Back on track: Train buffs raise cash to restore ‘protest train at heart of June 1976 strikes’
Train enthusiasts in Wrocław have come together to rescue a locomotive that played a central role in the June 1976 protests in Poland.
Members of the Railway Sympathisers Club in the city are raising money to renovate the historical locomotive known by its number, the EP05-22.
In June that year, the country was shaken by a series of violent protests against price increases.
About 70,000-80,000 people, mainly workers, took part in the strikes.
According to historians from the Institute of National Remembrance, at least 90 factories rose up in protest.
One of the biggest took place on June 25 in Zakłady Mechaniczne in Ursus, where the EP05-22 became a silent participant.
The strikers had gone onto the tracks to stop trains and the first to be stopped was the fast train "Opolanin" (run by the EP05-22).
Workers unhooked the locomotive from the wagons and pushed it with their own hands to where a section of the track had been dismantled.
A photo from the time shows them pushing it off the tracks.
That evening, the authorities announced that the price increases were being cancelled. Protesters who were still in Ursus were beaten and arrested by the police.
The EP05-22 continued to travel Poland until it was withdrawn in the early 2000s. It was moved from Warsaw to Kraków, before ending up in Wrocław in 2019.
With the 45th anniversary of the protests in June this year, the Club hopes to have the locomative fully restored by then.
With the Club low on funds due to the coronavirus (its main source of the income is providing rolling stock for retro journeys), it has launched an appeal on Polish crowdfunding platform zrzutka.pl, where they hope to raise 30,000 złoty (around 6,600 euros).
The money will be spent on grinding and welding accessories, paints, varnishes and painting accessories, renovating the locomotive's aluminium finishes, and completing and refreshing its headlights, among other things.