Lodz Fabryczna construction site, 22 November 2013. Photo by BTWT.
(Click picture to see full-size.)
Lodz Fabryczna construction site, summer 2013. Photo by Zorro2212.
(Click picture to see original photo on Wikipedia Commons.)
Behind The Water Tower has been ‘down’ for much longer than usual. I have not been well – nothing terribly alarming, rather a combination of ‘wear and tear’ and an old back problem has taken its toll, and much of my ‘get up and go’ seems to have got up and gone. I have decided on a few simple steps which should at least improve the frequency of postings, if not their quality.
BTWT readers may remember my dislike of the new Lodz Fabryczna project. Currently, the centre of Lodz is cut off for visitors by train and there is no firm date in sight for when the rail link will be restored. Lodzians commuting to Warsaw or further afield are better off – they simply park at one of the many stations on Lodz’s periphery: Zabienec, Kaliska, Chojny or Widzew and enjoy reasonably comfortable(1) – if not very fast train journeys.
There is currently no money nor end date for the completion of the 2,000 million PLN project, 1,500 million of which is being put up by PKP and 500 million by the City of Lodz. The project will not add a single new train path between Lodz and Warsaw. Just think what 2,000 million PLN could have done in removing speed restriction and bottlenecks in key places around the Polish railway network.
For those readers admiring the progress on the new station in the photo above, perhaps I should explain that the concrete deck in the picture is not intended to be the track bed level of the new station, merely its ceiling. The actual station level remains to be excavated, under the newly cast concrete deck in the picture.
(1) Apart from certain Lodz-Krakow services worked by the PESA ED74 EMUs with their back-breaking seats.
More: Wikipedia – Łódź Fabryczna railway station
Lodz City Hall wanted land for development. Unfortunately no one thought it necessary to keep the trains running. Photo BTWT.
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Stripped of its external clutter Fabryczna has returned to its original glory. Unfortunately soon memories will be all that will be left. Photo BTWT.
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Across what were once railway tracks Skanska are hard at work converting an old power station into an art gallery. Pity about the railway station! Photo BTWT.
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The beginning of the end… Video by LodzTube.
(Posted on YouTube on 15 March.)
…or a new beginning? Video by LodzTube.
(Posted on YouTube on 20 March.)
The British-Polish Chamber of Commerce and the Lodz City Authority held a joint meeting at Lodz Town Hall on Monday 19 March about the redevelopment of Lodz Fabryczna station. The Mayor of Lodz, pointed out that roads and railways were a critical deciding factor in whether a region attracted external investment. The Chairman of PKP PLK showed plans and artist’s impressions of the new underground Lodz Fabryczna. The BPCC representative showed a PowerPoint presentation about major railway station investments around the world.
As presentation followed presentation our BTWT reporter’s head began to nod. It had been a 05:00 hrs. start in Warsaw to catch the 06:40 TLK to get to Lodz Widzew for 08:20. Then a long walk to the tram stop and another long walk to the Town Hall. (The bus alternative involves three different buses and a 210m walk.) But then what was this? The BPCC speaker was ending his presentation on a high note.
There are several similarities between Lodz and the Thames Valley area – a region with the lowest unemployment in the United Kingdom. Both areas lie to the West of their respective capitals, both are close to major airports, both have well-respected Universities.
But there is one important difference. Yesterday evening I counted how many direct trains there are between Reading and London. It took me 15 minutes. I counted 191 trains. And how many direct trains are there today between the centre of Lodz and Warsaw – exactly zero!*
This was bang on target. It is fast trains and not railway stations that have a powerful effect on regional development.
*There are 22 direct trains on weekdays between Lodz Widzew and Warszawa Centralna. The fastest journey time for the 126km (79 mile) journey is 1hr 29min, an average speed of 87km/h (55 mph). The fastest journey time for the 102 km (64 mile) from Oxford to London is 56 minutes, an average speed of 109 km/h (68 mph).
The final part of Robert Hall’s story of his return to Poland after 16 years
Robert Hall’s route from Radom to Lodz Fabryczna. Map courtesy Railmap.
(Click on the image to enlarge, but click on this link, if you want to follow Robert’s journey station by station on a larger scale Railmap which can be zoomed and scrolled.)
After a night in an agreeable hotel in Radom, only a couple of minutes’ walk from the station, I set off to Lodz the following morning, Monday 26 July. Armed with a packed breakfast provided by the hotel, I caught the 07:27 through local train Radom – Tomaszow Mazowiecki – Lodz. At the time, this was the only through westbound train of the day; it had an eastbound counterpart which ran in the evening. There is a meagre selection of other trains on the line, but no other trains run the full length.
The EMU departed punctually, for a delightful early-morning, all-stations run through pleasant countryside. Whilst passenger workings on this route may be few and far between, in the course of the journey we did pass a number of long-distance freights, and I noticed timber being loaded into PKP Cargo wagons at Wykno. It was cheering to see these all rail freight activities after my experiences on other secondary lines during this visit to Poland.
EMUs at Lodz Fabryczna shortly before closure. Photo Wiktor Baron.
(Click image to enlarge. Click on this link to see original on Wikipedia and for details of licensing.)
I arrived at Lodz Fabryczna station at 10:41, where Dyspozytor and his car were waiting. A fine coup had been achieved: we were off to Zdunska Wola some 40 km to the west, and neighbouring Karsznice, for a visit to the little-known standard-gauge ‘skansen’ (open air museum) at the latter location. The railway museum, formerly under PKP control, has only recently been transferred to the Zdunska Wola municipality.
Our first stop was the Zdunska Wola Museum in the centre of town. The railway museum for administration purposes is now part of the town museum. We were met by the town’s museum director, under whose remit the railway museum now falls.
We were given a tour of this most interesting museum which tell the history of this textile town which is something of a junior partner of Lodz, and then, with Piotr Skorek of the Zdunska Wola museum staff as our guide, we continued to the railway museum at Karsznice, a few kilometres to the South.
The Karsnice ‘skansen’ in 2006. Photo BTWT.
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Until recently the railway museum was an integral part of Karsznice loco depot and railway workshops. Karsznice is a railway town, built for the Magistrala Weglowa (Upper Silesia – Gdynia coal railway) in the 1930s. It was a convenient point for exchanges of locos and crews, on the long run between the coal mines and the seaport.
It was a great privilege to see round Karsznice railway museum, which at the time of my visit was not open to the public at all; its Skierniewice counterpart can at least be visited a few days in the year. The previous workshop manager had set out to collect one example of each of the engines that used to work on the coal line and was one engine short when he received his redundancy notice.
I spotted five out of the seven standard-gauge steam classes which were still active in the 1980s. The exceptions were class TKt48 2-8-2T, and class Ty51 2-10-0, and plentiful examples of both clases are preserved elsewhere. There was also Ty23-237, a Polish ‘home-grown’ 2-10-0 freight hauler. A few specimens of this class were active on PKP till the late 1970s.
Also still in use in the late 1970s, were the massive American-built class Ty246 2-10-0, fitted with a mechanical stoker. These were built to make good World War II losses in the brief time-window before it all went nasty between the West and the Soviet Union. I understand that some features of class Ty246 were used in the design of the later Ty51. Besides the steam locomotives there were also an assortment of diesel locos and railcars, and passenger stock, some of considerable antiquity.
Most unfortunately, there is at present no alternative to all these exhibits being kept permanently out in the open air. In addition, the museum’s future is entirely in the hands of the local council, who are at present supportive but there is no guarantee that this attitude will continue indefinitely, or even for long, given the situations faced by other Polish rail heritage assets in local authority care.
We drove back to Lodz via country roads with a coffee-and-ice-cream stop in a little town en route. You can’t cover everything – it turned out that something had to give, and the victim was Lodz’s wonderful metre-gauge tram system. In the end, time didn’t allow us to do the epic interurban run north to Ozorkow. So I was not able to enjoy as much of the Lodz tram network as planned, but those fragments I did experience were cherished. A great inducement for another visit to Poland.
The start of the interurban line to Konstantynow and Lutomersk at Zdrowie. The Lodz MPK trams turn right here and go round a loop. Note the Tramwaje Podmiejskie logo on the tram. Photo BTWT.
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I did see a fair amount of the interurban tram line to Lutomiersk (featured in ‘A return journey – part 3‘) which is shorter than the Ozorkow line, but no small-time spur. At the time of my visit, the Lutomiersk tram route was temporarily interrupted over the central stretch near Konstantynow while road works were being carried out. Buses were bridging the gap, something of a discouragement to travel.
We travelled alongside the line for some distance by car, on journeys on two different days. On the journey to Zbiersk on July 19th we examined the route’s end, a loop in Lutomiersk town square. During our journey to Zdunska Wola on the 26th we also followed part of the line, and made a call at the interurban route’s depot on the west side of Lodz.
We had a chat and a coffee with the hospitable general manager and had a walk round the depot under the guidance of the chief engineer. At the depot we saw service vehicles of very considerable antiquity, converted from tramcars.
On the way back from Zdunska Wola and Karsznice, we planned our route so as to hit the main road west of Aleksandrow Lodzki, whose municipality a few years ago foolishly voted to abolish their tram route to Lodz, on a separate formation parallel to the main road, and replace it with buses. The result was road traffic chaos, which might hopefully serve as an object lesson to other commuter towns around Lodz about the wisdom of keeping their trams…
And so dawned Tuesday 27th, my last day in Poland. For complicated reasons, I had arrived in Poznan by air, but departed by rail. I had a few hours left for a farewell trip before my train in the evening. Having developed a fondness for leisurely journeys along electric lines by local EMU, I decided on a local-EMU odyssey as a fitting farewell to Poland, so I took a tram to Lodz Kaliszka station, and left Lodz on the 13:33 EMU, arriving in Poznan Glowny at 18:45, in plenty of time for the westbound night express due out of Poznan at 21:33.
The local EMUs seem basically ageless and unchanging, the same now as they were in 1980, and give a fairly comfortable ride. Who cares if it takes many hours of watching the beguiling Polish rural scene out of the window to arrive at one’s destination? Lines important enough to have been electrified also seem to have more action happening on them, including freight, than the depressing and seemingly dying non-electrified lines.
I enjoyed the long-distance EMU run. The train reversed in a leisurely fashion with a long lay-over at Ostrow Wielkopolski. A tank engine, 2-6-0T TKi3-120, was plinthed on the platform there. Pleszew was next. SKPL’s passenger service on this line was suspended for the summer, but I looked out eagerly for the 750mm gauge track, having a vague memory of seeing it in passing twenty years previously, but saw none this time.
Some way further north, Ol49-1 was plinthed at Jarocin, appropriately as Jarocin was the last place in Poland (with the exception of Wolsztyn) with completely genuine steam workings, until early 1992, mostly with class Ol49. At Sroda I was dozing, so missed a potential glimpse of the still-active 750mm gauge line.
And so I arrived in Poznan with time to get things straight, have a bite to eat, and prepare to board the Jan Kiepura express to the west, the first leg of my homeward journey. I was to leave the Jan Kiepura at Köln, and the journey until the far west of Germany was in darkness. I confess to being someone who lives firmly in the past, taking not much pleasure or interest in the ultra-modern railway scene. For me, even the Channel Tunnel, through which I have travelled several times, is a convenience rather than a thing of joy.
The Kiepura arrived at Poznan punctually, having started its run in Warsaw. It is designated, impressively, a ‘Hotel’ train, and its spacious accommodation, even in second class, certainly felt hotel-like after a long diet of Polish local trains with their comfortable enough but not overly expansive seating (and, as for the narrow gauge, comfort is not the object of that exercise). The reservation, obtained when booking the ticket in Britain a month previously, worked like a charm, and departure was punctual at 21:33.
With a long and quite intensive grice having taken its toll, I slept most of the night, completely unaware of the Polish-German border, and woke up briefly only at the key points of Berlin, Hannover, Hamm, and Essen. I had something over an hour in Köln, awaiting my train on to Brussels – an opportunity for some breakfast.
My Brussels train, coming in from further afield, was formed of highly modern and thoroughly comfortable stock. As at Poznan, the seat-reservation had worked smoothly, but my heart sank when an announcement was made that departure would be delayed because of a coupling-related fault on the train. My connection with Eurostar at Brussels was a little tight, and being given to travel-related panic, my imagination went into overdrive regarding what is done with passengers who miss their booked Eurostar because of the late running of their preceding train. The coupling fault was quite promptly remedied, and we set off about a quarter of an hour late. All being well, the Brussels connection would still be okay.
Shortly after Aachen, a change in the style of station-signage revealed that we had crossed into Belgium. I had hoped for some nice hill scenery in this far-eastern part of Belgium, but nowadays a great deal of the run between Aachen and Liege is in tunnel. Interchange to Eurostar at Brussels Midi was accompanied with check-in procedures identical to an airport, and after boarding the Eurostar, departure for London St. Pancras via Lille was punctual.
After a journey through unexciting scenery then through the ‘big rat-hole’, arrival was at about half past noon, my first time arriving by Eurostar into St Pancras, as the last time I had travelled by Eurostar the terminus had still been at Waterloo. With a short walk to Euston, the next train to Birmingham New Street, and a suburban train to my local station, I reached home. It had taken six trains and 24-plus-a-few hours, to get from Lodz Kaliska to Chester Road on the Birmingham – Lichfield line, with electric traction all the way.
My very great thanks to Dyspozytor for everything he had done to welcome me and to open doors to places which on my own I would have had no chance of accessing. I had a wonderful fortnight-and-a-bit. I had feared that the Poland of 2010 would be a miserable come-down, compared to the Poland that I had last experienced 16 years ago. I need not have worried, though my reservations were proved true in a couple of respects, in the main I am pleased to report that I found the country as much a delight as ever before. I want to go back – all that’s needed is a lottery win…
Rail route diagram of the Lodz area.
(Click to enlarge.)
Following the closure of Lodz Fabryczna station, some rail services in the Lodz area have been re-routed.
Trains from Warsaw to Ostrow Wielkopolski and Wroclaw run via Lowicz Przedmiescie, Zgierz and Lodz Zabieniec to Lodz Kaliska.
Trains from Czestochowa and Tomaszow Mazowiecki run from Lodz Widzew to Zgierz on the freight avoiding line (avoiding Lodz Kaliska).
Trains will from Lodz Kaliska to Warsaw run via Lodz Chojny and Lodz Widzew on weekday mornings; trains from Warsaw to Lodz Kaliska run via Lodz Widzew and Lodz Chojny on weekday evenings. In addition there there are some other connections available from Lodz Kaliska to Warsaw (some direct services and others by changing trains at Kutno, Lowicz Glowny or Lodz Widzew).
While somewhat confusing for local residents, the new arrangements are a route gricers paradise. We found at least one train that leaves Lodz Kaliska, calls at Lodz Zabieniec and Zgierz, and the changes direction at Zgierz to run down the freight avoiding line to Lodz Widzew and then follows the usual route to Warsaw.
The new timetable:
More details on PKP Intercity pages:
John Schøler Nielsen from Denmark has sent us these night photos of Lodz Fabryczna. They were taken on 20.5.2011.
Prior to 1868 trains ran further to the West to a station situated where the LDK centre now stands. Photo John Schøler Nielsen.
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A loco-hauled TLK train bound for Warsaw has just departed. Photo John Schøler Nielsen.
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Two rakes of TLK compartment stock await the morning. Photo John Schøler Nielsen.
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An PR EN57 EMU has just arrived on track 5 platform 3. Photo John Schøler Nielsen.
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The Dutch style gables of the main building are visible above the awning. Photo John Schøler Nielsen.
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Lodz Fabryczna station on its last day of operation, 15.10.2011. Photo BTWT.
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Lodz Fabryczna is no more. The station closed to passenger traffic on Sunday 16 October. The closure is the first stage of a 2 billion PLN project to relocate the station underground and to build a new skyscraper city centre on the railway land. The original 1868 station building designed by Adolf Schimmelpfennig for Karol Scheibler – the greatest of all the Lodz industrialists – is to be demolished. The advantages of the station relocation are claimed to be:
The local and national press have loudly trumpeted the claims of Infrastructure Minister, Cezary Grabarczyk, and Lodz Mayor, Hanna Zdanowska, that the development project will bring benefits to rail passengers and the city of Lodz. BTWT is not so sure.
If our doubts prove to be right, then the Lodz Fabryczna relocation will prove to be yet another expensive ‘vanity’ project. Such exercises in megalomania were commonplace during Poland’s communist past. We all supposed, when the country wholeheartedly embraced free market economics, that their day had passed.
Lodz Fabryczna last day. YouTube video by yamarotto.
On the last day, the station was busy and its car park full until the last train had run. It seemed that everyone in the city who had a camera came to pay their respects to the old station. The last train out of Lodz Fabryczna was the 22:40 PR Regio train to Koluszki. There was a carnival atmosphere with champagne corks popping and TV cameras rolling. The train was packed, many railway enthusiasts travelled out as far as Lodz Widzew and then returned on the last train in – the 23:10 TLK arrival (21:22 ex W-wa Centralna).
Three rakes of TLK carriages remained in the station after midnight, presumably these ran as ‘empty stock’ working to Lodz Widzew on Sunday morning at which stop they magically became passenger trains?
Electric passenger locomotive EP07-374 heads failed mixed traffic EU07 class loco awaiting the ‘right away’ on the 11:29 from Lodz Fabryczna to Warszawa Wschodnia on 22 May 2011.
The 11:29 from Lodz Fabryczna to Warszawa Wschodnia enjoyed super haulage this morning. The rostered locomotive was failed because of a broken radio and EP07-374 was rostered as a pilot. With both locomotives manned and worrking, the train made an impressive get-away from Lodz Fabryczna.
Lodz Fabryczna station as ‘improved’ in the 1960s.
Photo from Informator Biura Projektow Kolejowych w Lodzi by J. Boryczka
(Click on the image to see more Communist-era railway architecture photos on the Klub Starych Dobrych Czasow website.)
Work has begun on dismantling some prefabricated buildings at the old Lodz Fabryczna railway terminus – the start of a 10 billion PLN project for PKP to relinquish the 1865 station building and build a brand new railway station… underground! Lodz is – in terms of population – Poland’s third largest city. It was the second… but many of its young generation are now working on building sites in the UK. So it is interesting to look at PKP’s plans for its new station and compare them with the latest practice in the construction and renewal of major railway station around the world.
Bejing South Railway Station
(Click image to see this and other photographs of Bejing South on the Amazing Architecture website.)
Bejing South opened in August 2008. It was designed by Terry Farrell & Partners with Arup as structural and services engineer and Atkins as railway engineer. The station has 24 platforms and a capacity of 30,000 passengers per hour – 242 million passengers per year. It will serve high speed trains which will travel at up to 350 km/h. The passenger concourse is on the ground floor and escalators take passengers up to the platforms at first floor level. Access for vehicles and car parking is on the next level above. The new station replaces an earlier construction dating back to Victorian times. Bejing South is undoubtedly the most exciting new railway station design in the world.
Gare du Nord in Paris. Photo by Ignis.
(Click to see original on Wikipedia and for details of licensing.)
Gare du Nord is the most important railway station in Paris. It serves 180 million passengers a year and is the busiest station in Europe and the third busiest in the whole world. The first station on this site was built in 1846. By 1854 the station was already to small and it was demolished in 1860 . The stone facade was preserved and rebuilt at Lille. The present station was designed by Jacques Hittorff. The choice of architect was made by the chairman of Chemin de Fer du Nord, Baron James de Rothschild. The support pillars inside the station were cast at Alston & Gourley’s ironworks in Glasgow. Since it opened in 1864, the buildings and railway tracks have been extended several times. In 1975 Gare du Nord was registered as a historic monument. Today it is a major transport hub which is served by Eurostar, Thalys and TGV high speed trains; local services are provided by RER lines D and B and Metro lines 2, 4 and 5 There is also a Velib bicycle sharing facility.
Recycled Atocha Railway Station, Madrid. Photo Logan 5.
(Click image to see – and give your opinion on – the original photograph on Pixdaus.)
Madrid’s Atocha Station is a major hub on Spain’s railway network. It is served by AVE high speed trains, ordinary main line trains and the Madrid metro. Excluding metro journeys, the complex serves some 80 million passengers a year.
The first railway station on the site was opened in 1851. After a fire, it was rebuilt and reopened in 1892. The architect for the replacement was Alberto de Palacio Elissagne, who collaborated with Gustave Eiffel and Henry St James on the engineering aspects of the design. The arch of the glass roof is slightly pointed, perhaps inspired by the arch of London’s St Pancras station opened 24 years earlier in 1868.
This complex of railway tracks expanded through the years. 1985 marked the start of a major rebuilding project. In 1992, the original building was taken out of service as a train shed, and converted into a concourse with shops, cafés, a nightclub and a 4,000 m² covered tropical garden. A much larger train shed designed in the modern minimalist style by Rafael Moneo has been constructed behind the old building in the area that was formerly the station throat. There are separate mainline and commuter stations as well as a 4 track underground station for trains travelling across the city.
Part of the platform level at Berlin Hauptbahnhof. From a photograph by Daniel Schwen.
(Click image to see original on Wikipedia Commons and for details of licensing.)
Berlin Hauptbahnhof is the most important station in Berlin and has become the city’s most important transport node. It provides facilities for East – West mainline services (served by platforms raised above the concourse) and the new North South rail-link (served by platforms in the basement). It also provides facilities to a number of Stadtbahn services and is linked to a new branch of the Berlin metro. It is used by some 110 million passengers each year.
The first station to be built on the site was Lehrter Bahnhof, the Berlin terminus of the Magdeburg Halberstädter – the Hannover – Lehrte – Berlin railway. It was was designed in the French Neo-Renaissance style by Alfred Lent, Bertold Scholz, and Gottlieb Henri Lapierre. It was opened in 1871.
During WW II the station was severely damaged. After the war, the building was patched up. However, the postwar division of Berlin spelled the end for the station’s mainline status. On 28 August 1951, the final train departed from Lehrter Bahnhof. On 22 April 1958 the main entrance was dynamited. Only the Lehrter Stadtbahn station remained, serving suburban services crossing over the north end of Lehrter Bahnhof on a bridge. Demolition work was completed in the summer of 1959.
The Stadtbahnh station survived the war intact, and in 1987 was restored at a cost of about DM 10 million and was listed as a historic building, However, despite its listed status, in 2002, Lehrter Stadtbahnhof was to meet with the same fate as Lehrter Bahnhof – it was demolished. Now a new grand central station has been built on the site of the both stations. The design of the new station – a powerful symbol of a reunited Germany – is by Hamburg architect, Meinhard von Gerkan.
Zurich Hauptbahnhof from the east. Photo by Ikiwaner.
(Click image to see the original photograph on Wikipedia and for details of licensing.)
Zurich Hauptbahnhof is the busiest railway station in Switzerland and is served by trains travelling to Spain, France, Italy, Austria, Germany and beyond. It is the most important hub in the city’s integrated transport system. There are 20 terminal tracks on the concourse level of which 16 are used by main line services and 4 for local suburban S-Bahn services. There is also a lower level containing 200 shops and further platforms. On its southern side are two tracks used by the Sihltal Zürich Uetliberg Bahn commuter railway, and on the northern side there are 4 tracks used by local suburban and S-Bahn services. Another 4 tracks are under construction between the two for the new cross-city ‘diameter. The station directly links to 4 tram and bus stations. On sundays, when most shops in Zurich are shut, it becomes the busiest place in the city. It is used by some 110 million passengers each year.
The first station on the site was built by Gustav Albert Wegmann for the Swiss Northern Railway and opened in 1847. By 1871 it was already to small and it was demolished. It was replaced by a stone and steel train shed spanning 6 tracks fronted by a magnificent neoclassical headquarters designed by Jakob Friedrich Wanner. By 1902, the station was again too small, the train tracks were pushed back. The last two segments of the train shed were cut back – the remainder became a baggage handling area. Freed from the constraints of the old train shed four more tracks were added; another 6 were to follow in due course. With no more space to grow at ground level, further expansion of the station is planned to take place underground.
The new St Pancras in August 2007. Photo worldarchiecturenews.com
(Click image to see the photograph in its original context and read an informative history of the station on World Architecture News.)
St Pancras – the subject of the most dramatic and expensive railway station modernisation project in Great Britain – almost failed to make it to the 21st century. In the 1960s, a run down British Railways – desperately short of cash – planned to run services terminating at St Pancras and Kings Cross stations into a single new station, demolish the old buildings and use the land so released for property development.
Today, thanks to a £800 million refurbishment, St Pancras International, as the revamped station has been dubbed, is the most prestigious station in London. Eurostar trains run from St Pancras, over HS1 – Britain’s only high speed line, to Paris and Brussels. Deutsche Bahn wants to run ICE trains To St Pancras from Cologne and other locations in Germany.
St Pancras International Station is now one of London’s major landmarks, and an important gateway to the Continent. International services run from a new security compound within the historic train shed. Domestic services run from an extension built in the former station throat area. The new station includes 60 shops occupying 82,000 sq ft (7,600 sq m) of retail space and is used by 45 million passengers annually. King’s Cross St. Pancras is also the busiest station on the London Underground, serving over 70 million passengers a year..
Site clearance for the construction of St Pancras Station and the accompanying Somers Town Goods Depot started in 1864. Construction of the station foundations did not start until July 1866. A competition was held for the design of the station hotel and railway offices in May 1865. In January 1866, Sir George Scott’s Gothic revival design – costing £315,000 (£21.4 million at 2010 adjusted for inflation) – was chosen. The Midland Railway board was by no means unanimous, Scott’s design was by far the most expensive. In the end a British compromise was negotiated – Scott’s design was adopted, but two floor levels were lopped off the office block and one floor off the hotel!
The rest of the station was designed by William Henry Barlow, chief engineer of the Midland Railway Company, with help from Roland Ordish. Their slightly pointed train shed complements the Gothic arches of Scott’s hotel building. It has a span of 232 ft (74 m), rises 100 ft (30 m) high and is 700 ft (213 m) long. At the time, their train shed was heralded as an engineering marvel – enclosing the largest unsupported indoor space in the world. The station opened on October 1st, 1868. The eastern wing of Scott’s hotel building opened in May 1873, the rest followed in Spring 1876.
The passing years were not kind to St Pancras. In 1923, the Midland Railway became part of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway. The LMS decided to focus on Euston as it major London terminus. The magnificent hotel was closed in 1935; its closure hastened by the Great Depression. The once great rooms were partitioned turned into offices. The station experienced a brief revival in the 1960s when electrification work on the West Coast Main Line saw trains to Manchester and Glasgow running from St Pancras. These services were switched back to Euston in 1966 when the works were complete and British Railways announced its intention to demolish the station.
But it was not to be. A group of preservationists, who had fought long and hard the lost the battle to save Euston’s Doric Arch, were determined not to be defeated again. Their campaign under the flag of the Victorian Society persuaded Lord Kennet, Parliamentary Secretary at the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, to grant the station and its former hotel building Grade 1 listed status.
In the 1980s the hotel building failed a fire inspection, British Railways closed the offices contained therein and the building lay empty save for occasional film makers who relished the gloomy and neglected atmosphere. In 1990s the tide turned – a £10 million project financed jointly by British Rail and English Heritage made the building weatherproof and commenced the restoration of the station exterior. The work was interrupted by the privatisation of British Rail, but soon plans were put forward to make St Pancras the London terminus of the much-delayed Channel Tunnel link (later dubbed HS1). In 2001, work commenced on the complete transformation of the station according to designs by Norman Foster, later modified by Alistair Lansley.
The rebuilt station was opened by the Queen in November 2007. It has 15 platforms. Domestic services use 4 tracks that finish at the southern edge of the western side of the Norman Foster extension and 3 tracks that finish at the same point on its eastern side. The 6 tracks in the middle extend back into the Barlow – Ordish train shed and are used exclusively by international services. Two tracks on a lower level are used by Thameslink services.
The former Midland Hotel is undergoing a thorough rebuilding. It is expected to open in late 2011 as a 244 bedroom 5 star hotel with 67 private apartments.
More St Pancras links:
Forgive me dwelling so long on St Pancras, but its story has many unusual twists and the new building does encompass many aspects of major station modernisation best practice. A number of good design principles emerge from distilling the examples listed above:
So how do PKP’s plans for the new ‘Lodz Centralna’ station match up against these criteria? Do not miss our next post.
The original Lodz Fabryczna station, built in 1865.
(Click image to see more old photos of Lodz Fabryczna and Lodz Kaliska on the Made in Lodz blog.)
Tkt48-18 hauls the Reymont Day vintage train, Lodz Fabryczna, 20.06.2009. Photo BTWT
(Click picture to watch video.)
Wladyslaw Reymont wrote some good books and beat off rivals Thomas Mann, Maxim Gorky and Thomas Hardy to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1924. Railways were a an important part of his life. His first steady job was as a level crossing keeper at Koluszki. Injured in an accident on the Warsaw Vienna Railway he was awarded 40,000 roubles in compensation. The money allowed him to fulfil his passion for travelling round Europe by train.
So it is rather fitting that this year’s Reymont Day celebrations included a steam-hauled vintage train from Lodz Fabryczna to Lipce Reymontowskie, close to the village of Krosnowa where Reymont lived for a time. The organisers of the event included PKP InterCity, PKP Linie Kolejowe (PKP’s infrastructure company) and the Chief Executive of Skierniewice District Council. The sponsors included Bombadier Transportation. Now if only someone could persuade PKP LK to be equally accommodating to steam specials in other parts of the country… .