President´s Corner – Summer 2022

A remarkable teamwork

During the last two years marked by the worldwide pandemics, the International Railway History Association IRHA, as many international associations and organisations, had to restrict its social activities to virtual exchanges and remote cooperation with its members. Most events – or participation of our members at external events – were held by visio and members missed the opportunity to directly meet and exchange with each other. Now concrete steps are being taken with the aim of planning and organising our next events, in particular the 9th International Railway History Conference combining face-to-face and remote participation. The Coordination committee appointed at the last General assembly of IRHA will propose the date and location for the next conference that should be open to members and participants from all parts of the world.

Nevertheless, during the same period, an outstanding work was achieved by IRHA members in connection with the preparation of the books, another main mission of our association. It has to be stressed that most members of our association have been involved at one point or another in a remarkable teamwork aiming to ensure the scientific quality of the books to be published in the wake of our railway history conferences. Significant progress has been made in this area.

In this respect we are first pleased to announce the publication in a near future of the book ‘The City and the Railway in the World from the 19th Century to the Present’ published by Taylor and Francis Ltd. Editors are our members and friends Prof.-Dr. Ralf ROTH from the University of Frankfurt/M and Paul VAN HEESVELDE from Belgium who had been the main organiser of the international railway history conference held in Mechelen on the same topic.

This book – a collection of 25 essays – explores the connections between the city development and the railways in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries with a broad geographical scope ranging from Europe to America and Asia. The book should provide useful tools to academics, researchers and experts specialised in transport, travel and urban planning.

Another publication in preparation under the IRHA umbrella is on the right track: the book with the working title ‘Railways in the First World War’ following the international IRHA conference held in November 2018 in Budapest. During the last two years an impressive work was achieved under the coordination by the editors, Henry JACOLIN, honorary president of IRHA, and Andrea GIUNTINI, IRHA vice president and chairman of the Scientific committee of the Budapest conference. I take the opportunity to pay tribute to both editors as well as to all members and authors for the remarkable teamwork. All were effectively committed to the assessment, peer reviewing, improving and rewriting of the contributions with the shared objective of ensuring the outstanding quality of the scientific content. An essential role was also played by our members and associated partners who peer reviewed the various chapters of the book as “thematic” or “geographical” leaders. Discussions are currently taking place with a publisher with the reasonable hope to formalise a fruitful cooperation for the publishing.

Last but not least, the IRHA keeps working on the future publishing of the Istanbul book or proceedings. The international railway history conference jointly organised by IRHA, UIC and Turkish State Railways TCDD end of 2016 in Istanbul was dedicated to a topical subject: ‘the Euro-Asian rail links – From the ‘Bagdad-Bahn’ to the New Rail Silk Roads’. This is a timely theme, bearing in mind the current developments of rail freight traffic linking China to Western Europe in using different variants and alternative routes for the New Rail Silk Roads. The editing committee led by Henry JACOLIN and Prof.-Dr. Ralf ROTH is currently committed to collecting up-to-date contributions from all authors including several heads of the national railway companies participating at the Silk Road projects on the Euro-Asian routes.

All this actions carried out in parallel will bear fruit and produce results in 2022 and in the following period. The continuous involvement and cooperation among members on these topics is a further illustration of the vitality and value of the IRHA for which we wish successful achievements in the near future.

AIHC – IRHA – AIHF President