An overlong passenger train is to enable thousands of encounters across Europe over weeks. One day prior to departure the ÖBB (Austrian Federal Railways) cancel the major event. Years of a seemingly hopeless struggle of a start-up entrepreneur are the consequence. Wrongly, as the court just confirmed. Now, The start-up entrepreneur can look forward again.
This project was at once the most problematic and rewarding I had ever worked on. As Business Mentor I reveled in coaching the core team of the 500 students involved through the managerial issues that surrounded the assembly and provisioning of over 500 meters of rolling stock.
On the eve of embarkation, the colossus was loaded and ready to travel across 18 European countries with a thousand participants from 97 countries. I too had my suitcase packed as one of the team, invited to travel in the historic presidential carriage.
Even the railway men were impressed by the superlatives of this project, the likes of which had never been seen before. The reaction of former Swiss Federal Council Adolf Ogi was 'Pure joy!' and the outgoing Mayor of Zurich got ready to welcome the train’s participants, along with the top representatives of ETH and the university.
ÖBB’s Gerhard Soukup and entrepreneur Bernhard Jäggle remained remarkably calm, despite the fact that around the clock, for weeks prior to the launch, they had succeeded again and again in making the impossible possible.
On 27 March 2009, this unique train and its crew eagerly awaited departure, as did the entertainers, media, security, VIPs and suppliers upon whom the train would rely in 40 European cities.
Three weeks prior to departure, an ÖBB employee had taken action which ultimately succeeded in sabotaging the journey. The consequent legal battle against powerful forces lasted almost five years. This struggle was further aggravated by the intervention of a blogger who filed a criminal complaint “for fraud” against Bernhard Jäggle. The ÖBB employee supported the blogger while simultaneously and publicly expressing his regret at the failure of the stunning project. Meanwhile, Bernhard Jäggle suffered the indignity and inconvenience of police identification procedures, the search of his home and the confiscation of all business records and his laptop. Ultimately, the proceedings against him were dismissed by the State Attorney himself.
Repeated attempts to reach an extrajudicial settlement with ÖBB Personenverkehr AG were in vain. Even the interventions of a former Austrian Vice-Chancellor were unsuccessful. And so we had no option but to proceed through the courts.
Ultimately, ÖBB lost on all points and was sentenced several times. The list of victims includes the clients, railway men, Bernhard Jäggle, his company, contractors and not least the ÖBB themselves.
Today, Bernhard Jäggle begins to return to normality, and despite the financial and emotional strains resulting from the protracted court case he remains inspired by his initial vision.
We plan to publish this case as a book, telling the straight story and revealing the incredible twists and turns outlined in the court records. Our tale will be interspersed with statements by European VIPs and some of the protagonists themselves. We will prove that against all odds, the 'underdogs' can successfully defend themselves against larger powers through their unwavering actions.
In addition, a concise booklet which outlines in 10 key points will be published, showing, how 'underdogs' can manage successfully to stand up against powerful people, even under the toughest and most prolonged circumstances.
More about the case: www.esntrain.org