The International Railway History Association (IRHA-AIHC) held its General Assembly followed by the Management Board on 20 March 2010 in Mechelen, Belgium. The IRHA was established in 2002 through the joint initiative of railways, universities, scientific societies, railway museums, scientific and cultural institutions, as well as people interested in the history and safeguarding of the archives and historic and cultural heritage of rail transport across the world. The IRHA is dedicated to the history and preservation of railway heritage, to upholding the memory of the men and women who built, ran and used the railways, and to understanding the activities and ways of life they helped bring about.
At the Mechelen General Assembly a host of new members, among them several professors at universities specialising in either industrial, transport or railway history, were admitted into the association. The Board of the IRHA-AIHC was confirmed or renewed as follows:
Chairman: Henry Jacolin, former Ambassador of France,
Vice Chairmen: Paul Véron, UIC, and Miguel Munoz Rubio, Foundation of Spanish Railways FFE,
Secretary General: Dr. Ralf Roth, Professor at Frankfurt University,
Treasurer: Andrea Giuntini, University of Modena (succeeding Erwin Mauron from SBB-CFF).
The meeting provided an opportunity to debrief following the international conference successfully held in September 2009 in Bratislava, Slovakia. This conference, based on the theme “Railways in Transition – Eastern European Railways, their Past, Present and Future from the 19th to the 21st Centuries” met all objectives thanks to the efficient support provided by railway companies from the Slovak Republic ZSR, ZSSK, and ZSSK Cargo. A book is currently being prepared containing the presentations from this conference.
The next milestone in the development of IRHA activities (after three successful historical railway conferences in Semmering, Austria, Lisbonne, and Bratislava), will be the 4th IRHA-AIHC international railway history conference on 27-29 May 2010 in Mechelen, based on the generic theme “Cities, users and their railways”. This conference is backed by SNCB, IRHA, the city of Mechelen, Lamot, and the province of Antwerp.