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.