Seaside Narrow Gauge Railway in Rewal Municipality is aimed at combining the tourism potential of the area with the railway mobility offer.
The system is an alternative to private cars, which are used as the primary means of transportation for travel around the area. The municipality is inhabited by about 3 500 residents, while in the high season the area is occupied by nearly 80 000 visitors. As a result, the municipality faces many traffic and infrastructural problems, especially with congestion and parking places capacity.
The narrow-gauge railway connects the largest villages in the municipality. Most of the inhabitants live from tourism. During the summer season (from May to September) railway performs 5 tourist trips on the route Trzesacz-Pogorzelica (the main touristic part of the line has about 10 km). The railway operator cooperates with the municipal bike rental system (Rewal Bike System) and offers free transport of rented bicycles.
Seaside Narrow Gauge Railway is a commercial law company and does not receive constant financing or subsidies from the municipality. It strives to maintain the profitability of its activities. Hence, a number of diversification activities are carried out related to the use of owned infrastructure and rolling stock. In addition to the services provided for seasonal transport, the offer includes the possibility of ordering individual travel services after the season (events, conferences, guided tours, integration events) or organization of recreational and occasional events (picnics, bonfires, bike rallies).
The total cost of revitalization of the narrow-gauge line was nearly 46 million PLN, of which 15.5 million was co-financed under the Regional Operational Programme of the Westpomeranian Voivodeship (years 2007-2013). Most of the remaining funds were the own resources of Rewal Municipality.
Evidence of success
Since the launch of the seasonal connection, the number of users is growing every year. In 2016 summer season 158 844 people used the train (8 000 users more than in the previous year). The company's income grew by 2016, and at the end of the season, the income was 19% higher than in the previous year. Since the launch in 2014, the operator carried over 500 000 passengers.
The biggest problem was the delay in the implementation of the investment which was caused, inter alia, by using modern technology in form of non-contact bars. The greatest difficulty during exploitation is the necessity to fight against theft of railway infrastructure.
Potential for learning or transfer
Seaside Narrow Gauge Railway is actively developing a cooperation network on many levels. The main stakeholders and beneficiaries cooperating within the solution are local operators of tourist attractions. Within the scope of cooperation, tourist packages are offered, which combine the mobility offer with access to attractions (system of mutual discounts for services). Thereby every entrepreneur in the cooperation benefits from additional publicity and partnership. Involved entities inform each other about their offer and organize joint promotional and information campaigns. It provides synergic and mutual business effects in such cooperation.
Seaside Narrow Gauge Railway shows also that in the case of a well-developed business model and active search for financing, even seasonal transport solutions can be profitable and do not require public subsidies.
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