I don't really know. To me, it's another Polish institution long overdue for reform, in need of real purpose, a jobs-for-the-boys machine. Trains should feel safe - in general they do (with one exception I'll return to). But I posit that they feel safe because of a general improvement in social trust since communist days, rather than because 3,100 SOKists hang around the network.
Are these guys here to prevent graffiti being sprayed on trains stabled overnight in depots? Or to prevent overhead power lines from being stolen? Or to prevent terrorist attacks on Polish railways? I don't rightly know. From SOK's website, it's hard to fathom what this body is all about.
Below: why is it that drinking and smoking is tolerated on Polish suburban lines? Each three-carriage unit has a guard's compartment at the front and rear. A six-carriage set will have four such compartments, three of which (not occupied by the guard) form a drinking club for Pan Heniek and Pan Ziutek returning home from work in Warsaw (or other agglomeration) to Radom, Grodzisk Maz., Żyrardów or some other distant dormitory. In these compartments, smoking and drinking are de rigeur, despite clear notices to the contrary. Smoke wafts into ordinary passenger carriages, the atmosphere is often boisterously aggressive. Guards and ticket collectors rarely venture in. This is an everyday occurrence. Where are the SOKists?
The Polish parliament was all set to reform this outdated institution, reducing the number of its ranks and making it fit for purpose for today's needs. That was five years ago - since then - no change. I suspect another PSL sinecure. What's needed is a professional body that will genuinely assess risks to the network and to the traveller and act accordingly. Until the smoker and drinkers are removed from the no-smoking, no-drinking suburban trains (or else the law is amended to permit smoking and drinking in designated compartments), I will not take SOK seriously.
This time last year:
The end of winter? So early?
This time two years ago:
How much education for the nation?
This time three years ago:
To the Catch - short story
This time four years ago:
This time six years ago:
From the family archives