement. In Great Britain, such an umbrella body, the Heritage Railway Association, has existed since the 1960s and Mr Morgan is also its chairman.

Mr Morgan came to Poland to tell the Minister of Fedecrail’s concern about the closure of the Krosniewice Railway. At Fedecrail’s Annual General Meeting, which took place in Salzburg in April this year, a resolution (pdf file) was passed urging the Mayor of Krosniewice to reopen the railway. Mr Morgan also raised the matter of the imminent end of the steam haulage of ordinary scheduled trains at Wolsztyn and the prospect of the sale by tender and scrapping of much of Poland’s railway heritage.

Mr Engelhardt, explained that it was his understanding that the Krosniewice Railway had been closed because of lack of cash. Although he could not offer financial support he could offer moral support to efforts to reopen the railway and help set up meetings with the local authorities.

All BTWT activists who wrote a letter to Barbara Herman (the Mayor of Krosniewice who was responsible for closing the railway) and then copied their letter to Cezary Garbarczyk (Mr Engelhardt’s boss, the Minister of Infrastructure) can now give themselves a pat on the back.

…then the bad.

With respect to Wolsztyn, Mr Engelhardt said he recognised that Wolsztyn was now probably unique, not only in Europe, but also in the whole world. It would certainly continue as a steam shed servicing steam locomotives for special events like the Wolsztyn Steam Gala and for special trains. The only aspect over which there was a question mark was the continuation of steam-hauled ordinary service trains, because the operation of railbuses was much cheaper.

This confirms our worst fears about the future of scheduled steam at Wolsztyn. We will be consulting all the key stakeholders, and then recommending what the best course of action is for BTWT activists.

Mr Engelhardt concluded by saying that he had no knowledge of the sale by tender of railway heritage items to which Mr Morgan had referred and that his view was that items of Polish railway heritage should stay in Poland.

Mr Morgan will be asking Polish railway societies to follow up in detail with the minister a number of the specific points that had been raised at the meeting.