By Panagiotis Giannoulas,T.H.R., vice president
A hot and very particular summer went by. Hot not only in terms of temperature but also in terms of developments for our railway. And just because THR never rests but it constantly seeks ways to grow and to achieve its goals, I will take you straight to the matter at hand…
IGE: A EUROPEAN GIANT ON RAILS
A very pleasant surprise came to our email one fine morning…Mr Armin Gotz, I.G.E.’s General Manager, emailed us to tell us he was well aware of our existence and effort and he was to travel to Greece and wished to meet us in person and have a guided tour of Thessaly Heritage Railway. We were really intrigued and happy as Mr Gotz is no stranger to Greece and the Greek railways as well. But, why is I.G.E. that important and who are they in the first place?
I.G.E. operates every kind of heritage trains and is specialized in logistics and heritage railways in general. They are based in Germany and they are one of the largest railway operating companies in Europe, featuring some of the best railway professionals.
A GERMAN IN THE THESSALIAN ‘’WILD WEST’’
And so the day arrived when Mr. Gotz honored us with his visit to Greece and to Thessaly Heritage Railway. T.H.G. vice president and writer of this article, Mr. Panagiotis Giannoulas, along with members of our team, gave a full tour of the rolling stock, the depot and the headquarters. Our unique Linke Hofmann DMU was not left out, of course. She managed to astound our guest.
And then we moved on to a guided tour of our line…what better way to get to know a railway line than travelling on it. Always accompanied by the seasoned professionals of Volos depot, we travelled the entire length of our line to Chalkodonio. The ever changing landscapes, ranging from small prairies to hillside locations and trenches greatly impressed our German guest. In his own words ‘’the line reminds me of the Wild West, it takes you back in time’’.
The journey back to Velestino depot included a prolonged stop in Aerino. We all sat together at the cozy little café next to Aerino station. This is when we sat in awe and had the honor of being exposed to the experience of a man who operates heritage trains all over Europe.
A KEY ALLY TO THESSALY HERITAGE RAILWAY
A few glasses of ouzo and a few bites later, Mr. Gotz presented us with his impressions and ideas concerning our railway. His advice on how to proceed so we can design and operate a fully functional heritage railway was of major importance to us. And so we listened and took note. He also ensured us that he will be on our side from now on, a truly major ally to us, also promising to promote our effort towards our European counterparts, so that everyone shall learn about us and can visit us in the future, when we will be able to host regular heritage trains.
Dear Armin, we wholeheartedly thank you for everything and we are looking forward to your next visit, when you will ride our trains on the Thessalian tracks, where our ‘’little’’ T.H.G aspires to become a ‘’massive’’ I.G.E. .