Children of the Hârtibaciu valley want the train back
School children from the Hârtibaciu valley enthusiastically got involved in the "Our Mocănița" contest, initiated by the Friends of the Mocănița association - they documented on the history of the railway, uncovered photographs and items, learned mocănița related stories and jokes from their parents, interviewed former railway men and then illustrated in drawings and described in words how "their Mocănița" should look and why it is important that it be restored.
On Saturday, December 14th, at Gong Theatre, over 100 school children were awarded for their contribution to this contest and at the end they all shouted “Mocăniţaaa!”. It is the signal that these children are sending to all grown men who can do something about it, both at regional and national level, to restart the Sibiu - Agnita railway. The children are from now on officially "friends of the Mocănița" and will actively participate in volunteering activities on the railway.
We already knew that the Mocănița is the soul of Hârtibaciu valley, but the stories collected by children reveal that it was also the clock of the valley, which helped villagers organize their daily lives (going out to the field, lunch time, etc.). In September 2001 this "clock" stopped on the Hârtibaciu valley for reasons to do with puny interests.
Here are some arguments issued by children for grown ups:
The little train was very pleasant: in the summer it ran with opened windows and the low speed kept us safe from air draft, while all flavours of the forest and blossomed field could go in. Friendships and acquaintences were made in the train, news were heard... On Sunday afternoon the train was filled with school children that left for school in the city. They all knew each other and told so many stories that they wish they never get off the train. During winter the train was warm and passengers climbed in frozen, then fell asleep without any worry because there was always someone familiar to wake them up when they reached their destination. I am sorry never to have seen the Mocănița and would very much like to travel at least once on the little train that marked my parents' childhood. (Bârsan Gabriela, 8th grade, Marpod)
I would be very glad if the train ran again becasue it would make my parents happy. (Stoica Abigaela, 6th grade, Alţâna)
I feel like the Mocănița must return on the valley so that we can do funny trips, see new scenery and get to know Romania's beauties. (Andreea Drăgan, 5th grade, Agnita)
Mocăniţă you're a saint train / Unique on this Earth / You're the Romanian train / And that's why I cherish you. (Săsăujan Adela, 8th grade, Chirpăr)
When the Mocăniţa first arrived people welcomed her with a pile of hay, believing it is a black buffalo. (Boborodea Alexandra, 6th grade, Vurpăr)
I wish there was a carriage with many toys and, why not, even a little library. The Mocăniţa to be more spacious and passengers to walk freely inside. The conductor to wear traditional Romanian costume. Windows to be large so passengers can admire the beauties of our country. During winter to be warm and cold during summer. If it would really be as I wish, I would travel with it everywhere to see outstanding landscapes and many more which I haven't heard of. (Hauţ Camelia, 5th grade, Vurpăr)
After my grandmother shared me her dearest memories with Mocănița I thought that it would be nice if this means of transportation be restored on Hârtibaciu valley. In an era of speed where people lack the time to socialize, a trip with the Mocănița would be welcomed. Meeting others or even fall in love while travelling is something extraordinary, I think. (Botoşăneanu Mihaela, 5th grade, Nocrich)
My mother always wanted what's best for us. When I hear her talking dearly about ther childhood I wish that when I'm grown up I have such beautiful memories as well. The Mocăniţa is for my mom not only a train which she used to commute, but a train which beautified her childhood. I too wish such a train! (Banea Cornel, 6th grade, Nocrich)
There wer many people in the carriages - a true swarm. People were happy, laughing and telling all sorts of stories. Even though Mocănița was slow, time passed very quickly. My dad sais that stories he heard when travelling with the train embellished his childhood and were true life lessons. I wish Mocănița was restored on the Hârtibaciu valley so I too can listed to such stories. (Bălăban Miruna, 6th grade, Nocrich)
I would love for the Mocănița to be restored on the Hârtibaciu valley. Since it travels slow you can read a book or admire the breathtaking laandscape: shadowy forests, hills sprinkled with flocks of sheep. Maybe for some a trip with the Mocănița is a waste of time because it takes long to get to your destination, but for me it is a real challenge to learn new things and form strong friendships. (Fâţan George, 5th grade, Nocrich)
The event included a doll theatre play, as well as a guided tour of the Steam Locomotive Museum in the depot at Sibiu, where the little ones first saw a live steam locomotive and got acquainted with Mocănița's old locomotives, the same which served their parents and grandparents many years ago.
This project is implemented by the Friends of the Mocănița association in partnership with the Sibiu County Department of Culture, Hârtibaciu Microregion Local Action Group, Sibiu - Agnita Interregional Development Consortium, Mioritics association, Monumentum association and Hosman Durable association, with the financial support of the Fund for Civic Innovation, a program funded by the Trust for Civil Society in Central and Eastern Europe, sponsored by Raiffeisen Bank, administered by the Fundation for Development of Civil Society. The campaign brings into question the context and purpose of restoring the Mocănița on the Hârtibaciu valley, as well as regional and local benefits of activities which are to follow.
A round table named "Mocănița, whereto?" took place on September 19, 2013, at the School Farm in Cornățel, organized by the Friends of the Mocănița association together with the County Department of Culture, on the occasion of the International Day of Patrimony. The event was complemented by a photo exhibition inside the water tower at the nearby Cornățel railway station, as well as a ride with the moto-draisine on the railway, both organized by volunteers of the Friends of the Mocănița association.
Attending the meeting were the head of SAAF (the administrator of Sibiu-Agnita railway), Mr. George Vladimir Duhan, the head of Sibiu Department of Culture, Mr. Răzvan Pop, MP Mr. Ioan Tămâian, honorary chairman of Club Feroviar, Mr. Octavian Udriște, members of the Sibiu-Agnita Interregional Development Consortium (concessionaire of Sibiu-Agnita railway), chairman of Friends of the Mocănița association, Mr. Mihai Blotor, secretary of the Hârtibaciu Micro-region Local Action Group, Mr. Ilarion Bârsan, chairman of Mioritics association, Mr. Mihai Dragomir, chairman of the Association for Preservation of Narrow Gauge Railways in Romania, Mr. Georg Hocevar, head of department at the Brukenthal Museum, Mrs. Raluca Teodorescu, 10 British citizens representing SARUK (Sibiu-Agnita railway UK supporters group).
Purpose of the meeting was to identify strategies in order to salvage the assets of SAR, which is threatened by both the weather and the indifference of authorities. The main issue identified was that, starting January 1st 2014, the concessionaire of SAR (an association of local town halls) is forced to pay a royalty amounting to 18.180 Euro/month, according to the lease contract with SAAF. This absurd amount threatens to render impossible the SAR restoration project, furthermore it would block any attempt to attract european or private funding because it would fail the self sustainability criteria. No imaginable math calculation can guarantee to cover the more than 200.000 Euro per year (royalty), plus operating and maintenance expenses.
This was the first time that members of the Consortium, County Department of Culture and head of SAAF found themselves at the same table to discuss this extremly delicate issue. We regret though that the Sibiu County Council did not respond to our invitation to the round table.
The head of SAAF ensured of his full support towards projects to develop the area, that he supports the transfer of SAR administration towards local authorities, of which the County Council is the only legal entitled, but also stated that this initiative must be sustained by both sides.
The next step identified is that the local authority to initiate a Government Decision to transfer the administration of SAR at no cost, from SAAF to the local authority, while ownership remains that of the Romanian State. Of course, the Sibiu County Council should wish to take over the administration...
July 22, 2013
A group of young French scouts who were camped at the Scout Centre in Nocrich have deforested during last week part of the overgrown track at Țichindeal station. Ever since they planned their camp in Romania they wanted to do some community work, and part of them chose the railway. Armed with only several basic tools, but with plenty of will and enthusiasm, the more than 30 scouts managed in only two days to cut down medium trees and shed light on the stretch of track running from the station buolding at Țichindeal to the level crossing with the road to Marpod.
This is our second cooperation with the Romanian Scouts organization, after that at the GLOW camp in 2010, while others are being sketched for the future.
June 3, 2013
As has accustomed us, on June 1st the Scool Farm in Cornățel was host of events dedicated to children, their professionalism having been recognized by including the event in the Cultural Days of Sibiu County agenda. Same as before, we accepted their invitation to be partners in organizing the event, by adding rides with our draisines to the numerous attractions for children.
If last year the children flocked on the velo-draisine, this time they rode both the velo-draisine, on one of the tracks in the station at Cornățel, and the moto-draisine, on 2km of track towards Hosman. As expected, the moto-draisine was star of the day, having been appreciated by both children and their parents, some of which had the chance of driving it. Although each round-trip had the draisine overloaded, the great number of tourists took us by surprise, thus during the last trip we ran out of fuel and had to push the draisine back into the station, to the great joy of children who, apparently, never experienced such.
We ended our day exhausted, both phisically and mentally (understandable when you are around hundreds of energetic children), but the smiles on their faces made it all worthwile. Pictures from the event are available on our Facebook page.
May 27, 2013
The Sibiu Semimarathon is an event to draw funds for projects within the Sibiu community, initiated in 2012 by Fundația Comunitară Sibiu. The idea is simple, non-profit organizations, initiative groups, companies or individuals submit projects, while runners who wish to join the competition choose one of these projects, which they support with their participation fee and by mobilizing a group of supporters who share the same desire. The amount gathered is then transfered to the chosen project.
The Friends of the Mocănița association joined this year's competition with a project to restore one of the passenger carriages in Agnita. Twenty runners ran for this, representing the SAR in all five competitions: 21km semimarathon, 5km cross, 2x10.5km relay, 4x5.2km relay and children's race. Counting by the number of runners, we placed 8 out of 23 projects submitted, while our best ranking was second place in 2x10.5km relay race, thanks to Lisnic-Tompa team. According to our estimations, we reached our target, to raise 3000 lei. A major help towards this was Takata company's support for the 4x5.2km relay team of 100 lei per kilometer.
We wish to thank all runners and supporters, but also the organizers, and promise that their money will be spent wisely! You can find more pictures from the event on our Facebook page.
May 3, 2013
At the end of April a new velocipede joined the Freinds' fleet. With a single driving seat and two (or three crowded) seats on the bench, "Iasmina" was created by the same Marian, creator of the moto-draisine which we got last year.
After a short test on one of the lines in Agnita station, the draisine was put to work the same day, the volunteers having used it to spray herbicide on 2km of track from Agnita to Bârghiș swamp.
Thanks to Marian we are now able to offer tourists a new attraction, in a more remote area of the railway, as "Iasmina" will be based at Agnita.
April 29, 2013
The first tourism event of the year happened yesterday at Hosman, where we accepted an invitation from Cotaru family to give participants to their Craftsmen Fair a special treat - a ride with our moto-draisine on SAR tracks.
We collected the draisine and its trolley from the depot improvised at the School Farm in Cornățel and drove the 7km of tracks to Hosman with relative ease. A two meters length of missing rail and a track that's been recently displaced due to missing spikes were the only obstacles. Few minutes after we got there we were already assaulted by tourists, and, after an embarassing moment due to a wet spark plug, we set off on a 1.5km long ride. Rides then followed without break, in a four hour interval we made about ten round trips, all but one fully loaded.
It was yet another successfull event signed by the Friends of the Mocănița, where we formed new friendships and initiated possible cooperations.
April 18, 2013
Finally we see the result of countless hours of filming which took place last year on the SAR between Cornățel and Hosman. The famous Jameson Irish Whiskey's 'Iron Horse' commercial recently appeared on TV screens, thus spectators from all over the world can now enjoy the iron horse roaming the green pastures around Cornățel.