Ilfracombe rail link with Lithuania

A unique link has been forged between North Devon and Lithuania with the help of a local railway enthusiast. Following holidays in the Baltic state, quite by chance Tony Olsson from Ilfracombe found himself involved helping to translate a new magazine for

A unique link has been forged between North Devon and Lithuania with the help of a local railway enthusiast.

Following holidays in the Baltic state, quite by chance Tony Olsson from Ilfracombe found himself involved helping to translate a new magazine for railway buffs into English, despite being unable to speak a word of Lithuanian.

Tony has worked on the first Lithuanian and English version of the Baltic Railways Magazine, providing the correct technical terms and turning the "raw translation" into something that can be distributed to train fans in the UK and America.

Despite having a thriving rail network, with huge steam and diesel locomotives and massive line trains on five-foot Russian gauge track, until now railway enthusiasts have been thin on the ground in the Baltic States.


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Until the countries of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia became independent from the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, taking a close interest in railways could attract attention from the state and put the would-be hobbyist on a track to jail.

It makes the Baltic Railways Magazine, edited by Tony's Lithuanian friend Zilvinus Urbutis, something of a groundbreaking publication and the Ilfracombe man is keen to help promote it over here and in America.

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"I go over there on holidays, but as a railway enthusiast I discovered the magazine quite by chance at the British Embassy in Vilnius, the capital," he explained.

"There are a lot of strange turns of phrase that need correcting and on technical matters concerning trains and locomotives they often don't know what the correct words would be."

Tony has been asked to work on the next issue too and he is keen to promote the region as well as the magazine itself.

"I really love the area, with its huge number of lakes and forests, it's a lovely place and I admire the people and the way they stood up to the Soviet Union when they went for independence in 1991," he added.

Zilvinus told the Gazette he hoped the work with Tony would help to connect Lithuanian and British railway fans and enable the two countries to learn more about each other. Rail fans can find out more about the magazine at www.railbaltic.eu

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