News from FEDECRAIL

12

09

20

2021 - the European Year of Rail

The European Commission has proposed that 2021 be declared European Year of Rail. Events, campaigns and initiatives will promote rail as a sustainable, innovative and safe mode of transport. This European Year should help to achieve the objectives of the European Green Deal in the transport sector. Transport currently accounts for a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU. These are to be reduced by 90 percent by 2050. The European Commission stresses that rail, as one of the most sustainable and safest modes of transport, will play an important role in the European mobility system of the future. The railways connect people, regions and companies across the EU and are also a testimony to Europe's technical know-how and part of its cultural heritage.

2021 has been chosen because it will be the first full year in which the rules agreed in the fourth railway package will be implemented across the EU. 2021 will also mark a number of important anniversaries for the railways: the 20th anniversary of the first EU directive on a single transport market, the 100th anniversary of the founding of the International Union of Railways (UIC), the 175th anniversary of the first rail link between two EU capitals (Paris-Brussels) as well as 40 years of TGV, 30 years of ICE and last but not least 25 years of Eurostar and the Channel Tunnel.

The EU Parliament still has to approve the proposal.

15

08

20

EU Questionnaire on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis

The pandemic is putting the EU tourism ecosystem under unprecedented pressure. As a result of travel and other restrictions, tourism reached a gradual halt during the first quarter of 2020 in the EU and globally. The OECD estimates this decline to be from 45 to 70 percent, depending on the length of the health crisis and on the pace of recovery.

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) is preparing an opinion on the Commission communication. This is why the Rapporteur of the opinion, Mr Panagiotis Gkofas, and the study group on Tourism and transport in 2020 and beyond prepared a questionnaire to be shared with organisations from the tourism sector in the EU. The EESC will feed its findings into its opinion, which will be adopted in September 2020 and will be presented to the European Commission and other EU institutions.

Questionnaire to complete by 30 August 2020.

18

06

20

Questionnaire endagered rail heritage

The European Commission has proposed to make 2021 the European Year of Rail, because it marks several important anniversaries for rail: the 20th anniversary of the first EU Railway Package, the 175th anniversary of the first ever rail link between two EU capitals (Paris-Brussels), as well as 40 years of TGV and 30 years of ICE.(http://industrialheritage.eu/2021/European-Year-Rail)

As railways and trams, buildings, infrastructure and rolling stock are an important industrial heritage, EFAITH (European Federation of Associations of Industrial and Technical Heritage) has developed a questionnaire on "railway heritage at risk", which is decaying and in danger of being lost. A database is to be created. COVID-19 could also threaten volunteer historical railways, as the necessary income has been missing for more than three months and the next months are uncertain. EFAITH sees itself as a platform for the promotion of contacts and cooperation between volunteers and non-profit volunteer associations in Europe. The questionnaire is available in six languages.

05

06

20

Turntable in Belgium for sale

Once they were an indispensable part of railway depots for turning locomotives and other rail vehicles, today they are superfluous and very rarely found. The Belgian state railway SNCB/NMBS is now selling one of its last 24-metre turntables. It is in working order and is located on the old site of the workshop of Kinkempois/Liège in Belgium. The turntable must be dismantled and transported away by truck. An offer must be submitted by 23 June 2020. Contact: gregory.bourse@belgiantrain.be

23

05

20

David Madden died earlier this year

Those members of FEDECRAIL who knew him will be sad to learn that David Madden died at the end of January 2020. I first met David at the end of 1967 when we were both promoting the restoration of a railway in Norfolk and we became good friends. I became the chairman of the North Norfolk Railway and he was its Managing Director/General Manager. He was extremely knowledgeable of steam railway operation, acquired through experience. Although his first love was the North Norfolk Railway, he appreciated the importance of the heritage railway sector acting in unison and the importance of sharing knowledge. He served as a director of the Heritage Railway Association (HRA).

He later served as Chief Executive of WATTRAIN (the World Alliance of Tourist Trams & Trains) and attended its conferences in Argentina, Australia, UK and Japan. He was one of nature’s gentlemen and never let me down. Towards the end of his life, he suffered various degrees of dementia. Shortly before Christmas, I visited him in the care home where he was staying, having been warned by his wife, Pat, that he might not recognise me. I needn’t have worried; “Hello, David. How’s Heather?” It was just like old times, even if he did think that we were in Sheringham, some 40 miles away. I, and I suspect many others will miss him. (David Morgan, President emeritus)

14

05

20

Achenseebahn in Austria can breathe a sigh of relief

Loco no. 3 and its carriage had just successfully completed the last safety checks in Burgeck. Photo on 5 May 2020 : Gunter Mackinger

The Achenseebahn in Tyrol, which is threatened with "extinction", can breathe a sigh of relief: a brief expert report commissioned by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Art, Culture, Public Service and Sports/Department for Monument Protection confirms its historical value as a typical example of a tourist mountain railway with largely intact original technical equipment and rolling stock. Both in the regional and national context, it is a railway of railway-historical uniqueness and importance and thus an outstanding part of Austria's railway history. It is recommended to protect it as a monument in its entirety.

Furthermore, it possesses an extremely rare authenticity and originality in international comparison with regard to a continuous cogwheel and adhesion operation with largely original infrastructure and rolling stock. This also opens up the possibility that the railway will not only be protected as a national monument, but could also become part of a transnational UNESCO world heritage listing for "European Rack Railways" together with other exceptional mountain railways in the Alps in the style of the World Heritage Site "Mountain Railways in India".

There is still much work to do for trains to run this year but there is light at the end of the tunnel for the Achenseebahn team.

This report is an important step towards saving the substance of the Achensee railway.

13

05

20

UNECTO sets up Solidarity Fund for endangered railways

Like all areas of life, the museum and tourist railways have suffered greatly from the consequences of COVID-19 and they are in a difficult financial situation. UNECTO, the French umbrella organisation "Union des Exploitants de Chemins de Fer Touristiques et de Musées", has taken the initiative to set up a Solidarity Fund, in particular to support the badly affected association structures, which are not eligible for State aid and would be confronted with burdens that cannot be postponed. This fund is financed by a bank loan, which UNECTO takes out because the cash situation is good. In addition, the Association provides its members with information on measures to be taken when starting operations in the current situation: from disinfection measures to health measures for employees and volunteers.

26

03

20

The Achenseebahn is bankrupt

The Achenseebahn (Tyrol/Austria), a steam rack-and-pinion railway over six kilometres between Jenbach and Seespitz on Lake Achensee, is currently under enormous time pressure. Bankruptcy proceedings have been opened at the Innsbruck regional court over the assets of the public limited company after the Tyrolean parliament rejected further subsidies for the railway, which is in urgent need of renovation. If no liquid funds are made available by third parties within a short period of time so that liabilities due at short notice can be serviced, there is a threat of closure of the company and thus the irrevocable "end" for the historic railway. In principle, however, the Achenseebahn AG does not appear to be over-indebted in view of its assets.

The Achenseebahn is a unique cultural and historical jewel. The operation is still carried out with the more than 130 years old locomotives and carriages, which have been handed down in the original. Together with the infrastructure that has been in continuous use since the opening, these vehicles and the installations from the imperial era represent a railway technical heritage of European rank.

The insolvency administrator will now decide whether the preparations for the start of operations will be continued. A continuation of operations with subsequent redevelopment, supported by the mayors of the owner communities, would at the same time mean that the concession would be retained.

Every help is welcome to the railway as well as the signing of an international petition to save the Achensee railway (see below 12-03-20) or to become a member of the elite association of supporters of the “Achenseebahn-Förderverein 1000 Tausender e.V.” registered in Jenbach, Austria.

18

03

20

Youth exchange in England postponed to 2021

The Corona crisis unfortunately forces the hosts of the FEDECRAIL Youth Exchange 2020 to cancel the event for this year and postpone it to 2021. The Youth Exchange was originally scheduled to take place in the South West of England this August.

16

03

20

Bilbao 2020 conference postponed

Due to the current development of the corona crisis, the meetings and the lecture programme as well as the accompanying programme of the FEDECRAIL Conference 2020 in Bilbao have to be postponed. The conference team is making every effort to postpone the entire programme towards the last part of the year or even the beginning of 2021, if the situation permits.

12

03

20

Petition for the Achenseebahn in Tyrol/Austria

The Achenseebahn in Tyrol/Austria is on the verge of collapse. The regional government of Tyrol has cut its support for financing the 130-year-old railway, which is in need of renovation. Deputy Governor Josef Geisler and Ingrid Felipe declared after their last meeting with representatives of the Achenseebahn and experts that in the current state of the railway company the state's hands are tied and no further funds will be made available. However, Achenseebahn board member Martin Uhlig had hoped for this in order to preserve "the piece of tradition" in the region. The Achenseebahn is unique in still using its original locomotives which were delivered 130 years ago. Without about 400,000 € the upcoming season start at the end of April cannot take place. Any other financial help is welcome as well as the signing of an international petition for the rescue of the Achenseebahn.

10

02

20

Support for Achenseebahn in Tyrol/Austria

Achensee railway in June 2019 Photo: Gunter Mackinger

The "Achenseebahn" in the Austrian Tyrol is now hoping for a longer-term secure future after the threat to its existence from various turbulences, interruptions in operations and a change in management. Constructive talks between the Achenseebahn and the province of Tyrol as well as the payment of already promised 300,000 € of provincial funds, among other things for the salaries of the staff, seem to pave the way to lead the railway into calmer waters. All in all, following a decision by the provincial government, the Tyrolean parliament last year made funds totalling €1.2 million available for urgent restoration work and a capital increase by the municipalities. The new managing director is currently developing concepts for a secure future. Talks with the country are continuing.

In order to support the railway in its efforts, both the Association of Austrian Museum and Tourist Railways (ÖMT) and FEDECRAIL are committed to maintaining the operation of the railway. FEDECRAIL President Jaap Nieweg, in agreement with ÖMT, has written to the provincial government of Tyrol.

In this letter, Jaap Nieweg pointed out the cultural and touristic importance of the Achensee railway, from which navigation on the lake also profits. It would not be without significance for the cultural and tourist country of Austria if this cultural asset Achenseebahn, which is also an important tourist destination in Tyrol, would not survive the year 2020 as a railway in operation.

"Museums and tourist railways should not only be considered from a historical perspective, but also, if possible, in terms of their importance for the development of transport in the region in which they operate". The Achenseebahn has been a tourist railway for summer tourism for decades. In the future, however, it could also become an attraction in winter, especially at times with little snow. New concepts have been developed by the new executive board of the railway. It should also be thought of a protection status by UNESCO (world cultural heritage).

The FEDECRAIL President appeals to the Federal State of Tyrol to do everything possible to ensure the continued existence of the railway. The financial basis for a realistic future of the metre-gauge rack railway and the necessary renovation of the line must be created.

07

12

19

Invitation to the FEDECRAIL Youth Exchange 2020

This will be another great experience: The FEDECRAIL Youth Exchange 2020 will take place in the South West of England from Friday 31st July to Sunday 9th August. The hosts are member organisations of the Heritage Railway Association, the West Somerset Railway and the Seaton Tramway. Participants can expect a varied programme consisting of work experience at both of the hosts. Visits to a road steam and vintage vehicle rally and visits to other railway and historic venues are planned. There will be the opportunity to join in a variety of different cultural and organised events as part of the programme and to have the chance to network with the other international participants. Young people between 16 and 25 years and volunteer at a museum railway and interested in historic railways email at youthexchange@fedecrail.org, stating the intention to participate as soon as possible, but at the latest by the end of December 2019.

06

11

19

East Kent Railway suffers huge loss in Shepherdswell fire

The “East Kent Railway” (EKR) suffers huge loss of tools and artefacts in Shepherdswell fire late on the evening of Wednesday 30 October 2019. EKR is a heritage railway in Kent, England. It is located at Shepherdswell station on the London to Dover Priory direct mainline. Irreplaceable artefacts and £15,000 worth of equipment have been completely destroyed. The site's education and ranger station are now non-existent. In conjunction with the EKR's management, the Heritage Railway Association (HRA) is urgently requesting support for the railway, following severe damage and losses to buildings and equipment sustained during the fire. Any substantial excess raised over their immediate needs will be put into the HRA's new “hardship fund”. If someone is able to offer replacement equipment, materials and tools, please contact General Manager Matthew Plews.

27

10

19

Lively media interest in FEDECRAIL at Tren de Sóller

Tram in Sóller

The media response to the visit of a FEDECRAIL delegation to the "Tren de Sóller" in Mallorca in October was enormous. Vice-President Heimo Echensperger and Jacques Daffis as liaison officer to Spain accepted the invitation of the narrow-gauge Mallorcan railway in the northwest of the island.

The private railway company is applying for membership of the European Federation of Museum and Tourism Railways and met with lively media interest locally with this project. "Ferrocarril de Sóller SA" carries more than one million passengers a year, mainly tourists.

It operates the "Tren de Sóller", a train with historic vehicles on a 27 kilometre section between Palma and Sóller, as well as a five kilometre tramway connected to the Sóller railway station, which leads to the port.

The line was opened in 1912 and electrified in 1929. It is operated by four original electric railcars and original passenger cars too, with the rare track gauge of 914 mm. Also the tram still runs with original vehicles. It was electric from the beginning.

In the workshops. Photos: Jacques Daffis

The tram line is operated with the original three tramcars and two trailer cars from 1913. Open side cars from Tranvias de Palma were added, as well as five old trams from Lisbon, whose gauge was adjusted from 900 mm.

During the visit there was a lively exchange of experience between the representatives of the private railway company and FEDECRAIL.

15

10

19

“Cuco” fascinated participants of the youth exchange

The FEDECRAIL Youth Exchange 2019 was a complete success: In August 2019 young heritage volunteers from all over Europe met at the Railway Museum Móra La Nova, Spain – a diverse group united by the passion for and involvement with heritage railways. What they worked out together exceeded all expectations. The young people, aged from 16-25, came from Ukraine, Poland, Great Britain, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and of course Spain. As in previous years the exchange comprised a combination of work activities, heritage railway and cultural visits, as well as an opportunity for networking and fun.

The main work project of the exchange was the small steam locomotive 020T MZA606 “Cuco”, with many participants; putting in long hours beyond those scheduled, bringing a wealth of experience from their own railways and making far greater than expected progress. Meanwhile some others busied themselves with infrastructure maintenance and preparing an electric locomotive for mainline testing.

Trips out were numerous, visiting the historic collections of AZAFT (Asociación Zaragozana de Amigos del Ferrocarril y Tranvías), FGC (Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya) and The Catalan Railway Museum, along with the contemporary maintenance depot of FGC and ADIF’s (Administrador de Infraestructuras Ferroviarias) high-speed control centre together with time for a quick trip around the historic centre of Barcelona. The young volunteers still managed to find time to relax by the pool, share a drink and exchange perspectives and insights into their shared interests and industries.

Much too quickly the last night of the exchange arrived, FEDECRAIL Vice President Heimo Echensperger visited, a farewell ceremony was held, followed by a slideshow of the working life of the railways in and around Móra la Nova. Final ‘Goodbyes’, ‘Au revoirs’ and ‘Auf Wiedersehen’ completed the exchange leaving all with great memories and focused on the shared futures of our industry.

The next FEDECRAIL Youth Exchange 2020 will take place in Great Britain, organized by the Heritage Railway Association in conjunction with the Seaton Tramway and the West Somerset Railway. The county of Somerset is located in the southwest of England and the Seaton Tramway in the neighbouring county of Devon.

06

10

19

Bilbao Conference 2020 with attractive programme

Bilbao-Abando RENFE station. Photo: Ingrid Schütte

The FEDECRAIL Conference 2020 will take place from 23 to 28 April in the Basque city of Bilbao on the north coast of Spain. Following the six-day main programme, there will be the opportunity to take part in an additional tour through the narrow gauge landscape of northern Spain. Preparations are currently underway for an attractive overall programme which will appeal to delegates and Friends of FEDECRAIL as well as to partners.

Not all the details have been finalized yet so that changes may still be possible. In principle, however, there will be again two business days: the main conference day for delegates and interested persons on Friday (24/04) and the meetings of the working groups and the FEDECRAIL general meeting on Saturday (25/04). Study tours begin on Sunday. Highlights amongst others will be: a visit to the Basque Railway Museum in Azpeitia, a small town outside Bilbao. On the way back there will be a visit to the UNESCO world cultural heritage bridge Puente Bizkaia and two different cable cars that offer magnificent views over Bilbao and the Basque Country.

La Rhune Bahn. Photo: PR

Furthermore a visit to the Basque capital of Vitoria/Gasteiz including a tram ride is planned followed by the Basque Railway Workshops at Lebario. The group will also be taken by metre gauge train across to San Sebastien/Donostia before crossing into France to Hendaye for an excursion on the rack railway at La Rhune. The rack railway with open carriages climbs up the mountain in a charming landscape breathtaking summit views making the excursion a not-to-be missed experience for all participants. A visit to San Sebastian (alternative to La Rhune) may be possible for those, who want to visit the European Capital of Culture in 2016, but only if there is sufficient interest.

The partners programme always offers alternatives with exploring places, visiting museums (including the Guggenheim Museum) and shopping.

Further information will follow as a newsletter and on this website under "Conferences".


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updated 05.03.2020