Welcome to Conference 2024 in Bilbao


Welcome to the the Annual General Meeting and Conference of FEDECRAIL 2024

Fedecrail are inviting members and friends to join us in Bilbao 2nd to the 5th of May. We offer everyone a great experience in the Basque area of Spain.

Our Business Sessions will have presentations, both from colleagues within the rail and tramway heritage sector and guests from external organisations with whom Fedecrail works. The programme will include break-out meetings of our specialist Working Groups such as Heritage Operating, Tramways and our Annual General Meeting. As always our
conference schedule provides valuable networking opportunities – making and renewing contacts from all parts of Europe and beyond.


For participants, the price is 560 euros per person. This includes conference or partner programs/meals/excursions. You book your hotel yourself and it is not included in the price. If you wont attend the whole conference please contact us for customized price [email protected].

Council and officers shall contact [email protected] for pricing


You book your participation via the following link:
English French German

Translation through the meetings

We’ll use Wordly as our translation tool at the conference. This allows more participants to follow the dialogue via their own smartphones, tablets, or computers. We’ll also expand the number of languages available from 3 to nearly 50+, enabling greater participation.

AI Translation, also called machine translation, uses artificial intelligence to automatically translate text from one language to another. It analyzes large amounts of text data to learn relationships between words and phrases, then translates new text in real-time. This has the potential to revolutionize communication across language barriers, offering benefits like lower cost and easier access. However, participants need their own equipment with headphones and an internet connection for it to work.


Attending online

It will be possible to participate online in parts of the activities. However, we want to be clear that these are primarily physical meetings and not an online event.

Hotel for the conference

We will hold our conference at the NH Collection Villa de Bilbao which is near the Guggenheim Museum. You book your rooms yourself through the hotel and arrange for payment. There are of course also other possibilities, but at Villa Bilbao, we have reserved rooms for you today and until 19th march.

Booking: please send an email and with the subject ‘FEDECRAIL booking’ to [email protected] 


Council or Officer book your hotel here: [email protected]

Programme for Business sessions Thursday to Sunday

Thursday 2nd of May 

For those interested in trams, we will have a visit to the Bilbao tram depot as a little add-on before the conference starts. We know this will be before Meet & Greet but after lunch. We get a show and tell over Bilbaos Tranbia.

Meet & Greet starts at 18:00 with a meet up 

We will sign you in at this time for the conference and you also get you badge, the a small mingle before the food is served.

Join us as we kick off our meeting with a meet and greet session featuring a brief welcome address by the chairman and invited guests. This gathering will take place at NH Villa Bilbao, where we’ll enjoy traditional Spanish pinchos and sangrias in a relaxed and authentic setting. It’s the perfect opportunity to mingle and network in true Spanish style!

Friday 3rd of May 

09:30 Working Groups
Join us for our upcoming Working Group meetings where we will be sharing agendas in advance. These meetings can be attended online or in person, but we would like to emphasize that they are primarily intended as physical gatherings. Your active participation is crucial as we collaborate to drive meaningful discussions and actions forward.

HOG – The Heritage Operators Group (HOG) was formed in 2008 as a platform for heritage railway operators across Europe to address common issues. In 2014, Fedecrail gained representative status with the European Rail Agency (ERA), allowing participation in key meetings. Co-chaired by Gottfried Aldrian and Stephen Wood, with Ian Leigh as secretary, the group focuses on attending various meetings and monitoring GRB emails. Current topics include ETCS, ECM, and railway legalistion, traindriver directives and so on. This is a group that make us all come together to get best practice and learn from eachother at the same time bring ypur problem up at an higher level.

Your presence and contributions to these discussions are invaluable, and we look forward to your attendance at this important meeting.

TG – FEDECRAIL recognizes the cultural significance of tramway systems across Europe and globally, with members operating on both owned and urban infrastructure. We advocate for the coexistence of modern infrastructure and heritage trams in city centers, preserving cultural heritage. Additionally, our members offer various experiences, from museums to operational trams, fostering networking and knowledge exchange. The Tramway Group aims to collaborate rather than compete, focusing on sharing best practices, supporting initiatives to broaden participation, collecting information, showcasing contributions to local culture and economy, and promoting diverse appeal to demographic groups, especially youth. Together, we strive to uphold the legacy of heritage trams and tram museums worldwide.

WIMH/EWG FEDECRAIL acknowledges the changing societal attitudes towards the environment, especially evident after the Paris climate agreement. As traditional fuels like coal and oil used in heritage railways come under scrutiny for their emissions, FEDECRAIL aims to preserve the cultural and educational value of mobile heritage while addressing environmental concerns. This involves developing a comprehensive plan with clear objectives, collaborating with other heritage organizations, and exploring ways to reduce emissions while maintaining authenticity. By aligning with global climate initiatives, advocating for the recognition of mobile heritage’s cultural significance, and implementing sustainable practices, FEDECRAIL strives to ensure the legacy of heritage railways for future generations.

13:00 Lunch 

14:00 Afternoons session, Let´s get the best experience of Each other

Join us for an engaging afternoon featuring multiple sessions tailored to your interests.  Your input is valuable as we strive to create informative and relevant sessions that address the challenges and opportunities in our industry. An afternoon session  where members can actively engage in dialogue about their needs and priorities.

14:00 We’ll begin with a brief introduction of the respective organizations present. This will be followed by a discussion on the challenges highlighted in Frankfurt and how we should prioritize among them but also add the challenges from organizations that weren´t represented in Frankfurth. We’ll conduct an exercise related to this to identify the most important issues. Then, we’ll collaborate to develop a schedule focusing on what Fedecrail will address for its members and stakeholders. (45 min)

15:00 We will conduct a dialogue and workshop to explore strategies for engaging youth in our activities. We’ll discuss what we can do to attract young people and new volunteers, as well as identify the biggest challenges we face in this endeavor. Fedecrail will work on developing a new concept specifically for youth exchanges. Hosting large youth exchanges can be challenging for members due to the required time and financial resources, which not everyone can contribute. (45 min)

16:00 We’ll leverage the Working Industrial Mobile Heritage (WIMH) initiative and explore Fedecrail’s role as an active platform for mobile cultural heritage in Europe. This involves integrating our heritage into the EU context and ensuring its inclusion in cross-border initiatives.

In our interactive session, we’ll brainstorm ideas and address key questions. President Nieweg will summarize our progress, leading us into dialogue to develop key points. This collaborative approach will help us identify concrete actions to promote mobile cultural heritage within Fedecrail’s activities. (45 min)

17:00 Marketing in Social media, how do we do it and why is it important? (30 min)

Dinner Friday 19:30
We will have a dinner on Friday at NH Villa Bilbao together. 

Saturday 4th of May

09:30 Annual General Meeting

Join us for our annual general meeting where several board positions will be up for election. We’ll also review the past year’s achievements and discuss plans for the future. Additionally, we’ve updated our digital operations, providing members with the option to participate online. Don’t miss this opportunity to contribute to shaping the direction of our organization!

You find all the documents here:
Auditors report and econmical 2023

German documents

French Documents

English Documents

Nominated to the board

Budget 2024

13:00 Lunch

14:00 Afternoon session 
Join us for an engaging afternoon featuring speakers who will address topics related to steam coal for our members, as well as our continued efforts to preserve movable cultural heritage. This promises to be an informative session with valuable insights for all attendees.

14:00 Afternoon session starts

14:15 Dmitry Babarika AZIZU, Introducing his hands-on experience: He has directly facilitated the relocation of significant railway assets from war zones. (60 min including time for questions)

15:25 Railevent – Polarexpress Rail Events Inc., established in 2000, is part of the American Heritage Railways Family. We coordinate licensed special events, promotions, and related activities for railroad and museum operators in the US, Canada, and the UK. (30 min)

16:00 “Mohon’s rotunda : how heritage railways and state company can cooperate” : continuing a long-standing and solid cooperation, SNCF and UNECTO worked together to ensure the preservation of the heritage engines and carriages stored under the Mohon rotunda (Ardennes), a site intended to be industrially revitalized.

16:45 The Hunt for the last steam, A unique photo exhibition showing life around the last steam locomotives in regular service. Jaap Nieweg will present a unique exhibition that can be rented from the Danish Railway Museum in Odense.

Friday Dinner is the Celebration of Fedecrail 30 years

FEDECRAIL, the Federation of European Museum and Tourist Railways, celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. Founded in April 1994 in Brussels under Belgian law, FEDECRAIL serves as the European parent organization for railway enthusiasts dedicated to maintaining, preserving, and operating historical railways.

With 43 members from 26 countries, comprising 650 heritage railways and railway museums, FEDECRAIL plays a vital role in connecting national parent organizations with European committees such as the EU Parliament and commissions. It is also a member of the Industrial Heritage Committee of Europa Nostra and an accredited member of the Group of Representative Bodies at the European Agency for Railways.

As an essential forum for discussion and information exchange among European Museum and Tourist Railways, FEDECRAIL organizes various activities, including the European youth exchange for young museum railway workers since 2007.

The organization’s council, managing committee, and technical representatives consist of volunteers from European member associations.

To mark its 30th anniversary, FEDECRAIL invites all members and stakeholders to join in the celebration at Restaurant Yandiola in Bilbao, Spain, on May 4th at 19:30. Yandiola is a Michelin-starred restaurant located in the beautiful cultural center Azkuna Zentroa, providing a complete experience. It’s about a 10-minute walk from the hotel, but if walking is challenging, we recommend booking a taxi or using public transportation for convenience.

Looking ahead, FEDECRAIL eagerly anticipates another 30 years of preserving and promoting Europe’s rich railway heritage.

Hope to see you there!

We look forward to a great turnout for our 30th anniversary celebration!

Join us on a visit to BML – Friends of the Basque Railway Museum of EuskoTren!

Sunday 5th May

We will leave from the hotel in the morning and get back in the afternoon.

Discover the captivating world of railway history at the Basque Railway Museum, boasting one of Europe’s most extraordinary collections. From majestic steam locomotives to sleek electric railcars, the museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the evolution of railway technology.

But the museum is more than just a showcase of locomotives. Explore the preserved mechanical workshop of the Urola Railway, frozen in time since 1925, and marvel at its intricate machinery powered by an ancient electric motor.

Embark on a journey through Spain’s picturesque countryside as we travel by train and bus, stopping at charming lunch spots along the way. Keep an eye out for the museum’s famous steam train, offering scenic rides through the Spanish landscape.

Step back in time as you delve into the history of transportation, from the old power plant with its original steam equipment to the stunning collection of railway uniforms and clocks. And don’t miss the latest addition to the museum’s collection: a Seat 600E, a symbol of Spain’s motorization process in the 1960s.

Farewell dinner at Guggenheim Bistro

As our conference draws to a close, indulge in a delightful dinner at Guggenheim Bistro, savoring the culinary delights of Bilbao’s iconic museum. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the rich history and heritage of the Basque railway and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Programme for Partners

Thursday meet and greet 18:00

Friday going 08:30 from NH Bilbao back 17:30 (9 hours)

Bus to visit the Biscay Coast visiting: Transport Bridge, Gaztelugatxe (only the viewpoint, without access to the hermitage), Bermeo, Gernika Menu lunch in a local restaurant in Gernika (menu including first dish,
second dish, dessert, wine and water) full day excursion

Biscay Coast, where we will make our first stop in order to admire the Transporter Bridge of Bizkaia, located on the mouth of the river, point of attachment of the villages of Getxo and Portugalete.
It is the world’s oldest transporter bridge and was built in 1893, designed by Alberto Palacio, one of Gustave
Eiffel’s disciples. It was the solution given by the engineer to the problem of connecting the two towns
without disrupting the maritime traffic of the Port of Bilbao and without having to build a massive structure
with long ramps. It stills been used by hundreds of passenger every day to cross the river.

After taking some pictures, we will continue the route until San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, a beautiful hermitage
that rests on a rock in the sea. We will stop at the viewpoint in order to take some photos.

We will continue on the road and we will arrive in Bermeo where we will take a walk through its streets and
fishing port.

After the visit in Bermeo, continue to Gernika, and we will visit the Assembly House and the Tree, symbol of
Basque rights and peace, with walls built around and its symbolic tree. As time passed, the role of separate
assemblies was superseded by the single assembly in Gernika, and by 1512, its oak, known as the Gernikako
Arbola, became symbolic of the traditional rights of the Basque people as a whole.

After the visit, we will enjoy the lunch in a local restaurant.

In the afternoon, short walking tour in Gernika before return to Bilbao.

Arrival in Bilbao and rest of the afternoon on your own.

Saturday 09:00 lunch at the Hotel 13:00

Embark on a captivating private morning walking tour in Bilbao, including exclusive access to the iconic Guggenheim Museum. Join our English-speaking guide as they greet you at your hotel reception and lead you through the vibrant streets of Bilbao, the bustling capital of Bizkaia. Immerse yourself in the city’s rich cultural tapestry as you explore must-see landmarks like the Cathedral of Santiago, Plaza Nueva, and the historic Old Part of Bilbao.

But the adventure doesn’t end there. We’ll journey to Abandoibarra, the city’s newest district, where the awe-inspiring Guggenheim Bilbao Museum awaits. Designed by the renowned architect Frank O. Gehry, this architectural masterpiece is a testament to innovation and creativity, providing the perfect backdrop for a guided exploration of contemporary art.

Afterward, indulge in a delicious lunch served at the hotel, followed by the rest of the afternoon at your leisure. Don’t miss out on this unforgettable experience, where history, culture, and art converge to create memories that will last a lifetime.

On Sunday we have a joint excursion to Euskotrens In the evenings we have joint dinners and activities. The joint excursion to Euskotrens museo.

In the evenings we have joint dinners and activities.

Who should take part in this Conference? – Our core participants are voting delegates for Fedecrail member organisations, our team of Council Members and support officers and our existing ‘Friends of Fedecrail’. Partners are also very welcome to join us for the parallel Partners Programme and the general programme of visits following the business sessions. We warmly welcome participation by anyone who has an active role in the management
and/or running of heritage railways and tramways, rail museums and rail and tram heritage organisations. The business programme is targeted at addressing subjects of interest to those playing such active roles. Conference fees for individual participants will need a ‘Friends of Fedecrail’ annual membership subscription at €25 euro per person.
Programme subject to change without notice.


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