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Fundraising to save old trains

A NEW initiative wants to save two historical railway engines and three carriages in the High Tatras; the engines are known by locals as Kométa (Comet) and Škoduľa. Both are inoperable and are currently parked in the Poprad rail depot. Tatranský okrášľovací spolok (TOS), the Tatra Beautification Association, and Veterán klub železníc (VKŽ), the Railway Veteran Club, embarked on a public fundraising effort in March to repair the engines and carriages.

The Kométa historical engine hopes that public contributions will lead to its repair. (Source: SITA)

A NEW initiative wants to save two historical railway engines and three carriages in the High Tatras; the engines are known by locals as Kométa (Comet) and Škoduľa. Both are inoperable and are currently parked in the Poprad rail depot. Tatranský okrášľovací spolok (TOS), the Tatra Beautification Association, and Veterán klub železníc (VKŽ), the Railway Veteran Club, embarked on a public fundraising effort in March to repair the engines and carriages.

The first phase seeks to repair Kométa’s damaged electromotor at a cost of at least €30,000. A short circuit in the motor last August grounded it.

“This prompted us to make a public collection of money to save it. Our plan is to repair it within about a year,” Ján Sabaka of the VKŽ told the TASR newswire, adding that both engines’ motors must be repaired along with various electrical components. Other mechanical parts need to be replaced or repaired as well.

Kométa started service on March 15, 1912, so it recently marked its 100th birthday.

The funds collected will also be used to repair Škoduľa at a later date as well as to make the open summer carriages usable again, Sabaka said, adding that the full repair costs for the engines and the carriages, which were made in 1931, have not yet been calculated.

“We are trying to present past times when people were able to ride through the Tatras in open carriages, feeling the wind in their hair and feeling closer to nature,” Sabaka stated. “Kométa last operated in the Tatras in 2010 and ran about ten times a year and Škoduľa was last used in 1983,” Sabaka said, adding that TOS and VKŽ want to return this kind of regular tourist transport to the Tatras, especially on weekends. The railway in the Tatras also celebrates its 100th birthday in 2012 as the final track was laid on August 16, 1912. “The chance that Kométa could be used for the celebration of the railway’s centenary is 90 percent,” Sabaka told the SITA newswire.

Patrik Kolesár from TOS said that all the money raised in the public appeal will be used for repairs and renovation. The fundraising will continue until February 28, 2013; more information can be found at www.tos-tatry.sk.

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