Last train to Nowy Sacz?

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IMG_4889 - departing shot

Departing shot Ty42-107, and its train. Photo John Savery.

The line from Chabowka to Nowy Sacz is on the list of lines to be closed that was published earlier this year.  The scenic line, with its twisting curves and steep gradients, is worth travelling.  With that in mind, coupled with the fact that I hadn’t travelled further east than Dobra, forced the decision to go out for the steam hauled special on 26 May, organised by the Nowosądeckie Stowarzyszenie Miłośników Kolei (Nowy Sacz Railway Society).  Tickets for the special sold out weeks before, however there were tickets left for the Chabowka to Nowy Sacz leg of the trip, which had been added as a working train, rather than an empty stock move.

A bright early morning start greeted Ty42-107, and the mixed train of retro and ryflak coaches.

IMG_4760-1 Heading to Mszana Dolna

The 5.30 departure didn’t deter people from turning out for the train.  The line is rarely used, and this showed on the stiff climb from Mszana Dolna to Skrzydlna, with the loco slipping to a stand on several occasions.  A wet railhead, along with a rarely used line proved a tough match for the Kriegslok, despite not having a heavy train.  Pausing at some stations on the way for 5 minute breaks, the train made slow progress to Nowy Sacz, but kept time.  Despite the weather, there were several groups of photographers out in force at the lineside.

A large crowd greeted the train at Limanowa, many of whom boarded.

At Nowy Sacz, the train was greeted by brass bands, singers, and a display of period soldiers.

I was fortunate enough to be with a friend who has a wide network in the Polish gricing community, which rallies together to help each other out.  Seeing a contact on the side of the line, a quick handwave, a few gestures, and a follow up text message secured 2 spaces in a car for the return trip.

IMG_4910-1 near Skrydlna

Special near Skrydlna. Photo John Savery.

Under worsening weather, the train returned to Chabowka, full, and stopping for approximately half an hour at intermediate stations, where there were festivities laid on.  With decreasing adhesion, the train stalled several times, making for a spectacular display.  At one stage the crew were forced to walk ahead of the loco in pouring rain, placing ballast on the railhead so that the engine could crush it and get a grip.

IMG_4944-1 Mszana to Rabka

Special on the section Mszana to Rabka. Photo John Savery.

Arriving in Chabowka, the passengers boarded waiting coaches to take them back to Nowy Sacz and the intermediate towns.

As we close for press we have heard that the line has been saved from closure as it is of national strategic importance.  There are no further planned workings over the line – the trains scheduled for Parowozjazda are only planned to go as far as Mszana Dolna, missing the steepest sections, and in some cases the most deteriorated parts of the line.  This could well be the last train to Nowy Sacz (via the Transwersalna).  Only time will tell.

IMG_4958 empty tracks, near Rabka Zaryte

Empty tracks near Rabka Zaryte. Photo John Savery.

(All photographs Ⓒ John Savery. Click on the image to view a larger picture.)

More photos of the trip can be seen on Flickr, and video on YouTube.

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5 Responses to “Last train to Nowy Sacz?”

  1. Robert Hall Says:

    Probably, minutiae which sensible people won’t bother with, but in the “Optimization” report about 2,000-odd km of least-used railways, under threat in a tabular breakdown of the lines concerned, under nazwa linii (name if line) is shown, Chabowka – Nowy Sacz. Under nazwa odcinka (section of line affected) is shown, Rabka Zdroj – Nowy Sacz, giving a distance for the latter, of 74.7 km, and showing this 74.7 km as coded “B”, which if I understand rightly, means “out of use but track still in situ”.

    From what I gather, Rabka Zdroj is the first station on the line east of Chabowka, and a metaphorical “couple” of kilometres out of Chabowka. The above would imply “non-existence” of this short stretch of line; plus, M.G. Ball’s “Railway Atlas” attempting to show current status of Poland’s rail system, would appear (for what this may be worth) to show this short section as “not there”. And yet, the preservation centre is at Chabowka, and “best guesses” seem to suggest further steam specials on this line as most likely being at the Chabowka end, and running from / to Chabowka. Can anyone explain – what’s with all this, concerning this short section?

    • John Savery Says:

      Rabka Zdroj is indeed the first station out of Chabowka. It is in daily use, and will remain so, after the cuts. The line is electrified as far as Rabka Zdroj, and the EMU’s which ply the Krakow – Zakopane route reverse at Rabka Zdroj. The section which is closing is from Rabka Zdroj through to Nowy Sacz.

      Specials are planned over the summer and for Parowozjazda, however these will only go as far as Mszana Dolna.

  2. Robert Hall Says:

    Thanks! On close inspection, Ball’s map shows (faintly) what could be construed as a short electric stretch Chabowka – Rabka Zdroj.

  3. Robert Hall Says:

    This may be a bit cheeky of me, but as the subject has arisen, the “Optimization” report in its list of “targeted” lines, has the “kod odcinka” feature – code letters presumably denoting the status of the lines involved – but the report does not, so far as I can make out, give a key to the code.

    The most frequently occurring code letters in the list are A and B, which, working from available information, I infer to mean respectively “open for freight only”, and “out of use but track still in situ”. The list also includes, though occurring less frequently, the code letters C, D, E, F, G, N and O. I wouldd be very grateful for any information from anyone, about meanings of the “kod odcinka” letters.

  4. Waldemar Says:

    There is a glimmer of hope. Environmental impact assessment for the modernisation of Chabówka – Nowy Sącz line is in progress. This suggests that in nearby future they will start rebuilding the line.

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