Great Continental Railway Journeys – Poland

Tuesday, 25 November 2014 by

Portillo cab view

Michael Portillo rides the cab of Ol49-59.
Still courtesy BBC TV.

The BBC series “Great Continental Railway Journeys” is currently airing on UK television.  The latest series (3) devoted an episode to Poland.

Filmed in the spring of this year, the Michael Portillo and his Bradshaw guide start their journey in the restored heart of Warsaw, before travelling to Lodz, once a cotton capital to rival Manchester.

His Poznan stop includes the obligatory visit to the goats in the Rynek (Market Square), and the Kaiser’s Castle (or Palace) a short walk from the railway station.  The footage of the station is of the new concrete and glass structure (also known as “Poznan City Center” shopping centre), rather than the older building, or even the Dworzec Letni.

Portillo finds time to visit Wolsztyn, referring to it being the place where scheduled from where steam services still run.  His visit, on April 7, fell a few days after the suspension of the service, which as readers will know, has still not recommenced. His footplate ride out to Nowa Wies involved a special train, as there were no scheduled services.  Viewers can draw their own conclusions about his firing (watch the gloves and style).

The onward journey and visit to Wroclaw involved a visit around the Bombardier railway works, formerly known as Linke-Hoffman (before the war) and Pafawag (after the war), before travelling out of Wroclaw via the restored Wroclaw Głowny station.

The shots of Krakow are the familiar Rynek and Mariacki church, and a trip around the Stalinist-era Nowa Huta, grafted onto the side of the old town by the communist regime.

The full programme is available to UK residents for another 3 weeks on the BBC iPlayer here. Sadly viewers in Poland without a proxy server are blocked.

Wolsztyn elects new mayor

Monday, 24 November 2014 by

Wojciech Lis

Wojciech Lis, the newly elected Mayor of Wolsztyn.
Photo Wojciech Lis.

The recent local elections have seen a change in leadership in Wolsztyn.

The new Mayor is Wojciech Lis, known to many for his factual and regular updates on the Wolsztyn steam scene through his website parowozy.com.pl, which he has operated for well over a decade.

It is clear that since the suspension of the regular scheduled service, the town has been substantially quieter.  It is hoped that such an openly pro-steam mayor will vigorously push for the reinstatement of the daily steam services.

Behind the Water Tower congratulates Mr Lis on his election, and wishes him well for his tenure.

PKP Intercity ticketing system collapses – Heads roll

Tuesday, 18 November 2014 by

No PKP IC

Tomorrow’s morning trains from Lodz to Warsaw. Only the Przewozy Regionalne online booking service is working. Image TK Telecom train timetable portal.

(Click image to expand.)

The relaunch of PKP Intercity’s ticketing system, timed to coincide with the sale of tickets for the new Pendolino service starting in December,  has ended in farce.  Launched on Sunday 16 November, the service quickly collapsed, and whilst booking offices at stations have been resolved, the online service, which handles Intercity’s sales is still down.  Ticket machines are also affected.  Together, they handle 10% of sales.  No timetable is given for resolution. As of this evening, the online service remains unusable.

PKPIC null

PKP IC’s own ticket portal displays a dearth of information.

A crisis team has been set up, and the problem blamed on the lack of compatibility with the new system, and the existing archaic systems used throughout the PKP network.

Heads have rolled.  Paweł Hordyński, the board member with responsibility for IT and the new ticketing system has been removed from his post.  A further two directors have also gone.

As a means of apology, Intercity have increased the availability of the cheapest tickets (49zl) for the new Pendolino service threefold.  Assuming there is a means for buying them…

Intercity have stated that the launch date for the Pendolino is unaffected.

Gniezno District Railway, 1939 (Part 4)

Friday, 12 September 2014 by

by ‘Inzynier’

(continued from: Gniezno District Railway, 1939 – Part 3)

After a good night’s sleep in Gniezno, it is time for us to continue our 1939 journey, right the way across the Gniezno system…

tx2-355-koronowo-1969

Tx2-355 in later years at Koronowo (1969). This locomotive arrived in Gniezno around 1937. Photo Ton Pruissen.

(Click to see the original image on Wciaz pod para)

Today we are to travel to the eastern end of the Gniezno system at Anastazewo. However, the Mondays and Thursdays train to that station runs late in the day, so we spend some time looking round the city: the cathedral, main square and surrounding streets are all delightful. We have a relaxed time and gradually make our way to the main station. We pause here relatively briefly, conscious that prolonged observation of standard gauge operations may arouse suspicions of spying.

Soon, therefore, we find ourselves back at the narrow gauge station which, in contrast to the hive of activity at the standard gauge station, is quietly slumbering in the afternoon sunshine. The loco depot and workshops are conveniently located alongside the station building, so we are able to observe the motive power fleet. Inside the shed we can just see 0-6-0T+Ts Nos. 7 and 8, while 0-8-0T No. 9 is in steam in front of the shed and 0-8-0T+T No. 10 is parked in a nearby siding(25). There are also railcars 2 and 3(26).

Eventually there are signs of life and railcar 3 trundles across to the platform to form the 16.50 service to Witkowo. As departure time nears, a respectable number of passengers arrive, having finished their day’s business in the city, and the last few find it is standing room only. As we head out of the city a number of people leave the train at the various halts. Not until a brief stop at Niechanowo do any passengers join the train – from that point we are on new territory and start to pay more attention to our surroundings.

witkowo

Witkowo. The narrow gauge railway runs mainly in the roadside verge. Extract from the WIG map of 1935.

(Click to download the full size map. Warning: Very large file)

The railway runs alongside a lane to the halt at Miroszka, with its loading loop by the farm, at which a couple of people get off(27). We continue alongside the lane, crossing a few trackways, and then re-join the main Witkowo road shortly before the halt (and loading loop) at Malachowo. We then cross the road but continue alongside it and pass another loading loop. Then, approaching Witkowo, we cross the road again and enter the station, where a couple of sidings hold a few wagons. The train terminates here and, as it will be a few hours before another train arrives to take us on to Anastazewo, we head into the town square to find some sustenance at a cafe. The 16km journey has taken 38 minutes, an average speed of 25kph, again showing the advantages of railcars.

After our meal we wander round the town and back to the station and we now take the opportunity to study our surroundings. Witkowo was the original terminus of the railway and the first thing we notice is that the station building is at an angle to the platform and through tracks; until the 1920s the main line ran on the other side of the building and for about half a kilometre was some way to the north of the current alignment. The former station tracks are now sidings, from the furthest north of which a line runs back westward to serve, via a wagon turntable, a warehouse. On the current main line there is a passing loop, and to the south a fan of sidings serves a store and weighbridge, but of the three road loco depot only the turntable remains, the shed itself having been demolished a few years ago.

Eventually, the 21.20 for Anastazewo arrives behind 0-8-0T No. 6(28). The three coaches and van that make up the train are well in excess of requirements for this time of day (there appear to be only two other passengers) but will no doubt be required for the return working tomorrow morning as the train heads into the city. We swiftly board the train and are on our way again, crossing a street and passing through a freight yard, from which a field railway branches north for perhaps a couple of kilometres to serve a farm(29).

Passing round the northern side of town, the line crosses another street, following which a siding runs off to the right to serve a timber yard. After a few more streets there follows a siding to the left serving a sawmill, then we swing right to cross the road to Powidz, alongside which we run to the halt at Strzyzewo. Then we cross the road and run round the north side of the village before coming alongside the road again on our right. After running alongside the road for some time we cross over to the south side, pass the halt and loading loop at Wiekowo and cross back to the north side, run parallel to the road again for a while and then curve away to the north, past the halt and loading loop at Lugi, followed by the siding running back to the right to serve the sand/gravel workings.

powidz

Powidz and Przybrodzin. Extract from the WIG map of 1935.

(Click to download the full size map. Warning: Very large file)

In contrast to the previous section, which was mostly straight or nearly so, the next kilometre or two see us winding through fields and scrub until we reach a trackway, which we follow for a while, passing the halt at Charbin. Then come two tight curves, interspersed with a straight section alongside another track, following which another section alongside a track takes us past a couple of sidings on the left to a sawmill; this was the terminus of a field railway which preceded the district railway. Soon comes Powidz station, where the other passengers leave the train.

The layout of the station was clearly set out as a terminus, for the station building sits squarely across the end of the yard while the main line and passing loop curve sharply left. From the loop, three sidings branch off to the right, two terminating in front of the station building while the third leads to a turntable, with a line branching back from that to the two-road loco shed.

powidz-station

Powidz Station between 1905 and 1915. 

(Click to see the original image on fotopolska.eu)

After a brief pause we start away again, crossing the road(30). Again we pass round the north side of the town, cross a road and then run alongside the lake, passing Przybrodzin halt and then crossing an isthmus and passing the halts at Ostrowo Nowe and Ostrowo Stare, the latter having a loading loop on the left. We have now entered a wilderness of former frontier country and the halt at Rusin passes almost unnoticed in the fading light and the surrounding woodland. Finally, some 22km from Witkowo (38km from Gniezno), we pull into the former border station at Anastazewo.

anastazewo

Anastazewo, the eastern end of the Gniezno district railway. Extract from the WIG map of 1935.

(Click to download the full size map. Warning: Very large file)

It is after 10pm and the next train eastward will not depart until after 6am tomorrow. When this was a border crossing there were no doubt additional facilities but today it is, quite frankly, a station in the middle of nowhere, representing only the boundary between the Gniezno district railway to the west and the PKP railway to the east.

Our train has arrived on a line that terminates just short of the station building which, like that at Powidz, sits across the end of the station. To the left is the run-round loop and beyond that, on the other side of a roadway, a siding. To the right is the PKP line eastward, along with another run-round/passing loop, and the two-road loco depot. The crew spend some time watering No. 6, filling the boiler and banking the fire before leaving it to simmer for a few hours. Fortunately, as the temperature drops quite markedly, we are able to join the crew in the depot and grab a few hours’ sleep.

Anastazewo in 1984 retained much of its earlier atmosphere despite the broader gauge. Video © Andrzej Mastalerz.

to be continued…

NOTES

25) Gniezno 7 was Krauss works no 6624 of 1912, originally named ‘Anastazewo’. It was renumbered 1 in 1939 (I have assumed after the German occupation), and taken into PKP stock in 1949, becoming Py1-721. It was withdrawn in 1955. Gniezno 8 was Krauss works no 6803 of 1913, became 2 in 1939, PKP’s Py1-722 and was withdrawn in 1957. Gniezno 9 was Orenstein & Koppel works no 6960 of 1915, became 3 in 1939, went to Wrzesnia after 1945, became PKP’s Tx1-354 and went to Mlawa in 1956, became Tx2-354 from 1961 and was withdrawn in 1963. Gniezno 10 was Orenstein & Koppel works no 7865 of 1916, being bought on military instructions to serve Goslawice sugar factory during the First World War. It was renumbered 4 in 1939 and was scrapped or sold in 1949.

26) Gniezno’s railcar 2 was built in the railway’s own workshops in 1931, having a bogie at the front and a single axle at the rear. It was taken into PKP stock in 1949 and became Mzy-21. It was regauged to 750mm at Koronowo on the Bydgoszcz system and then went to the Gdansk system in March 1951, working from Lisewo, but was withdrawn in 1954. Railcar 3 was also built in the railway’s own workshops, in 1935, but had two bogies. It became PKP’s Mzx-045, was also regauged at Koronowo and sent to the Gdansk system in March 1951. In 1952 it was allocated to Lisewo but in 1953 was set aside due to the lack of spare parts. It was scrapped in 1956.

27) The Niechanowo – Witkowo section opened in 1896 and was converted to 750mm gauge in 1957. It is still open for tourist trains.

28) Gniezno 6 was Orenstein & Koppel works no 5020 of 1911. It was built for the German military and initially numbered HF 302. It became PKP’s D2-401 after the First World War and is believed to have worked on the Mlawa system until being sold to the Gniezno district railway in 1937 (more recent information suggests it did not arrive until after the German invasion). It was taken into PKP stock again in 1949 and became Tx1-355, went to Bialosliwie in 1956, then to Mlawa, and to Koronowo in 1962. It was withdrawn in 1970 and is now in the museum at Wenecja.

29) The Witkowo – Powidz section opened in 1897, was converted to 750mm gauge in 1957 and is still open for tourist trains.

30) Powidz – Anastazewo opened in 1911, was converted to 750mm gauge in 1957 and is still open for tourist trains as far as Ostrowo Stare, although the section beyond there is currently out of use due to the need for repairs to the track.

Dramatic derailment in Switzerland

Wednesday, 13 August 2014 by

accident_police_photo

The derailed carriages seen from the loco. Photo Graubünden Police.

News of a serious railway accident in Switzerland is always an extraordinary event – Swiss railways are amongst the safest in the world.

The accident occurred at approximately 12:45 on Wednesday 13 August. A train was travelling from St. Moritz to Chur on the Albula section of the Rhaetian Railway between Tiefencastel and Solis. The leading carriage just behind the locomotive was hit by a landslide. The carriage plunged down a ravine and fortunately snagged on some trees before it could gather enough momentum to crash through the forest.

The second coach ended up hanging over the brink of the embankment. The passengers were asked to walk to the back of the coach to keep it stable. The third coach also derailed, but remained upright on the tracks. The rear bogie of the locomotive was also apparently derailed, but the driver promptly brought the engine to a halt and it remained upright on the tracks.

The derailment location near Tiefencastel, Switzerland. Google Maps.

Some two inches of rain fell on Wednesday morning downhill – equivalent to the normal rainfall in the whole of August. The earth and soil, weakened by the rain poured down onto a 15m section of track. In some places the debris piled up 3m high.

Fortunately, there were no casualties – 5 passengers were seriously injured, 6 less so. None are in danger. Those unable to walk were taken to hospital from the scene by helicopter. Some 200 passengers were guided through a tunnel by members of staff and then taken by cars to Tiefencastel station from where they continued their journey by coach.

The Albula section of the Rhaetian Railway is expected to remain closed for two days while the landside is cleared and the hillside secured.

Photos:

Background:

Videos of journeys on the RB

Krosniewice death watch

Monday, 11 August 2014 by

With perhaps, the future of the daily ex Wolsztyn steam services being the one exception, no campaign has mobilised BTWT readers as much as the battle to save the Krosniewice Narrow Gauge Railway. Alas it seems that all our attempts – as well as the stalwart efforts of local enthusiasts – have failed to influence the decision makers.

As the various local authorities prepare to take over sections of the line, rip up the track and convert them into cycle paths, on July 6 our reporter paid a last nostalgic visit to photograph the railway’s remains at Ozorkow and Krosniewice.

The text and photographs in this article may be republished under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International licence.

Krosniewice-1020907

Volunteers tidy the path leading to the narrow gauge platform at Ozorkow. An Open Day is held each Sunday afternoon at the station. Photo (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) BTWT.

(All photos can be expanded by double clicking on the images.)

In its heyday the Kujawy Narrow Gauge Railways – comprising some 1,000 km of 600mm and 750mm lines – were Poland’s largest narrow gauge network. Starting from various independent agricultural and sugar beet railways the lines were expanded and connected together into a 600mm network for the purposes of supplying the Prussian forces during WW I.

When Poland recovered its independence the ‘main line’ was converted to 750mm. PKP constructed two new buildings at Krosniewice in the latest Art Deco style – the station building and the running shed.

Krosniewice-1020903

One of the attractions of the Sunday Open Days is the possibility of a ride on a platelayer’s trolley. Local volunteers pose with an itinerant Englishman. Photo (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) BTWT.

The Kujawy Railways survived WWW II and some of the remaining 600mm feeder lines were converted to 750mm gauge. At the start of 1991, PKP reorganised the Kujawy Narrow Gauge Railways into three independent railways the Gniezno Narrow Gauge Railway, the Sompolno Narrow Gauge Railway, and the Krosniewice Narrow Gauge Railway.

The Krosniewice Railway and the Gniezno Railway – but not the Sompolno Railway – were two of the some two dozen railways that were rescued from the wholesale destruction of the remaining PKP narrow gauge lines in 2001.

Thanks to co-operation between the then Mayor of Krosniewice, and the former PKP general manager of the line, the Town Council decided to acquire the Krosniewice line from PKP.

 

Krosniewice-1020919

At first sight Krosniewice station appears to be open. Closer inspection reveals to two changes wrought by Barbara Herman, the Mayor of  Krosniewice – the removal of the level crossing barriers across the main road, and the grave-like display of flowers in the platelayer’s trolley next to the level crossing. Photo (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) BTWT.

While the legal formalities for the transfer of the ownership of the line proceeded, the Council obtained an operating licence from PKP SA granted which it sub-licensed to SKPL, a society set up with the objective of carrying on operations on the recently closed narrow gauge railways.

The line’s future seemed secure. SKPL operated a regular passenger service on weekdays linking Krosniewice to the PKP stations at Ostrowy and Krzewie. On market days the service was extended to Dabrowice and Wielka Wies Kujawska.

But the main work on the line was freight – carrying supplies to and refined sugar from sugar refineries situated on the network. At the peak of SKPL operations the line was carrying 100,000 tonnes of freight a year.

Krosniewice-1020921

Looking to the North – everything appears neat and tidy. Photo (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) BTWT.

The legal wheels turned but slowly – Polish law required PKP to recreate the missing deeds for all the parcels of land over which the line ran before a formal handover could be concluded with Krosniewice Council.

Meanwhile, as a gesture of good faith, PKP transferred the ownership of all the line’s rolling stock – including a working Px48 steam locomotive – to the Council.

Unlike PKP, SKPL received no central government subsidy. During the off-season it was sometimes difficult to find the money to purchase replacement parts for the diesel locomotives and pay staff.

Slowly, disused feeder lines began to vanish…  .

Krosniewice-1020918

But a peek across the wall shows that every piece of glass is smashed in the skylight of the workshop roof. Photo BTWT.

Meanwhile a group of railway enthusiasts started clearing the overgrown trackbed on the disused track bed between Ozorkow and Krosniewice. While senior SKPL management – based in the Zbiersk Cukrownia HQ of the Kalisz narrow gauge railway – backed their efforts, relations with management and staff at Krosniewice were strained.

Perhaps the greatest achievement of local railway enthusiasts was when GDDKiA (Poland’s Directorate of Trunk Roads and Motorways) decided that they needed to take over a section of the narrow gauge railway in the vicinity of Topola Krolewska to build a new wide viaduct across the Lodz-Kutno railway line. Thanks to the energetic lobbying of the enthusiasts, the GDDKiA ended up having to construct a brand new viaduct for the narrow gauge line as well!

Krosniewice-1020910

The narrow gauge freight wagons have received no attention since the line’s closure. Photo (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) BTWT.

In 2006, at special meeting in Ozorkow the supporters of the line decided to formally constitute themselves into the Kujawy Narrow Gauge Railways Society. SKPL Chairman, Tomasz Strapagiel, attended the meeting and gave the venture his support.

The Society acquired a passenger coach from the defunct Piotrkow Trybunalski narrow gauge railway and restored it to running order. The Society’s volunteers cleared the trackbed from Krzewie to Ozorkow and, with the co-operation of SKPL, a number of special trains – which proved very popular – were run through to Ozorkow.

Krosniewice-1020915

The Art Deco building in the background is the running shed. Photo (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) BTWT.

Then in 2007 or thereabouts a new Mayor was elected in Krosniewice. Whereas the previous Mayor saw the Krosniewice Railway primarily as a transport undertaking, the new Mayor – Barbara Herman – saw the railway as a lucrative development opportunity.

Soon she visited the line, in the company of the local PKP property surveyor, and expressed an interest in demolishing the historic workshop buildings in order to make was for a major new property development – the General Wladyslaw Anders Centre.

Krosniewice-1020917

Recently repainted, the point lever and indicator adds a surreal touch. Photo (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) BTWT.

Mrs Herman requested that SKPL vacate the workshop buildings. The General Manager pointed out that SKPL needed the workshops to maintain the transporter wagons used to carry the standard gauge freight wagons. The Mayor countered that she had no interest in carrying ant freight though she might be prepared to countenance a small ‘fun fair railway’ somewhere on the site.

SKPL refused to vacate the workshop buildings. The Mayor countered by terminating SKPL’s licence to operate the railway.

Krosniewice-1020916

These coal trucks have a special compartment for a brakeman and were last used on sugar beet trains. Photo (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) BTWT.

The last train ran on 31 March, 2008. Ironically SKPL were in negotiation with a bulk aggregate supplier to deliver several hundred tonnes of roadstone required for building the A2 and A1 motorways. Ads a result of the Mayor’s decision roads in the Lodz Province were subject to tens of thousands of tonne km of unnecessary road traffic.

The Mayor’s decision provoked a massive storm of protest. Realising which way the wind was blowing, the Mayor trimmed her sails maintaining a public stance that she supported the reopening of the railway. She even allowed local activists to organise a couple of special trains from Krosniewice to Ozorkow to demonstrate her good intentions. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the Mayor continued her attempts to have the workshop buildings demolished.

Krosniewice-1020911

Barely visible under the undergrowth – a line of standard gauge transporter wagons. Photo (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) BTWT.

But the Mayor’s plans hit an unexpected obstacle in the form of the Wojewodzki Konserwator Zabytkow, Mr Wojciech Szygendowski. Mr Szygendowski refused to grant permission to have the historic listed buildings demolished.

With her plans apparently thwarted the Mayor decided to reverse her predecessor’s decision to acquire the whole of the Krsoniewice Narrow Gauge Railway from PKP. Instead she came up with the plan that each local council should acquire just that section of line that lay within the its own administrative boundaries.

Now the demise of the railway could become a collective affair – one council could use the line for a cycle path, another for road improvements… and as the line died section by section and the historic workshop buildings deteriorated she could try yet again to have them demolished.

Krosniewice-1020909

The low buildings were the machine shops. The smashed windows and doors tell their own story. Photo (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) BTWT.

Without any maintenance, the workshop buildings deteriorate year by year. Unless a ‘white knight’ appears on the scene it seems increasingly like that Mrs Barbara Herman will succeed in her plan to bring about the final end of the Krosniewice Railway.

Further reading:

Wolszstyn steam – proceed with caution

Saturday, 2 August 2014 by

semafor_2

Junction colour light signal. From a photo by Henryk Żychowski.

Thanks to the efforts of Howard Jones – who created the ‘Wolsztyn Experience’ and negotiated an agreement to market footplate passes to international railway enthusiasts – daily steam passenger services (with occasional interruptions) have survived for some 17 years since the end of regular steam haulage on Poland’s railways. A proportion of Wolsztyn Experience’s revenues helps to subsidize the running costs of the shed and the repair of individual locomotives.

Wolsztyn Shed is the last such installation in Europe and most certainly in the Northern Hemisphere. Visitors come from all around the world and contribute an estimated 1 million Euro to the Wielkopolska economy. Howard Jones, himself, was awarded the MBE for his efforts.

Since March this year, the daily steam workings have been suspended and the Wolsztyn locomotives have only been steamed spasmodically mainly to haul the Turkol specials. Meanwhile the principle stakeholders: the Chief Executive (Marszałek) of Wielkopolska Province, PKP Cargo, Koleje Wielkopolskie (Wielkopolska Railways) and the Mayor of Wolsztyn have been hammering out a deal to create a new organisation to run manage the shed and its locomotives in the future.

Now, at last, an agreement in principle has been reached, the formal documents are being drafted, and – after several postponements – early September has been announced as the time when everything is to be signed and sealed.

The depot will be managed by a new body with the legal status of a cultural foundation. The foundation will be able to accept and seek grants and donations and, if well-managed, should ensure that the future of the shed is secure. This scheme has received the backing of Brian Simpson, MEP, when he was chair of the European Parliament’s Transport and Tourism Committee.

But while the future of the Wolsztyn Shed would seem to be secure, the future of the daily steam services may be less so. One of the stakeholders, Koleje Wielkopolskie (controlled by the Marszałek), is less than enthusiastic about the daily steam workings (the feature that made Wolsztyn unique) and would prefer steam operations to be restricted to a limited number of special trains and the attitude of the Mayor of Wolsztyn is said to be ambivalent.

BTWT readers have already sent many letters about the future of the Wolsztyn steam workings. Maybe now is the time the one last letter? It would be opportune to congratulate the key players on the progress achieved so far towards securing the future of the shed, and at the same time pointing out that, without a daily steam service, Wolsztyn is just another – not very special – railway museum.

These we believe are the people whose resolve needs to be strengthened:

The Mayor of Wolsztyn

mgr Andrzej Rogozinski
Burmistrz Wolsztyna
Urząd Miejsji
Rynek 1
64-200 Wolsztyn
POLAND

mob. 606 972 203
tel. 68 347 45 0
fax. 68 3842747
e-mail. burmistrz@wolsztyn.pl

The Chief Executive of Wielkopolska province

Marek Woźniak
Marszałek Województwa Wielkopolskiego
al. Niepodległości 18, pokój 142, budynek C
61-713 Poznań
POLAND

tel. 61 626 66 00
fax. 61 626 66 01
e-mail. marszalek@umww.pl

The Chief Executive of Koleje Wielkopolskie

Włodzimierz Wilkanowicz
Prezes Zarządu
Koleje Wielkopolskie Sp. z o.o.
ul. Składowa 5
61-897 Poznań
POLAND

tel. 61- 27-92-700
fax. 61-27-92-709
e-mail. wlodzimierz.wilkanowicz@koleje-wielkopolskie.com.pl

Previous articles about Wolsztyn:

OUT with the old rail transport department – IN with a new railway department… oops Centre

Monday, 28 July 2014 by

Updated

The new location is unlikely to be popular with students. Map Google Maps.

In a breath-taking move that has left defenders of the Silesian University of Technology’s existing Department of Rail Transport wrong-footed, the University’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Andrzej Karbownik, has announced that the University and PKP SA will be setting up a new Centre for Railway Research and Teaching. The Centre will have the status of a department of the University. According to PKP SA Chairman, Jakub Karnowski, the Centre will become a ‘strategic partner’ of PKP SA.

The Centre will be located in a new off-campus location in the disused buildings of the currently unused historic railway station at Sosnowiec Maczki. The extensive station buildings were constructed in 1848, when the station lay on the border of The Russian and Austro-Hungarian empires. The buildings will be restored and adapted to serve the needs of the new Centre which is intended to have a research and a teaching role.

Just over a fortnight ago, the University authorities announced that the existing Department of Rail Transport was to be closed with students and staff being moved into a new Department of Road and Air Transport. A shortage of suitably qualified staff and poor financial results were given as the reasons for the changeover. Yet, the under its Head, Professor Marek Sitarz, the Department generated a substantial extra income from external outside contracts, such as running courses on rail safety for UTK, the Polish rail regulator. Professor Sitarz himself is a internationally respected authority on rail transport and popular with his staff and students.

The new Research and Teaching ‘Centre’ is due to start teaching 1st year students in October 2016. Meanwhile, current rail transport students already at the University will be expected to finish their degrees in the ‘Road and Air Transport’ department. Why the two-year hiatus in rail teaching? Could it be that it is part of a clumsily disguised move to remove Professor Sitarz from his position of head of department?

The professor is well known for being a stalwart champion of rail transport and for his uncompromising stance with respect to railway safety – a dangerous position to be in given the low priority given by the government to its railways.

sosnowiec

The 1848 building of Sosnowiec Maczki station formerly on the border of the Russian and Austro-Hungarian empires. Photo (CC BY-SA 3.0) W. Grabowski.

More:

Some photos:

Last surviving Polish university department of rail transport liquidated

Friday, 11 July 2014 by

Politechnika Slaska

The Silesian University of Technology in Katowice. Photo Google Maps.

On July 10, the Dean and Council of the Faculty of Transport of the Silesian University of Technology in Katowice voted to close down the University’s Department of Rail Transport – the last such such department in Poland.

Under its head, Professor Marek Sitarz, the Department has become a world-class facility with its teaching skills much in demand.  In order to ensure the highest standards, entry to the Department is by means of a competition with an 80% grade being compulsory for entry.

The Department is closely involved in monitoring and promoting rail safety in Poland. Its post graduate courses have been attended by employees of the Urząd Transportu Kolejowego (Polish equivalent to ORR in the UK) as well as managers from many private railway companies.

The Department conducts world-class research in the field of the rail/wheel interface. Recent research papers describe work in the field of tribology and the plastic distortion of wheelsets under thermal stress. Professor Sitarz himself has been a leading member of the team conducting the acceptance test of the Pendolino trainsets being delivered by Alstom.

Profesor Sitarz

Professor Marek Sitarz. Frame capture by BTWT.

The resolution to close the Department alleges a lack of competent teaching staff and that the Department operates at a loss – which happen to be the few particular conditions under which a university may close down a whole department.

Professor Sitarz strongly disputes these claims, pointing to the fact that some 30 students graduate with an M.Sc. in rail transport each year and – in what must surely be a record for any Polish university department – 100% of them walk straight into employment, over 90% in the rail industry. He also explains that due to its external contracts the Department brings the University a substantial revenue stream. In spite of the decision being announced in the middle of the summer holidays his students have organised a petition and are planning other moves in a bid to encourage the University authorities to reconsider their decision.

So why is the University closing down Professor Sitarz’s Department? The Professor is remaining tight-lipped, hinting at personal differences with the Dean of the Transport Faculty, Professor Boguslaw Larzaz. However, our own sources in the Polish academic world have told us that such a serious decision could not just be the result of a personality clash of two academics.

Professor Sitarz is known to be an enthusiastic proponent of rail transport. The government is known for its lack of interest in developing Poland’s railways and is channelling nearly all its transport infrastructure funds into road-building. Is the opportunity being taken to silence a dissenting voice – and fire a warning shot across the bows of other would-be critics – as Poland nudges forward to its next general election?

Sources:

 

Tram skateboard

Tuesday, 8 July 2014 by

Sustainable transport in Bratislava. Video © Tomáš Moravec

With tram frequency only a fraction of what it was 10 years ago, is this DIY approach the solution to the problem of providing a decent public transport service in Lodz?

A hat tip to Tomasz Adamkiewicz for the link.

Poland’s brand new narrow gauge line

Sunday, 6 July 2014 by

First day of public operation as a 785mm gauge line, 19 June 2014. Video courtesy Sarmacja Film.

BTWT has had a longer than usual hiatus. I have had many things on my mind over the last twelve months and at some point all the creative energy drained away. The fact that this Polish railway blog is running at all owes a great deal to our deputy editors, John Savery and Ed Beale.

I would also like to thank all those who have provided articles and stories, especially ‘Inzynier’. My thanks to all BTWT readers and contributors. Please do continue sending us your stories and pictures. Our e-mail address is: railfan[at]go2[dot]pl.

What better to celebrate the return of BTWT than this story about the rebirth of the Park Slaski Railway, a line that many had given up for dead? Our thanks to Andrew Goltz for sending us his photographs.

Dyspozytor 1

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Industrial narrow gauge in the park. Las49-3343 being serviced. Photo Andrew Goltz.

(All photos can be expanded by clicking the image.)

The Park Slaski line has had three gauges! It opened in 1957 as a 1,000mm line. Trains were operated by 3 sets of single-directional railcars and trailers. The railcars had to be turned on special turntables located at each end of the line.

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First the tanks are topped up with water. Photo Andrew Goltz.

By 1966 the railcars and trailers were life expired. The line was re-gauged to 900mm – a gauge for which wheelsets and locomotives were readily available from nearby coalmines. Three 2WLs50 diesel locos were acquired and ten light coaches were specially constructed. The 2WLs50 locos struggled with the steep gradients between Zoo and Wesole Miasteczko stations and were replaced in 1973 by two more powerful WLs75 locos.

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Then the locomotive is coaled. Photo Andrew Goltz.

In 1988, the WLs75 locos were themselves replaced by two WLs150 locos that had been obtained from the KWK Katowice mine. When they became worn out they were replaced in 1994 by a single WLP50 loco which was painted in garish colours in the style of a steam loco as imagined by a drug user during a psychedelic delirium.

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Details for model makers. Photo Andrew Goltz.

In 2003, the operator of the Bytom Narrow Gauge Railway – the Stowarzyszenie Górnośląskich Kolei Wąskotorowych – took over responsibility for running the Park Slaski Railway.The Society ran the railway until the end of the 2011 running season. By this time services the single WLp50 was breaking down at frequent intervals and services suspended. The track was also in a very bad state.

In May 2012 the operating agreement with the SGKW was terminated and in October that same year the track was lifted and the track bed was bulldozed away. In spite of assurances to the contrary by the Park authorities, many people thought that the track-lifting heralded the end of the Park Slaski Railway. However, in 2013, a new bed of ballast was laid down. On this the company that had built the 750mm gauge park railway at Krosnice started constructing a brand new 785 gauge railway.

Initially the track has been laid between Wesole Miasteczko and Zoo stations (about 1 km) with a spur to the engine shed beyond. Eventually the Park authorities intend that the line should rebuilt for the full length of its former route – just over 4 km.

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Builders Plate. Photo Andrew Goltz.

On the 19 June 2014, operations commenced on the new line utilising rolling stock, staff and volunteers from the 785mm gauge railway at Rudy. Motive power was in the form of a Las49 0-6-0WT and a Romanian Lxd2 diesel. The Las 49 was only supposed to work the first three weekends, but has proved so popular (the police had to be called in to control the crowds of would-be passengers on the first day) that its guest appearance in the park was extended.

More:

Wolsztyn – The Final Parade?

Wednesday, 14 May 2014 by

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Ty42-24 passing through the signals on the erstwhile line to Konotop. Photo Marek Ciesielski.

(Click images to expand.)

Wolsztyn’s annual May parade took place on 3 May.  A much smaller event than usual, which has cast doubts on whether or not the event will continue.

No German based locomotives were present. Poland’s fractured rail industry appears to have put paid to that. From what we understand, faced with swingeing track access charges and other fees, the German railtours could not break even for a sensible fare. Given that the fees levied on last year’s trains led to them making a loss, a decision was made by German railtour organisers not to risk making further losses this year.

Chabowka based Ty42-107 and TKt48-191 during the Parade, 3 May 2014..

Chabowka based Ty42-107 and TKt48-191 during the Parade. Photo John Savery.

Chabowka supplied 3 in ticket locos: Ty42-107, Ol12-7 and TKt48-191, all being moved from their southern Polish base. Wolsztyn could only muster 2 in ticket locos, Ol49-59 (making it’s last appearance before overhaul at Leszno), and Ol49-69. Quite why PKP allows Chabowka to keep 3 locos in working order (with the boiler for the OKz32 also standing by ready to fit) compared with Wolsztyn’s single remaining loco is beyond reason, given that the number of steamings and charters done by Chabowka is minimal, and is probably worth an article on its own.

 

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Chabowka’s Ty42-107 and Pyskowice’s Ty42-24 in the shed at Wolsztyn. The devil is in the detail! Photo Marek Ciesielski.

Pride of the show was Ty42-24, restored in Pyskowice by Zbyszek and Krzysiek Jakubina.  Making its debut at the Chabowka gala last year, the standard of restoration is exemplary, and the quality of the finish is far superior to that on Ty42-107, overhauled by full-time staff at Chabowka.

Also present were a Czech loco (2-8-2 Mikado 475- 179) and Club Albatross’ Slovakian 4-8-2 498-104.

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Slovakian 498-104 during the Parade, 3 May 2014. Photo John Savery.

So what does the future hold?

Despite optimistic reports in this month’s Railway Magazine, there are no firm guarantees that steam will actually return to the daily services.  As yet no deal has been reached, however it is clear that the lobbying by concerned supporters is hitting the mark. From what we have heard, at least one letter prompted by the appeal in BTWT has actually reached Jakub Karnowski, the boss of PKP, and he has charged the team looking at the Warsaw Railway Museum project to also look closely at the situation in Wolsztyn.

IMG_6990 - Ty42-24 at Wolsztyn, 05-05-14

With the sun glinting off the gleaming paintwork, Ty42-24 prepares to return south to Wroclaw. Photo John Savery.

A team in PKP Cargo’s strategy unit is now working on a business plan to set up a cultural institute to take over long-term responsibility for the shed and its locos. In the meantime, it is probably not a bad idea to keep up the pressure! If you were thinking of writing a letter, but have not already done so why not drop a line to one or both of the people below. Physical letters are best, but you could also send a pdf file version of a properly formatted letter as an e-mail enclosure.

We believe that the cultural institute idea deserves support, however it is important to point out that what made Wolsztyn absolutely unique was the daily timetabled regular passenger service, hauled by the steam engines stabled there, and that it was this that attracted visitors to Wolsztyn from all around the world.

1. Chief Executive of Wielkopolska Provincial Government

Pan Wojciech Jankowiak
Marszałek Województwa Wielkopolskiego
al. Niepodległości 18
61-713 Poznań
Poland

wojciech.jankowiak@umww.pl

2. PKP Cargo Chairman

Pan Adam Purwin
Prezes Zarządu
PKP CARGO S.A.
ul. Grójecka 17
02-021 Warszawa
Poland

a.purwin@pkp-cargo.eu

 

Wolsztyn plan gets EU chair support!

Thursday, 8 May 2014 by

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

PT47-112 at Wolsztyn. Photo Hubert Smietanka. CC2.5 licence.

Brian Simpson, the chair of the European Parliament’s Transport and Tourism Committee, has entered the battle to save the Wolsztyn engine shed, and its daily timetabled steam workings. Mr Simpson has sent a detailed letter to Adam Purwin, the new boss of PKP Cargo, strongly supporting the idea that a new entity be created to be the long-term custodian of Wolsztyn and that the new entity take the form of a cultural institute.

The idea of a cultural institute is the third iteration in the development of ideas for the long-term future of Wolsztyn in over three years. BTWT has had an opportunity to talk to the people who are working on the plan at PKP HQ in Warsaw, and the plan seems the best solution yet.

Previous plans for the long-term future of Wolsztyn envisaged setting up a company for the specific purpose of operating the shed and maintaining the locomotives used for the daily steam trains. The main drawback of the plan was that the company would have operated with the legal status of a commercial entity – precluding certain kinds of donations and financial support.

A cultural institute, could be the beneficiary of all sorts of grants and donations – including EU support – that would be not be available to a commercial entity.

Flirting in Lodz

Thursday, 1 May 2014 by

The first Stadler FLIRT EMUs have arrived in Lodz. They are part of an 110 million euro project grandly called “The Building of the Lodz Urban Area Railway system” (Budowa  systemu Lodzkiej Kolei Aglomeracyjnej). The project is actually nothing of the sort – no new railway lines, urban or otherwise, are being built – but does include the purchase of 20 two-car FLIRT EMUs, the construction of a maintenance depot on the site of the erstwhile Lodz Widzew marshalling yard and a 15 year maintenance contract for the EMUs.

The EMUs will operate services from Lodz to Sieradz, Kutno, Lowicz and Koluszki. The first of these, Lodz-Sieradz is due to start on June 15.

A number of old stations have been refurbished and a a few entirely new stations have been built. On 30 April, 6 units were displayed to the inspection of the public and press at Lodz Kaliska Station.

Inspired by the name FLIRT (Fast Light Innovative Regional Train) Questia, the PR company which managed the event, decided to give the ceremony a wedding theme. And so, in keeping with the spirit of the occasion, here is our slightly tongue-in-cheek report of the proceedings.

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The celebrant anxiously awaits the arrival of the bride and groom – Witold Stepien, the Chief Executive of Lodz Province gets ready for his speech. Photo BTWT.

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The best man frets – Andrzej Wasilewski, Chairman of the Lodzka Kolej Aglomeracyjna, delivered the second speech. Photo BTWT.

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Here comes the bride! Security guards and a railway man spoil the view as the first train consisting of 3 two-car EMUs arrives at platform 2 of Lodz Kaliska station. Photo BTWT.

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Followed by the groom! The second train arrives on the other track. Photo BTWT.

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The groom is relaxed – Christian Spichiger, Chairman of Stadler Polska and Vice Chairman Stadler Central Europe, talks to the media. Photo BTWT.

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The happy couple – Christian Spichiger and an unknown admirer. Photo BTWT.

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Everybody wishes the couple a long and happy future – another bright idea from the PR company. Photo BTWT.

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The 1970 – 90s re-building of Lodz Kaliska left the station with low platforms. Photo BTWT.

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Getting on board is much easier when the step is extended. Photo BTWT.

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Stadler are to be congratulated in meeting the provincial government’s requirement of squeezing in the maximum number of seats and, at the same time making them very comfortable. Photo BTWT.

Gniezno District Railway, 1939 (Part 3)

Sunday, 20 April 2014 by

by ‘Inzynier’

(continued from: Gniezno District Railway, 1939 – Part 2)

After two days travel, we have reached Gniezno, operating base for the western part of the Kujawy narrow gauge railway network…

gniezno

Gniezno. The narrow gauge line runs south east. Extract from the WIG map of 1935.

(Click to download the full size map. Warning: Very large file)

The third day of our tour presents us with two problems. Firstly, we need to continue our journey across the network via Anastazewo, but that end of the Gniezno system has a rather sparse service. On Tuesdays and Fridays there is an afternoon working, while on Mondays and Thursdays there is an evening train to Anastazewo which overnights there and returns early on Tuesdays and Fridays. Today is Wednesday, so we have no way of reaching Anastazewo by train. Secondly, our mission is to cover the whole of the linked Kujawy system and yesterday we missed out the Mierzewo – Arcugowo section of the Gniezno railway, which links that system to the Wrzesnia line. Consequently, we resolve to spend the day covering the missing link on foot.

Fortunately, the Gniezno – Powidz section of line has a daily passenger service, so we will be able to journey to and from Niechanowo by train and, as we will be staying in the same hotel tonight, we can travel rather more lightly for our railway ramble. The first departure of the day from Gniezno is at 09.15 (there was an arrival from Powidz at 07.40 to bring folk into the city), which turns out to be railcar No.1, built in Hannover in 1928(21). Passenger loadings are relatively light and the car’s 30 seats are more than sufficient as we re-trace yesterday’s route to Niechanowo. The advantages of the railcar are clear in terms of journey time, as we cover the 10km in just 22 minutes at an average speed of 27 km/h (17 mph).

And so we start walking. From Niechanowo station we cross the Witkowo road and pass through the village, turning left (and crossing the field railway we saw yesterday) to eventually reach the crossroads by Arcugowo halt. Here we turn right, for the branch to Mierzewo runs along the right hand side of the road(22). Shortly before Mikolajewice the railway crosses the road and we follow it, skirting round the village, to the unused halt with a loop which clearly is used, as there are two wagons in it, one of them partly loaded with hay. The railway then heads south alongside a road, crossing a couple of streams and then crossing to the other side of the road and throwing off a short siding to the left that crosses back over the road.

At Malczewo comes an oddity, for the railway passes under a road bridge. Why a bridge? From the topography it would seem that the railway could have crossed on the level, while the road is by no means a busy highway; indeed, a few kilometres to the east, the Mielzyn branch crosses the same road on the level. Continuing south of the bridge, the railway runs on the left hand side of another road and shortly a field railway branches back to the left; this splits into three branches, each perhaps a kilometre long. There is also a halt. The main line continues to Czechowo-Grotkowo (various names seem to have been used for this halt) which is a three-way junction beside a crossroads. To the right a field railway runs beside a cart track to the village and farm at Grotkowo, straight ahead runs the district railway’s branch to Czeluscin, with a loading loop alongside the road, while to the left is the main branch to Mierzewo, also alongside a road.

We turn left and follow the road and railway for a couple of kilometres until the railway swings right, away from the road, to run behind the cottages of Mierzewo and then we come to the station at which we witnessed some shunting yesterday; today all is quiet here. It has taken us well over two hours at a stroll (anything more would be uncomfortable in the heat) to get here from Niechanowo, which is 9.6km by rail, and it is clear that although the narrow gauge trains may seem slow, they are an essential means of transport for the local population, for most of whom walking is the only alternative.

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Czechowo-Grotkowo and the Czeluscin branch. Extract from the WIG map of 1935.

(Click to download the full size map. Warning: Very large file)

After a pause to rest our legs, we walk back to Czechowo-Grotkowo and, as we have plenty of time before the last train leaves Niechanowo, we decide to explore some of the Czeluscin branch. As previously indicated, the line runs along the left hand side of a road for almost two kilometres to Czechowo, where it crosses the road and a siding branches off right to the farm(23). The main branch continues alongside the road for a short distance, past a couple of ponds, and then turns right across fields. We pass what looks like a sand pit and then come alongside another road on our left.

The railway crosses the road and heads across fields again to Zolcz, with a long siding branching off to the left for a few hundred metres. Crossing a couple of lanes in Zolcz the line continues west with a roadway on the right to a T junction, where the railway turns sharply south with another road still on the right. Somewhere along here another line branched off for a few years to a standard gauge interchange at Czerniejewo station, but the route has disappeared under the plough.

Following the road and railway south from the junction we are amazed to see, as we approach Czeluscin, the smoke from a locomotive. As we get nearer we can see that it is Krauss 0-6-0T+T No. 4, one of about eight such locomotives built for this line and the Znin system between 1894 and 1913(24). What seems bizarre is that we can hear standard gauge trains on the Gniezno – Wrzesnia line and Czerniejewo station is less than 2km from Czeluscin, yet this locomotive has travelled about 24km from Gniezno to reach here; presumably it passed Czechowo-Grotkowo while we took our diversion to Mierzewo.

As on the Wrzesnia line, when the crew see our interest in their locomotive we are invited to take a closer look and, when they finish their shunting and are ready to set off back towards Gniezno, we are invited to join the guard in his van, an offer we gratefully accept. The train by now consists of just the loco and van, but at Zolcz we stop to pick up a couple of empty wagons, and at Czechowo a wagon load of manure is added. At Czechowo-Grotkowo the loco uncouples from the train and runs up the siding to Grotkowo, reappearing with a couple of vans, while at Mikolajewice one of the wagons we saw earlier is now completely loaded with hay and is added to the train; at each stop there is a long break in the journey as, not only do the wagons have to be added to the train, but the guard has to do the necessary paperwork.

On arrival at Arcugowo the loco again uncouples, as there are apparently some wagons to collect at Mielzyn. Not knowing how long the business at Mielzyn might take, we bid farewell to the crew and set off on foot again to Niechanowo. We arrive there in plenty of time to rest our feet before railcar 1 arrives from Powidz. After our day’s walking through the countryside it is a relief to know that we only now have the walk from the station to our hotel. There are only two other passengers by this time of day and all the halts are passed without stopping. As we near Gniezno the speed noticeably reduces, to avoid getting too far ahead of schedule, and soon we pull into the platform as a nearby church clock strikes 19.00. Tonight will be early to bed, for not only has our walk and fresh air taken its toll, but tomorrow we travel east towards the main Kujawy network and it will be a few days before we get another night in bed.

to be continued…

NOTES

21) Gniezno’s railcar 1 was tested on the Mecklenburg-Pommersche Schmalspurbahn and possibly on the Bydgoszcz district railway before arriving at Gniezno in 1929. It was taken into PKP stock in 1949 and designated Mzx-044 but is believed to have been scrapped in 1950.

22) The Arcugowo – Mierzewo line opened in 1896 and was converted to 750mm gauge in 1957. Grotkowo – Mierzewo closed in 1979 and Arcugowo – Grotkowo in 1986.

23) Grotkowo – Czeluscin opened in 1916, as did Zolcz – Czerniejewo, but the latter closed in 1923. The Grotkowo to Czechowo section was converted to 750mm gauge in 1957, but Czechowo – Czeluscin was closed rather than regauged. Grotkowo to Czechowo closed in 1973.

24) Gniezno 4 was Krauss works no. 3179 of 1895. It was renumbered 8 in 1939 (I have assumed after the German occupation), and taken into PKP stock in 1949, becoming Py1-723. It was sold to industry in 1954 and its fate thereafter is unknown.

Polish railways are dying and dangerous

Thursday, 10 April 2014 by

public funds rail%road

Public funds invested in railway infrastructure as a proportion of public funds invested in road infrastructure

TOTAL rail%road

All funds invested in railway infrastructure as a proportion of funds invested in road infrastructure (2007-2011)

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Fatalities on EU railways per million train-km

 

No deal. No steam.

Sunday, 30 March 2014 by

Friday’s meeting between representatives of PKP Cargo and the Wielkopolska provincial government ended without agreement.

No further talks are scheduled until 18 April, and with no agreement, steam services will cease on 31 March.

Ol49-59 has the dubious honour of hauling the last service, the afternoon Wolsztyn to Leszno turn. After that the loco will return light engine to Wolsztyn with the return passenger working being completed by a diesel railcar.

Behind the Water Tower does not intend to sit idly by until 18 April. We encourage people to write to the main parties concerned and encourage them to work out a deal.  There is time for written representations to be delivered before 18 April.  A well written posted letter may carry more clout than an email and we would urge people to put pen to paper in the next few days so that it reaches the relevant parties before the meeting.

The main protagonists and stakeholders are:

Mr Jakub Karnowski
Prezes
Prezes Zarządu
Polskie Koleje Państwowe S.A.
ul. Szczęśliwicka 62
00-973 Warszawa
POLAND

e-mail: Jakub.Karnowski@pkp.pl

Marek Woźniak
Marszałek Województwa Wielkopolskiego
al. Niepodległości 18
61-713 Poznań
POLAND

e-mail: marszalek@umww.pl

With elections looming our editorial team have already heard from people who have openly said that  the current incumbents will not be receiving their vote given the current standoff. There may be an element of politics at play in all this. Who knows? The Wielkopolski Marszalek may be planning to pull a rabbit out of the hat and save the steam services as part of his election campaign. We hasten to add, that is pure speculation, however, if that is part of the strategy, it is a dangerous game to play.

If no agreement is reached on 18 April matters are likely to escalate up to Ministerial level. We would therefore encourage people to also write to:

Mrs. Elżbieta Bieńkowska
Ministerstwa Infrastruktury i Rozwoju
ul. Wspólna 2/4
00-926 Warszawa

e-mail: kancelaria@mir.gov.pl

A Mexican Standoff

Wednesday, 26 March 2014 by

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Ol49-69 heads towards Poznan at Steszew on 3 May 2012. Photo John Savery

The daily scheduled steam operation at Wolsztyn looks as though it will end next week. The Wielkopolska provincial government and PKP Cargo have failed to reach agreement on the cost of the service, and with no funding agreed from 31 March, the daily steam service to Leszno will not operate unless a compromise is agreed.

Sources indicate that the cost per kilometre that PKP Cargo wish to charge have increased dramatically since the service was moved over to the Leszno line. In itself, this is hardly surprising. There are the fixed costs of operating the shed at Wolsztyn, and the overhaul of the locomotives, which are done on a time based system, not a miles operated, or days in steam system. Nevertheless, it is believed that the charges have increased disproportionately.

TurKol’s charter traffic is covered by a separate contract and would remain unaffected, nevertheless, the viability of the depot must be questionable with the reduced mileage and income.

Wolsztyn is unique in being the last place in Europe (if not the world) where standard gauge steam still hauls daily scheduled services. It entices tourists from around the world, all of whom come because it is unique. All spend money whilst visiting, and this is estimated to be in excess of one million zloty annually.

If the services ends, scheduled standard gauge steam will have had its last stand in Europe.

For those wishing to put pen to paper, and explaining why the service should be retained, the following addresses may be useful.  We understand that a ‘last chance’ meeting between the parties is scheduled for Friday this week, so this could be the final chance to influence the outcome.

1. Minister of Culture
Mr. Bogdan Zdrojewski
minister@mkidn.gov.pl

2. Minister of Infrastructure and Development (Transport)
Mrs. Elżbieta Bieńkowska
kancelaria@mir.gov.pl

3. Chief Executive of Wielkopolska Provincial Government
Mr. Wojciech Jankowiak
wojciech.jankowiak@umww.pl

4. PKP Cargo Wielkopolska Division Manager
Mr. Andrzej Jabłoński
a.jablonski@pkp-cargo.eu

PKP plans York-style museum

Friday, 14 February 2014 by

A4s York-1608

Spotted at York, September 2013: 3717 City of Truro (the first steam engine to reach 100 mph) and A4 pacifics, 60008 Dwight D. Eisenhower, and 60010 Dominion of Canada (in LNER blue livery). A4 Mallard holds the world record for steam, 125.88 mph (202.58 km/h). Photo BTWT.

PKP S.A. is planning to build a York style museum at Szczesliwice to the west of the Odolany carriage sidings in order to provide a new home for the Warsaw Railway Museum. The plans received a recent boost when agreement was reached in principle at a meeting attended earlier this week by Elzbieta Bienkowska the Minister of Infrastructure and Development, Adam Struzik the Chief Executive of Mazowsze Province and PKP bosses.

It is hoped that the museum project will benefit from EU funds. The fact that Mrs Bienkowska is in charge of inter alia the allocation and disbursement of EU funds should greatly assist the project. The plans envisage creating a modern family-oriented facility with a focus of rail transport including trams. The museum is to be dubbed a ‘Centre of Communication and Technology’ which would allow it to provide a home for the historical relics currently in the care of the Museum of Technology inside Warsaw’s Palace of Culture.

The future of the Warsaw Railway Museum collection had been uncertain for over 10 years. For more than 10 years, PKP has wanted to redevelop the Warszawa Glowna station site, but the museum authorities had dug in their heels and refused to consider moving to any other location.

One of our editorial staff has been busy for the last four years campaigning behind the scenes that Poland deserves a world-class national railway museum constructed with the help of EU funds. The campaign attracted the support of senior figures in the European railway heritage movement, business leaders in Poland and at least one Polish government minister. For a time, he worked hand-in-glove with the museum authorities, but when they discovered that his objective was a proper national museum – but not necessarily on the current Glowna site – cooperation ceased overnight!

Some diehard preservationists are already campaigning against the move of the museum fearing that it will lead to the demolition of the Glowna station building. Unfortunately, PKP has no choice but to redevelop the Glowna site – under strict conditions set last year by Poland’s Ministry of Finance if PKP wants to benefit from EU cash during the new funding period, it has to generate its ‘own funds’ contribution itself from the sale of surplus assets. The Glowna site is the most valuable plum in the whole PKP property portfolio.

More:

Gniezno District Railway, 1939 (Part 2)

Saturday, 25 January 2014 by

by ‘Inzynier’

(continued from: Kujawy 1939 – The journey so far)

On the second day of our imaginary journey over the Kujawy network in 1939, we have just walked between two branch termini to continue our journey to Gniezno from Mielzyn…

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The Mielzyn branch. Extract from the WIG map of 1935.

(Click to download the full size map. Warning: Very large file)

The Jaworowo – Mielzyn section of the railway runs largely along the side of the road and Mielzyn station is the basic rural terminus consisting only of a run-round loop and a short siding to a turntable, the latter a relatively recent addition and only a lightweight affair suitable for turning railcars.

We wander further into the village square, find a shop to buy some beer and head back to the station in time to see the afternoon train arrive at 15.01. Quite a number of passengers leave the train, presumably having returned from market in town. We are fortunate it is a Tuesday, as trains only serve Mielzyn on Tuesdays and Fridays, with a morning train which arrives at 06.35 and departs at 06.45, and this afternoon service which lingers at the station until 16.18.

The locomotive is No. 12, a 0-8-0 tender locomotive built by the Warszawa factory in 1927(18). The train is the usual two coaches and a van, plus a few wagons which have been brought in; fortunately there are none waiting to leave, as this would make shunting rather complex. The coaching stock all dates from the early days of the district railway, with plates showing manufacturers to have been Weyer and Hofmann. The locomotive runs round the train, shunts the wagons into the loop and takes water, during which time the fireman also cleans the fire and moves coal forward in the tender; it will be tender-first back to Gniezno.

As departure time nears, the fireman livens up the fire and a handful of passengers arrive. Then we are on our way again, initially running westward alongside the road we earlier walked and then turning north at Jaworowo, passing the halt without stopping(19). We soon join another road, which we follow through a couple of slight left hand curves to Odrowaz, a halt with a loading loop at which one passenger alights and a couple board the train.

We cross a road and shortly curve left, at which point a branch comes in from the right; this runs a few hundred metres to a large farm. After a couple of kilometres through fields we cross a road and pass another halt with loop at Gorzykowo, following which we run roadside again to Karsewo, again a halt with loading loop(20). Crossing over a road junction in the centre of the village, we set out across fields, bridging over the occasional stream, then a road comes alongside again on our left for the run into Arcugowo. The ‘station’ itself has the usual loading loop and at the northern end a field railway branches off right to serve the estate farm.

arcugowo-niechanowo

Arcugowo and Niechanowo. Extract from the WIG map of 1935.

(Click to download the full size map. Warning: Very large file)

Leaving Arcugowo we cross the road and the line from Mierzewo comes in on the left, then we run through fields again to pass the village of Niechanowo, where another field railway heads back to the left, serving a distillery as well as the estate farm. We continue north to cross the Gniezno – Witkowo road and curve left across a couple of lanes as the Witkowo line comes in from the right at a triangular junction.

Soon we are entering  Niechanowo, one of the more significant stations on the Gniezno system with a station building and two-road loco shed which is also used as a wagon repair shop; the track layout is quite extensive, with three through lines, a siding and another line looping round the back of the yard. We pause for a minute or so as a few people leave or board the train and then the stationmaster gives a wave, the driver gives an acknowledging toot on the whistle and opens the regulator.

Now that we are on the main line of the system, we seem to gather a little more pace and the halts are less frequent. At first the main road is some way off to our left and we pass through fields, crossing a couple of roads and watercourses, but at Zelazkowo (the usual halt and loop) we join the main road, which we follow to the edge of the city. The fields give way to woodland on both sides and then we pass Jelonek, a popular destination at weekends for excursions from the city. There is a loop from which a short siding leads to a turntable, and trains can be turned round here, but on this weekday afternoon we pass through without stopping.

Soon we are passing sporadic ribbon development and we pause briefly at the simple halt of Ogrod Wiktorji, where one passenger alights. Here we cross the road and soon run through the outskirts of the city – the cemetery on our right, then the barracks off to our left; with a sports ground on our right we cross the Wrzesnia road. A triangle of tracks on the left then marks the junction with the line to the sugar factory, with sidings full of empty wagons at this time of year. Passing the factory buildings we enter the station yard and come to a halt in front of the workshops and station building.

KDR_crop

Some of the principal lines of the western part of the Kujawy Narrow Gauge Railways. Map gkw-gniezno.pl.

(Click map to view a larger version.)

The 23 kilometres from Mielzyn have taken us 1 hour and ten minutes – an average speed of almost 20km/h. Once again, we pick up our bags and walk across the long bridge over the standard gauge lines to find our hotel in the city.

to be continued…

Notes:

18) Gniezno no. 12 was Warszawa works no. 094. It was renumbered 5 in 1939 (I have assumed after the German occupation), and taken into PKP stock in 1949, becoming Px1-771. It later went to Witaszyce and Zwierzyniec, became Px27-771 in 1961 and was withdrawn in 1964.

19) Mielzyn – Odrowaz officially opened in 1896 and was regauged to 750mm in 1957. It was officially closed in 1984, but had not seen any traffic since 1970.

20) Odrowaz – Niechanowo – Gniezno opened in 1883 as a 900mm gauge line to serve Gniezno sugar factory. In 1895 it was regauged to 600mm and became part of the Witkowo district railway, officially opening in 1896. It was regauged to 750mm in 1957. Mielzyn – Arcugowo closed in 1984 (as noted above, it had seen no trains for 14 years) and Arcugowo – Niechanowo officially closed in 1989 but was probably last used in 1986. Niechanowo – Gniezno is still open for tourist trains.


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