The International Railway History Association (IRHA) which comprises heads of railway heritage and railway foundations, national railway history associations, academics, researchers at universities and research institutes specialised in transport and railway history, as well as individual researchers, held its General Assembly on 24 October in Rome at Italian Railways’ Headquarters at the kind invitation of the “Fondazione FS Italiane”. The Chairman of the Fondazione is Mauro Moretti, former CEO of FS Italiane – currently CEO of Finmeccanica industry group – with Eng. Luigi Cantamessa as the current Director of the Foundation.
The International Railway History Association (IRHA) is chaired by Henry Jacolin, former French Ambassador. The Vice Chairmen are Paul Véron, UIC Communications Director, and Javier Vidal Olivares, Historian, University of Alicante. The Secretary General is Prof. Dr Ralf Roth, Institute of History, J-W Goethe University in Frankfurt; the Treasurer is Mr Andrea Giuntini, Associate Professor, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia.
The Honorary Chair Person is Mrs Michele Merger, Professor ENS and Researcher. The association is supported by UIC, FFE Spanish Railways, SNCF and a number of railway associations and universities.
Participants were welcomed by the Director of the Fondazione FS Italiane, Eng. Luigi Cantamessa. In his opening presentation Eng. Cantamessa gave an overview of all the activities completed since the creation of the Fondazione FS Italiane one year ago.
The Fondazione has established at its FS headquarters in Rome (Ministry of Transport) a repository of documents, archives, maps, reports, technical drawings, Italian and international technical journals, objects and furniture that had been found in all the FS centres – the “compartimenti” – across the country. These precious archives are going through a digitisation programme.
In addition to this archive repository in Rome the Foundation manages:
- The railway museums including the National Railway Museum of Pietrarsa, one of the most important railway museums in Europe
- Operation maintenance rolling stock
- Railway lines in accordance with RFI, the FS infrastructure manager
The members of the International Railway History Association (IRHA) reviewed the activities carried out at the initiative of the association, and in particular the follow-up of the historical conferences held in Santiago de Chile and Lviv held in 2013, the publication of the books of the Bratislava conference (“Eastern European Railways in Transition”) as well proceedings of the Mechelen conference (“Cities and Railways”).
Historical conferences in 2015-2016
Future IRHA activities will include the organisation of conferences in 2015 or 2016 on the following issues:
- Railways and Literature, possibly in Germany,
- Railways and World War I
- a conference on Turkey and the Bosphorus at the crossroads of Europe, the Middle-East and Asia: Past Present and Future Perspectives,
- a conference in Africa
The feasibility and dates will be checked with all partners potentially involved.