School children aboard the Revolution Train during a trial tour
The Revolution Train, which is to comprise multimedia interactive exhibits in eight carriages warning school children of the dangers of drugs including alcohol and tobacco, was conceived 10 years ago, however, only three of the wagons have been completed and the train still doesn’t have permission from the Railway Authority to use the rail network. Some drug experts say it’s likely to be an ineffective project and the money would be better spent elsewhere; others say it is indeed a revolutionary project.
Conceived by Pavel Tuma, the Revolution Train was officially launched in 2005 and is billed as a completely original drug prevention and healthy lifestyle promotion project for school children aged between 12 and 16. Apart from screening films, the mobile center incorporates interactive exhibits that draw on the sense of touch — and even smell. One of the completed wagons, for example, has been styled as a life-sized replica of a squalid drug addicts’ den, complete with unpleasant odors.
Battle over author rights
The Revolution Train has been stalled due to lack of finances and a legal battle with Tuma, who is no longer working on the project. “He wants all rights to the project, which of course he’s entitled to do. The project is his idea, but 15 other experts have contributed to the project … It’s as if an architect has been paid for a designing a project but then demands to live in the building,” the project’s The project has been dismissed as ineffective and wasteful by a group of prominent psychologists and addiction specialists.current manager, Filip Lukáš, told Czech Position, claiming that Tuma is “psychologically ill,” and wants the entire project halted.
Lukáš says the train could be ready within six months, but adds that another Kč 25 million to Kč 30 million is needed to complete all eight wagons. The project received Kč 7 million in 2010 from the Central Bohemian Region and another Kč 8 million in 2011, along with some Kč 10 million from private sponsors.
The project team has reached provisional agreements with several large companies who see the project not only as a worthwhile cause but also a very good marketing opportunity, he told Czech Position. “Literally thousands of children will visit the train each year, so of course it’s interesting for them,” Lukáš said.
The project has been dismissed by some experts as likely to prove ineffective and wasteful. A group of prominent psychologists and addiction specialists, and representatives of several drug prevention and rehabilitation projects, say they are now struggling to survive due to regional funding being diverted to the Revolution Train. Political opponents claim the Central Bohemian region Governor, David Rath, a member of the main opposition center-left Social Democrats (ČSSD) is using the project as a personal public relations opportunity.
The Revolution Train also faces bureaucratic hurdles: The Railway Authority (DÚ) has not yet granted permission for the train to use the Czech rail network, Hospodářské noviny (HN) reported June 28. “The project’s ‘There’s never been such a thing on the railways before, therefore some administrative complications are inevitable.’authors haven’t approached us or submitted any documentation whatsoever. In our opinion it should not travel,” the director of the DÚ’s rolling stock department, Jiří Hanuš, told HN.
Nevertheless, the three completed carriages have made trial journeys and the project’s current director, Tomáš Bartoš, says a rail expert is collaborating on the project and preparing all of the documentation necessary to receive DÚ approval.
“There’s never been such a thing on the railways before; therefore, some administrative complications are inevitable,” he told Czech Position, adding that the carriages must be fully converted and completed before an application for an operating license can be submitted to the Railway Authority, which oversees all rail operators and the national rail network owner (SŽDC).
One of the carrigaes contains a crash scene to warn of the dangers of driving under the influence of drink and drugs
Lukáš said the HN report was misleading and that for the recent trial tour of the towns of Rakovník, Nové Strašecí, Slaný and Čáslav, a licensed private rail operator, the Club of Friends of Railways (SPŽ), provided the locomotive and the project’s three completed wagons with papers confirming that they had passed all technical controls to be pulled by a licensed operator.
Czech railways operator České dráhy (ČD), which is listed as main partner of the Revolution Train on the project’s website, says it is not currently involved in the project. “České dráhy is not cooperating on the project either financially or with its organization,” Radek Joklík from the company’s press department told Czech Position. He did say, however, that ex-ČD executive director Petr Kousal, who resigned in 2005, pledged organizational support when the project was unveiled and that it would cooperate with the project to negotiate the use of stations.
Left versus Right
When the Revolution Train project was launched in 2005, it was officially endorsed by, among others, the office of government and then Prime Minister Stanislav Gross, former health minister, Milada Emmerová, and former interior minister, František Bublan — all members of the ČSSD, now in opposition.