The New Europe Railway Heritage Trust (NERHT) often sponsors young volunteers from the East to take part in the annual Fedecrail Youth Exchange, and view of the situation in Ukraine we were keen to arrange for a group of Ukrainians go to this year’s Youth Exchange which was due to be held in Britain, so when this unfortunately had to be cancelled we decided to give them our own study tour of British preserved railways and museums.
Since men of military age can’t now leave Ukraine, our partners AZIZU (the Ukrainian Railway Heritage Association) and the Line 102 project nominated six young women who spent ten days in Britain in August where they visited the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, the East Lancashire Railway, Bury Transport Museum, the Heaton Park Tramway, the National Railway Museum, York and the LondonTransport Museum and met members of the Ukrainian communities in Lancashire and Yorkshire and London who provided guides and interpreters. As with other NERHT study tours, we were able to arrange the tour on a low budget thanks to the generosity of those who welcomed the group and with the help of some cash donations, including a grant from FEDECRAIL. The young visitors have written to say how much the tour will help their work in developing railway preservation and railway tourism in Ukraine.
Ukraine has a fascinating transport heritage and over the years NERHT has supported various railway preservation ventures there which, sadly, are now largely on hold because of the conflict. Post-war reconstruction must surely involve tourist development, including railway tourism, and when peace returns, we in NERHT hope to work with FEDECRAIL and give our Ukrainian friends the help they will need to make progress with their preservation schemes.
Stephen Wiggs – Chairman, New Europe Railway Heritage Trust