The associations " Friend’s club of Bānītis" by involving the community of local and railway enthusiasts, aims to preservation of narrow-gauge railway heritage.
The collapse of the Soviet Union, the exhaustion of peat resources and the modernization of bog development technologies led to the gradual reduction of the role of peat railways, until in 2011 it was only eliminated and abandoned. In 2013, in order to prevent further theft of railway infrastructure and rolling stock, it was planned to demolish it. As result it turn drew attention of the Railway Enthusiasts' Association, which, in agreement with the owners of the bog and adjacent peat processing, taking over the peat railway free to use. The association unites 23 people, mostly railway and public transport enthusiasts. Since 2013, once a month on Saturdays public clean-ups are organized, during which the railway line is renewed as well as rolling stock renewal works are performed.
Once a month on Saturdays, the association organizes events for tourists, which include train rides, a tour of the peat processing plant and a tour of the local history. This practice allows the development of a unique tourism product of the region.
Baloži (town) are located only 12 km from Riga, this is a unique product of Latvia, so the events are very popular also for residents of Riga, Pieriga. The cooperation partners are the Peat Processing Company, the benefits are improved public image and managed surroundings, as well municipality of Ķekava.

Resources needed

In 2019, the association allocated 12 326, 55 EUR for the development and improvement of the railway.
In 2019 in clean-up participated 1024 volunteers.

Evidence of success

Such practices allow to involve relevant field enthusiasts, improving the knowledge and providing public activities. In 2020, about 90 different people took part in the clean-up - in most cases, the work is voluntary and unpaid.
The number of tourists have increased by years. From 2016 to 2019 visit number of one year have raised 5 times:
2016~1000 tourists;
2017~1203 tourists;
2018~3375 tourists;
2019~5214 tourists.
For instance in 2019 Museum night public event had 1250 visitors.

Difficulties encountered

1. How not to lose financial stability considering the high capital intensity of the object and the slow increase in the level of income,
2. How to maintain the level of motivation of members' participation when they are not remunerated, but the association generates income, and it hires specialist

Potential for learning or transfer

Such practices could be interesting for cases offering and developing, based on public image, cooperation with production companies that do not preserve the historical, technological and economic traditions of the place, as well as natural values.
As well this practice would be interesting for degraded objects that contain significant technological landscape, historical, natural and other values, but their preservation and development require specific knowledge and skills, as well as funding that is not at the disposal of municipalities or object owners.

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Main institution
Society "Bānīša Draugu klubs" (“Friend’s Club of Bānītis”)
Location
Latvija, Latvia (Latvija)
Start Date
August 2013
End Date
Ongoing

Contact

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