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.
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.
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.
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.
Empty tracks near Rabka Zaryte. Photo John Savery.
(All photographs Ⓒ John Savery. Click on the image to view a larger picture.)