News from FEDECRAIL

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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 at gm@eastkentrailway.co.uk

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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.

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“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.

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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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A great loss: Tim Fisher died at the age of 73

Tim Fisher 2011 ( Dresden/Germany ). Photo: Heimo Echensperger

It was with a huge sense of sadness that I learnt of Tim Fischer’s death at the age of 73 on Wednesday 21st August 2019. He had been suffering for some time from a rare form of leukemia; I had been aware of his therapy treatment, but each time I feared for his survival, he bounced back, full of vigour and enthusiasm. Literally, he seemed irrepressible. Sadly, this time it was not to be.

Tim was born in 1946 in New South Wales. After university, he returned to the family farm at Borro Creek near Wagga in New South Wales. Later he served in the Australian Army in Vietnam and on his return went into politics as a member of the Country Party, now the National Party, and after becoming a member of the Federal Parliament in 1984, served for three years from 1996-1999, as Deputy Prime Minister in a coalition government. He was also an ardent railway enthusiast.

I first met Tim changing terminals in Sydney Airport. Progress was very slow because he was literally besieged by many of his compatriots eager to shake him by the hand. We were both on our way to a conference on heritage railways which he was chairing. We became firm friends.

Tim attended the WATTRAIN conference in 2006 in Argentina and the subsequent triennial congresses until 2015; he was a very active supporter. He also attended two FEDECRAIL conferences and in 2009, while serving as Australia’s First Ambassador to the Holy See at the Vatican, set up a special steam train out of the Pope’s private railway station (built and given to one of his predecessors by Mussolini in 1932) in aid of the Catholic charity, CARITAS. Tim achieved this by displaying a typical flamboyant gesture when he presented his proposal to the College of Cardinals and was accused of trying to convert the Vatican Garden into a theme park. Being well prepared, Tim pulled out a photograph of the much-loved Pope John XXIII putting food parcels on a train at the Vatican bound for flood victims in Southern Italy. “So did His Holiness also try to convert the Garden into a theme park”. He won the argument, and so asked FEDECRAIL to help promote and organise the train and we had a truly memorable day.

Tim wrote several railway books, which had a fairly international feel about them, as he was knowledgeable about the development of railways round the world. He also knew many of those involved in heritage railways, steam operations and museums. Trains Unlimited in the 21st Century gives an overview of railways, both modern and heritage, on a global scale. Indeed, its foreword was written by another of WATTRAIN’s Patrons, Lord Faulkner of Worcester, President of the UK’s Heritage Railway Association and a former trustee of the National Railway Museum in York, when he paid tribute to Tim’s achievements especially on the railway front. The York museum is listed in the book’s Top Ten “Greatest Railway Museums in the World” as are the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore, led for over 20 years by Courtney Wilson, also a Patron of WATTRAIN, La Cité du Train in Mulhouse and the Italian National Railway Museum in Naples.

Tim displayed a happy knack of coining memorable phrases such as “Low Speed 1” to describe the reinstated level crossing in Sheringham connecting the North Norfolk Railway to UK’s national network when he made a presentation to a largely French audience at La Cité du Train to loud applause.

Tim Fischer stood head and shoulders above his peers both figuratively and physically. He was a man of principle, committed to his deep held beliefs, but who gained the respect and affection of all those who came into contact with him, including his opponents. When he announced his impending retirement from national politics, the leader of the Labour opposition at the time described him as “one of the very genuinely loved people in this place” (the Australian Parliament). A real statesman, unlike so many of today’s politicians, whose like we are unlikely to see again. His departure from this mortal coil marks a very real and heartfelt loss.

David Morgan

President Emeritus, WATTRAIN and FEDECRAIL

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13th FEDECRAIL Youth Exchange in Mora la Nova

Two dozen young museum railway volunteers have met in Mora la Nova (Catalonia) in northeastern Spain for this year's FEDECRAIL Youth Exchange. The host is the railway museum in Mora la Nova. This is the 13th meeting of its kind, which took place for the first time in Sweden in 2007 on the initiative of FEDECRAIL. The young people from seven nations have now met in mid-August 2019 to work together on vehicles, to get to know the region and culture of their host country and to exchange their experiences. They come from Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, Poland, Sweden, Spain and Ukraine. Some of them have already taken part in a FEDECRAIL youth exchange several times. In this way, new contacts are constantly being made among the young generation of museum railway workers.

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Strategic value of cultural heritage recognised

The tireless efforts of Europa Nostra, the European Heritage Society founded in 1963, have borne fruit: The strategic value of cultural heritage for the future of Europe - including mobile heritage - was duly mentioned in the EU's new strategic agenda 2019-2024. President Plácido Domingo addressed an open letter to EU Council President Donald Tusk and the same letter to the President of the European Commission and to each of the 28 EU Heads of State and Government during the EU Summit in Brussels in June 2019, on which the paper was to be adopted, to persuade them to endorse the agenda in this form. For Europa Nostra, the adoption is only a first step. The Monument Preservation Society is determined to follow the process closely and to contribute to the implementation of the Agenda.

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Locomotive driver wanted at Achensee

A current problem with railways is a lack of trained locomotive drivers. It does not only affect state and private railways, but also museum and tourist railways have difficulties in finding sufficient personnel. In Germany, for example, entire public train connections are temporarily cancelled because there is no driver for certain shifts. The Austrian Achenseebahn is also currently facing a difficult situation. At least two steam locomotive drivers and stokers for daily steam operation this summer are being sought. Further information is available at info@achenseebahn.at

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Historic joint turntable seeks new owner

Once they could be found every day in railway stations, today they are a relic from the steam locomotive era and can only be found occasionally: Turntables for turning rail vehicles. DB Netz AG in Germany wants to sell a historic articulated turntable from 1948. Length: 23.60 metres, load capacity: 350 tonnes, weight: approx. 50 tonnes, decommissioned since October 2004. Information at https://www.dbresale.com/verkauf/suche--xkat4--xid145125.htm

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Riga Charter on the curriculum in Taiwan

The Riga Charter, which was developed by FEDECRAIL as a statement of principles for the handling of historical railway equipment, has not only had an influence in Europe, but has in the meantime even arrived in Asia. This May it will be the focus of an event organized by the Asian Network of Industrial Heritage in Taiwan. The nearly one-week seminar for 18- to 45-year-olds, which deals with railway heritage, aims to convey the principles of the Riga Charter and to promote the preservation of historic railways in the Asia-Pacific region. (For details see https://www.surveycake.com/s/4DrdQ ) The Riga Charter was adopted unanimously by FEDECRAIL members on 16 April 2005 at their annual meeting in Anse near Lyon and had previously been proposed at the meeting in Riga/Latvia.

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25 years of FEDECRAIL: At sunrise on the Brocken

Jaap Nieweg and Pierluigi Scoizzato unfolded the FEDECRAIL flag. Photo: Heimo Echensperger

At sunrise on the Brocken by steam train - that was the highlight of our anniversary conference 2019 in the Harz mountains (Germany), where 25 years of FEDECRAIL were celebrated. Early in the morning, on the anniversary day, 16 April, the traditional train of the Harzer Schmalspurbahnen (HSB) took us from Wernigerode through the darkness up the mountain to see the dawn shortly after 6 am from the summit at 1125 m altitude. The FEDECRAIL flag was unfolded in front of the historic train in the first rays of sunshine, which coloured the remaining snow pink, as a symbol for an optimistic view into the future for museum and tourist railways.

The celebration was preceded by the FEDECRAIL General Assembly 2019 and the traditional business day in a new guise with lectures and a panel discussion during which the partners were offered an attractive sightseeing programme in the Harz mountains. The conference programme included joint excursions to the Selketalbahn and Mansfelder Bergwerksbahn as well as the Rübelandbahn and the vintage trams in Halberstadt.

Snow on the Selketalbahn.

The 26th FEDECRAIL Annual Conference was hosted by the “Verband Deutscher Museums- und Touristikbahnen” (VDMT). On the conference business day their Chairman, Hans-Jürgen Credé, gave delegates an overview of the historical development of the railways in Germany, the current significance of the museum railways and the future challenges for the VDMT and concluded his remarks with an optimistic outlook.

The foundation of the Federation had been prepared by the Morgan Commission of which six of its original members were at this conference. The 25th anniversary of the Federation was an occasion to look back on a quarter of a century of work on the one hand and to look forward to the coming years on the other. President emeritus David Morgan reminded delegates of the milestones of our achievements up to becoming a consulted member of the European Railway Agency. Brian Simpson, former Member of the European Parliament and Chairman of the Committee for Transport and Tourism and now Chairman of the Heritage Railway Association of UK and Ireland (HRA), reaffirmed the value of intensive lobbying for the museum and tourist railways and further called for special efforts after the upcoming European elections.

The past and future in the context of environmental, regulatory and heritage issues as well as visitor and staff recruitment issues formed continuous themes throughout the business day. Steve Oates (Chief Executive of the HRA) presented a study on the origin, consumption and environmental impact of coal for steam locomotives in the UK. Mimmi Mickelsen (Museibanornas Riksorganisation, Sweden) looked back on the 2018 youth exchange in Sweden and Josep Francesc Moragrega Font (Associació Preservació Patrimoni Ferroviari Industrial/Spain) announced the upcoming youth exchange in Catalonia/Spain in August 2019.

Business day with panel diskussion. Photos: Ingrid Schütte

All delegates were invited to participate in the panel discussion "In the mirror of the past - the future of historic railways". Under this title Matthias Wagener (Managing Director of the HSB), Thomas Joindot (FEDECRAIL working group HOG/ Unecto) and Harald Elsner (Verein Verkehrsamateure und Museumsbahn, Germany) answered the questions of the meeting, moderated by Michel Dispa (Museum Buurtspoorwegen/Netherlands).

Matthias Wagener gave an impression of one of the last steam-powered narrow-gauge railways in SPNV and how it meets the challenges of the present day. Thomas Joindot, in his opinion, gave a hopeful outlook from a French perspective on the next 50 years for museum railways, which have undergone fundamental changes in their self-image over the past few years and are now facing up to the increased demands on their competences. Harald Elsner, a representative of historical trams, finally appealed to the current generation of museum railway volunteers to conserve the historical vehicle material by continuing to pass on their own expertise and enthusiasm to the next generation.

The FEDECRAIL Annual Conference 2020 will take place in Bilbao, Spain.

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Bruno Fleury new Vice President of FEDECRAIL

Bruno Fleury (left) succeeds Jacques Daffis (right). Photo: Ingrid Schütte

At the last General Assembly in Wernigerode (Germany), which took place in the Harz Mountains during the 2019 Annual Conference, Bruno Fleury was elected as the new Vice-President of FEDECRAIL. He succeeds Jacques Daffis, who has held this office since 2003 and decided not to be reelected due to his age. Bruno Fleury has been a member of the board of Unecto (France) since 2015 and its vice president since 2016. Jacques Daffis remains attached to FEDECRAIL as Officer for Affairs in Spain. The terms of office of Secretary Kees Wijnnobel and of the Board members Pierluigi Scoizzato and Josef van der Perre also ended this spring. All three were re-elected for a further three years.

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Youth exchange in Catalonia/Spain has a few slots available

There are still a few slots available: The admission of participants to the 13th FEDECRAIL Youth Exchange 2019 from 9th to 18th August in Catalonia has been extended to 30 April. The organizer is the Railway Museum in Móra la Nova. Zaragoza, Rubi and Barcelona will also be visited. The attractive programme includes practical work on historic vehicles as well as cultural visits and socialising. All young members of historical railway associations between the ages of 16 and 25 can take part in the youth exchange. Information at youthexchange@fedecrail.org

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APHTRO Conference 2019 in Amman

APHTRO (Asia Pacific Heritage and Tourist Rail Organisation) invites you to their 2019 Conference in Amman, Jordan. APHTRO is an association of museum and tourist railways in the Asia-Pacific region, comprising the regions of Asia, Australia and Oceania located in or near the Western Pacific. European guests are welcome. The conference will take place from 8 to 11 October 2019 and will be hosted by the Jordan Hejaz Railways. The programme also includes (steam) train rides and a visit to the new railway museum and workshop in Amman. Everyone who is interested in historical railways and museums is very welcome. The details are: www.aphtro.info

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150 years of trams in Brussels

The Tram Museum celebrates 150 years of trams in Brussels. From 1 to 5 May 2019, there will be an attractive programme , including exhibitions and a large tram parade with 40 vehicles representing the evolution of the Brussels tramways, a European TramDriver Championship of Brussels an guided tours on board of a heritage tram. Outside Brussels, other Belgian heritage organizations are inviting to special activities during "tram week" from 27 April to 5 May: ASVi in Thuin, ETG in Ghent, VlaTAM in Antwerp, Tramsite in Schepdaal, TTO Noordzee in De Panne and TTA in Erezée. In addition, The Wallonia Public Transport Museum will be open every day throughout the tram week. More information on www.trammuseum.brussels/150years

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Urgent: Deadline for Conference and Hotel Bookings

It is time to book for our Jubilee Conference from 12th to 17th April in Wernigerode. Bookings are flowing, but plenty of places are still available. The deadline date for the conference booking and the booking your room at our main conference hotel has now been extended to Sunday 31.03. From now on we advise not to use the booking facility of the HKK website, but to book by email: info@hkk-wr.de or Tel: + 49 (0) 3943 941-0. When using these methods, please remember to always quote “Fedecrail 2019” to secure a room from our allocation and for our special FEDECRAIL prices. If you need additional help or advice, please contact the Help Desk on: conference@fedecrail.org

Many delegates will be travelling via Hannover Airport (or longer distance rail journeys via Hannover Hbf). Due to planned engineering works for the week to Sun 14.04, a number of timetable changes have been made to services in the Hannover area and S Bahn trains from the airport have been reduced to generally one train per hour. This will not affect return journeys Wernigerode > Hannover from Mon 15.04 onwards. Consult the Deutsche Bahn website: www.reiseauskunft.bahn.de

The third of our series of special Newsletters giving information about the event has now been published and is available via the "Conference" Page.

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FEDECRAIL Youth Exchange 2019 in Catalonia/Spain

Railway Museum at Móra la Nova

Preparations are complete. This year the Railway Museum at Móra la Nova will be hosting the International Youth Exchange which will enable young people from heritage railways and museums in Europe to participate in this international event. The Exchange will take place in Móra la Nova from 9th to 18th August 2019. They visit Zaragoza, Rubi and Barcelona, too. The programme includes practical work as well as cultural visits and sociability. The aim of the youth camp is to promote intercultural understanding within Europe and exchange between young people in the field of railways and everyday life. All young members of historical railway associations in the age between 16 and 25 years are invited to participate in the youth exchange. It is the 13th event, initiated by FEDECRAIL. Information can be found at youthexchange@fedecrail.org

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Jean François Andrist passed away

Jean François Andrist (1946 - 2019) passed away on 8 February 2019. The funeral was celebrated on 13 February in Collombey, his village, in the presence of many friends. Jean François spent his working life in Asia and Middle East. On his retirement, he returned home to Switzerland and he became first a volunteer at the Blonay-Chamby Railway Museum, eventually being elected as President of the Association. He worked regularly on the railway and his wife Annie also worked there as a volunteer in the kitchen or in the restaurant. After Jean François retired as President he continued as a Member of the Council and also as an active volunteer on the railway.

His illness was painful but he was full of hope with projects until his last day. (During the week before his death he asked me to book for him the Harz Conference at Wernigerode). He participated in many Fedecrail conferences to represent his Railway and was happy to discuss any subject with anybody (he spoke French, German and English fluently).

As a Member of UNECTO, he also participated regularly in their Congresses.

Jean François we will all miss you.

Our condolences we send to Annie whom we hope to meet at our future Conferences.

Jacques Daffis (Vice-President)

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A big success in Spain

The Spanish federation AGRUPACIÓN DE LOS FERROCARRILESHISTÓRICOS ESPAÑOLES (AFCHE) obtained a big success in its country. The deputies have voted in December 2018 a Proposal on the Historical Railways (HR), presented by the socialist party in the spanish parliament. The text allows them among other things to run heritage and tourist trains on closed lines: “Agreement (…) to promote, in collaboration with the regional and local entities, the enhancement of the old disused railway lines no longer belonging to the RFIG (…) as key elements for the protection of railway heritage.” RFIG means “Red Ferroviaria de Interés General”, the Spanish railway network of general interest. To run heritage and tourist trains on closed lines was forbidden, when they have lines closed since many years, although they were still in acceptable condition, due to Spanish climate.

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Jubilee Conference with "Flexi Options"

Photo: Volker Schadach

2019 will be a very special year for Fedecrail marking the 25th anniversary of the foundation of the Federation on 16th April 1994 in Belgium. Each year since 1994 FEDECRAIL has organised a combined conference and visit programme to member railways, tramways and museums in a different country annually in collaboration with one of our national umbrella organisation members. The Jubilee Conference 2019 will be held in collaboration with VDMT (Verband Deutscher Museums und Touristikbahnen) at Wernigerode in the Harz Mountains of Germany. This is the home of a remarkable steam train operation in Europe, HSB (Harzer Schmalspurbahnen) who will be the local host.

The programme will feature a Business Conference (Mon 15.04) with a wide range of speakers and other elements; General Assembly (Sun 14.04); sessions of our specialist Working Groups (Fri 12.04) and of course useful study visits (Sat 12.04 - Wed 17.04) to see how heritage railways, tramways, museums are flourishing in this part of Germany. The “Jubilee Day” Tue 16.04 will be marked by a special HSB steam train to see the dawn rise on the summit of the Brocken Mountain.

This year FEDECRAIL will be offering a wide range of ‘Flexi Options’ for participation, ranging from just a single day to the full programme - aiming to match participation to both budgets and diary pressures of potential delegates. A special invitation is extended to younger active members of rail and tram heritage organisations for whom a number of places will be available at special discount prices.

A series of special Jubilee Newsletters will be published over the five months leading up to the conference date giving latest news on the conference business, visits programme, booking arrangements and other useful information.

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Success through international cooperation

A promising example of the success of international cooperation and contacts is the restoration of a former International Ferry Van for the railway museum at Primolano (Società Veneta Ferrovie/SVF) in Veneto, Italy. The vehicle is a former international ferry van used for freight between Italy and Great Britain. There was one problem as vehicles working to the UK at that time required to be fitted with the vacuum brake in addition to the continental air brake. After closure of the train ferry service the vacuum brake was no longer needed and the end fittings were removed for the rest of its life. In order to complete the restoration of the vehicle, the railway museum volunteers have to restore the vacuum brake fittings, which no longer exist in Italy. An advertisement in HRA News and a contact to a former NRM colleague brought success. The necessary replacement pipes and fittings have been donated by the Derwent Valley Light Railway near York and will be transported by road to Italy in the coming months.

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For the 25th anniversary the "Harz Conference 2019"

Photo: Volker Schadach

2019 is an anniversary year for FEDECRAIL. The European Federation of Museum and Tourist Railways is celebrating its 25th anniversary with the "Harz Conference 2019" in Germany from 12 to 17 April. In keeping with the occasion, participants can look forward to a particularly attractive programme including the anniversary general meeting, the anniversary conference day, an extra 25-year event, excursions on the Harz narrow-gauge railways and study trips to Saxony-Anhalt.


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updated 12.04.2019