Archive for the ‘Wolsztyn’ Category

Wolszstyn steam – proceed with caution

Saturday, 2 August 2014

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:

Wolsztyn – The Final Parade?

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

WOL-7315

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.

 

WOL-7076

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.

IMG_6891

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

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.

No deal. No steam.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

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

IMG_1829 - 870x650

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

Poland’s TWO steam galas

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Behind The Water Tower

The ‘all hands on deck’ highlight of the 2013 Wolsztyn Steam Gala, Video by lukas125p .

There are TWO ‘mainline’ steam galas in Poland: the well publicised Parada Parowozow which takes place each year at Wolsztyn and the less well known Parowozjazda at Chabowka.

The Wolsztyn Gala, whose 20th anniversary was celebrated on the 27 April this year, is  undoubtedly the event which is responsible for keeping working steam locomotives in the public eye in Poland.

The Chabowka event deserves to be better known offering as it does the sight of a parade of vintage trains – freight and passenger – rather than just steam locomotives. A couple of steam specials offering photos stops for enthusiasts are also run on the Chabowka – Nowy Sacz line as far as Dobra k. Limanowej.

This year, the Chabowka gala is due to take place on 24 August and with the Nowy Sacz line on PKP’s closure list it may be the last year that steam specials operate over that line.

Highlights of the 2012 Parowzjazda. Video by rafstak.

Sadly, because of the lack of support from local councils, and lack of imagination from those responsible for marketing the event to potential stakeholders, Parowozjazda is now a pale shadow of days gone by.

Not so long ago, connecting specials ran from Cracow and Zakopane while the parade of vintage trains took place at Rabka Zaryte. Today, the sidings at Rabka Zaryte have been lifted and Parowozjazda takes place within the confines of the Chabowka ‘Skansen’.

With a hat tip to Mike Stollery of the Swanage Railway.

More:

Partnership, the key to Wolsztyn success

Monday, 29 April 2013

2_x_tkh

On the left DB Schenker owned Tkh 5353, built Chrzanow 1953; on the right Tkh 5695 (carrying the number Tkh49-1) from Chabowka, built Chrzanow 1961. Photo Marek Ciesielski.

In spite of the clouds and rain, the 20th annual Parada Parowozow held at Wolsztyn over the weekend 27/28 April was an outstanding success.

A few months ago the prospects for the event looked decidedly gloomy – the town council at Wolsztyn was reported to have withdrawn from financing the security arrangements; the Poznan Department of PKP Cargo had its funding for the event cut to the bare bone…

In the intervening months, the wind seems to have changed. Maybe someone whispered into the ear of Cargo senior managements that this was to be the 20th steam parade, and the last to be held before PKP Cargo is privatised by a share floatation on the Warsaw stock market?

Wolsztyn locos-9607

The two Tkh locos and 4-8-4T 464-008 from the Czech Republic steam towards the station. Photo Marek Ciesielski.

Money was evidently found, and Cargo set itself the target of having 20 engines in steam at the event. In the end they were some half dozen engines short, but neither this nor the bad weather seemed to damp the spirits of the huge crowd who came to watch the parade, or ride on the record number of steam trains organised by TurKol.

The fireworks and lightshow were moved from their traditional slot on Friday evening to Saturday evening guaranteeing that many people stayed on till late.

Significantly as the event drew to a close, the chairman of PKP Cargo was seen to confer with the Chief Executive of the Wielkpolska provincial government and local Cargo managers. Hopefully a sign that a deal to secure not only the steam depot, but also its unique ordinary passenger schedule steam trains, may well be on its way.

More photos:

Clouds gather over Wolsztyn services

Monday, 1 April 2013

Wolsztyn_clouds

Ol49-69 at Wolsztyn Station on a service train in August 2012. Photo BTWT.

The idea always carried some risk – setting up a separate body to run Wolsztyn Shed – the new body to be owned by PKP Cargo and the local authorities. Neither have a strong reputation for marketing or a passion for steam, two of the criteria that we would be looking for in any organisation to run the steam depot through the new millenium.

At least under the original scheme (see, BTWT 19.03.2010), the new company was going to be well capitalised – PKP’s Cargo’s steam locomotives and the shed was going to be valued at 5 million PLN and a similar amount in hard cash was going to be brought in by the Wielkopolska provincial government. Historic locomotives were going to be restored to running order and Wolsztyn was going to become a world class tourist attraction.

But it was not to be, negotiations with PKP Cargo dragged on. How many Cargo officials were trying for a place on the board of the new company as a sinecure to ends their days in profitable retirement? Meanwhile local government elections were held and the main proponent of the project in the Wielkopolska Urzad Marszalkowski (Chief Executive’s office) had moved on to pastures new…  .

By September 2011, PKP Cargo’s main board had passed the necessary resolutions, but the U.M. was having distinctly cold feet. The scheme returned to the drawing board. Now it has returned in a new guise, but with the capitalisation very much reduced. Instead of 10 million PLN, the new company will start operations with a capital of 1 million.

PKP’s contribution will be 500,000 PLN (in the form of a transfer of title of the steam locomotives) and the 3 local authorities (the Wielkopolska, provisional government, the Wolsztyn District Council and the Wolsztyn Town Council) will contribute 170,000 PLN each.

Not only is the cash component ludicrously small, but presumably this time round the title to the property is being excluded from the deal and the new organisation will be hobbled from the start by having to pay a commercial rent for the land and buildings occupied by the shed.

wolsztyn_slide_1

Slide showing income from hauling scheduled steam services ending in 2017. Slide UMWW.

Thanks to some accounting magic running the shed under the new regime is going to be profitable! The ‘expensive’ scheduled steam services will be phased out by 2017 (see graph) and the new organisation will concentrate on running ‘profitable’ steam specials for tourists. Now Jerzy Kriger’s letter (see BTWT 23.01.2013) can be understood in a wider context. The loss of weekend services is just the beginning of the run down of steam-hauled passenger services leading to their complete elimination by 2017.

Whoever wrote this plan clearly has no understanding that what makes Wolsztyn different is that it is the running depot for the world’s only main line regular steam-hauled passenger service that is NOT based on ‘steam specials’.

Without its scheduled steam passenger trains Wolsztyn become another historic steam depot and falls from its spot at the top – as the world’s only steam depot servicing locos running regular passenger trains – to ‘just another steam centre’.

The rescue plan as drawn up by the UMWW (Wielkopolska province Chief Executive’s office) shows only three locomotives being maintained in running order: Pt47-65, Ol49-59 and Ol49-69 – hardly a world class attraction.

What is more Poland is littered with remains of similar schemes that have failed. The steam sheds at Elk and Koscierzyna were going to make a profit running steam specials. Chabowka’s once popular public steam specials now only run at the time of Parowozjazda – its annual steam gala.

Without  PKP PLK, Poland’s infrastructure manager, all such schemes are doomed to failure – PKP’s track access charges are amongst the highest in Europe and steam-hauled specials enjoy no special rates.

Tr5-65-1000720

Tr5-65 awaiting overhaul at Leszno. The Orenstein & Koppel built ex Prussian railways 2-8-0 is absolutely unique, but will it ever steam again? Photo BTWT.

Sources:

Fire at Wolsztyn

Monday, 25 February 2013

Steam services suspended.

wolsztyn-fire

Carriage fire at Wolsztyn, 25 February 2013. Photo OSP Keblowo.

(Click to see the original photo on the TPWP website.)

At around 1am on Monday 25 February the fire brigade were called to a fire at Wolsztyn. One of the two carriages used for the regular steam service was almost completely destroyed in the blaze, though the fire brigade managed to prevent it spreading to the second coach. With no spare steam heat-capable stock Koleje Wielkopolskie were forced to cancel today’s steam service. A railbus normally used on the Leszno service was substituted.

This unfortunate event has highlighted once again how tenuous the steam hauled service at Wolsztyn is, where the loss of one coach or a single locomotive failure can lead to the suspension of the service, often for a week or more. The steam service may now be suspended for some time until Koleje Wielkopolskie can obtain a suitable replacement coach.

Wolsztyn Loco Shed

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Some grounds for cautious optimism

wolsztyn

On a hot summer’s day in August 2012, Ol49-69 has just arrived in Wolsztyn with the service train from Poznan. Photo BTWT.

A number of readers followed up our appeal published on 8 November regarding the demise of weekend steam-hauled services between Poznan and Wolsztyn. Now, considerably later, the replies to readers’ letters and e-mails have started to come in. Here is the translation of a typical letter. It has been signed by Jerzy Kriger, the Director of Transport in the Chief Executive’s office of the Wielkopolska provincial government.

Dear Sir,

In answer to your email, regarding the matter of the withdrawal of weekend steam hauled passenger services from Poznan to Wolsztyn, I would like to inform you as follows:

Because of the limited financial means available to the province of Wielkopolska, and bearing in mind the high costs of steam-hauled railway services, as well as the introduction of a new railway time table from 9 January 2012, we have abandoned weekend working of services  with steam haulage. However, it should be borne in mind that the current operations of the locomotive shed in Wolsztyn is based mainly on the operation of scheduled trains which are commissioned by the local government of Wielkopolska province. A different solution for example by retaining only weekend services could, on one hand attract a greater number of tourists, but on the other hand would cause problems for the current owner in covering the cost of the locomotive shed’s operations. An important matter which has to be borne in mind is that the steam locomotives released by this change will be able to serve a larger number of tourist services.

I would like to inform you that the local government of Wielkopolska Is currently working on a project to set up on the basis of the existing facility the Wolsztyn Locomotive Shed Company whose shareholders would include, among others, other local governments. The main object of the company would be tourist / recreational operations such as organising and running of steam-hauled specials and tourist trains as well as the operation of the locomotive shed. It is planned that the new organisation would operate scheduled timetable services as well as special services, particularly the operation of various kinds of chartered trains. The range of operations is intended also to include the provision of passenger services in the area of Wielkopolska.

Thank you for your interest in the matter. I would like to share with my hope that we will be successful in delivering this project. First of all, it would allow the Locomotive Shed to be preserved as part of our cultural heritage, and at the same time there will be a chance to increase the attractiveness and scale of the railway services hauled by steam.

Respectfully yours

Jerzy Kriger

Director of Department

More:

The end of daily scheduled standard gauge steam in Poland

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Ol49-59 undergoing servicing at Wolsztyn. Photo John Savery.

News has reached us that the steam operation at Wolsztyn is set to suffer further cutbacks. The Wielkopolska government is making drastic budget cuts in 2013, believed to be in the region of 25%. One of the casualties will be the daily steam services from Wolsztyn, which are due to end with the December timetable change.

Ten years ago, Wolsztyn would send out three engines a day. For the past few years, this has been reduced to one engine a day. The latest cutbacks will see the 7-days-a-week service reduced to just 5 days per week, with the withdrawal of weekend services.

One would expect the impact on the town to be fairly major. Wolsztyn’s weekend steam tourists come not only from Poland but also from all over Europe and beyond. It is estimated that Wolsztyn Experience clients alone put as much as 500,000 zloty into the local economy each year, with an additional 500,000 zloty coming from other tourists who also visit the region. If the weekend steam services cease it is certain that the number of rail enthusiast tourists visiting Wolsztyn will fall dramatically, and with it, the amount of money that they inject into the local economy.

This threat to the local economy and local tourism flies in the face of the efforts currently being made by the Polish National Tourist Office, who, this very week, are trying to entice visitors, who may have visited during the Euro 2012 championships, back to Poland.

Behind the Water Tower readers are not known to give up without a fight.

Questions need to be asked about the cost/benefit gained by moving to a 5 day-a-week service as opposed to maintaining the 7 day-a-week operation.

Steam locomotives are serviced on a time interval based servicing regime, rather than on a days in steam servicing regime. Boilers become due for overhaul after a fixed time, regardless of whether they are in steam or not. Operating costs are therefore not proportional to usage. Savings on overhauls by a reduction in usage will be limited.

What will PKP Cargo do with the locomotives at weekends? If they are laid up cold, this cycling of the boiler each week is likely to only add to repair bills for the locomotives due to the constant thermal cycling of the boilers causing additional wear. If the locomotives are left in steam over the weekend, then this will still require staff at the depot, limiting the cost savings that are made by not running the locomotives.

Diesel railcars have been prone to failure during cold and snowy weather. Do Koleje Wielkopolskie intend to make improvements to the flimsy design of these railcars to make them more weather proof?

Readers who feel they would like to make their views known to the relevant authorities may care to use the following addresses. A well written hard copy letter carries more weight than an email, however, given the tight timescales involved, it will not hurt to send an email copy as well, with a note that a ‘hard copy’ is in the post.

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 Deputy Chief Executive of Wielkopolska Province

Wojciech Jankowiak
Wicemarszałek Województwa Wielkopolskiego
al. Niepodległości 18, pokój 340, budynek C
61-713 Poznań
POLAND

tel.: 61 626 66 10
fax: 61 626 66 11
e-mail: wojciech.jankowiak@umww.pl

The Wielkopolska Tourist Organisation

Ewa Przydrożny
Dyrektor
Wielkopolska Organizacja Turystyczna
ul. 27 Grudnia 17/19, I p
61-737 Poznań
POLAND

ewa.przydrozny@wot.org.pl

The Polish National Tourist Office

Mr Boguslaw Becla
Acting Director
Polish National Tourist Office
Level 3, Westgate House
West Gate
London W5 1YY

bogdan.becla@poland.travel

Mr Roman Gozdzikowski
General Manager
Polish National Tourist Office
Level 3, Westgate House
West Gate
London W5 1YY

roman.gozdzikowski@poland.travel

The Mayor of Wolsztyn

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

burmistrz@wolsztyn.pl

The Polish Ambassador

Witold Sobków
H.E. The Ambassador of the Republic of Poland
The Embassy of the Republic of Poland
47 Portland Place
London W1B 1JH

london@msz.gov.pl

Lorry collision stops steam

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Steam services from Wolsztyn have been suspended following a collision between a lorry and Ol49-69. The collision, which took place on 11 September, caused some damage to the locomotive, including bent motion.  The lorry suffered serious damage, with most of the cab destroyed.  The lorry driver was lucky to escape with his life, with parts of the cab attaching themselves firmly to the locomotive.

Damage to Ol49-69 following the collision on 11 September

Ol49-69with the remains of the lorry’s door  firmly attached to the loco’s cab. Photo James Shuttleworth.

Whilst the loco was out of traffic for a couple of days whilst repairs were effected at Wolsztyn, it has since returned to service.

The reason for the disruption to the service this time, was not due to the unavailability of a loco or crew, but down to the the cold snap that seems to have caught everyone unawares. The only suitable steam-heated coaches which Koleje Wielkopolskie  had available were involved in the collision. These still require repair, with their steps being ripped off in the force of the collision. (The Poznan-Wolsztyn services are run by Koleje Wielkopolskie, with the locos and their crews being provided by PKP Cargo, and the coaches leased from Przewozy Regionalne!)

With temperatures dropping as low as 3C at night at present, and with no other steam heated coaches available, PKP has taken the step of substituting a diesel railcar until suitable coaches are in service.  It is understood that steam services will return as from today’s (Thursday 27 September) afternoon working.

Stop press

We understand from a senior railway source, who wishes to remain anonymous, that yesterday PKP Cargo signed an agreement for the purchase of 10 passenger coaches, suitable for steam haulage, from Czech Railways at a very good price. The second class coaches are destined for the Poznan-Wolsztyn service; the first class coaches are expected to see duty on various steam specials.

A Week in Wolsztyn

Friday, 14 September 2012

Prior to 1970 Rakonowice was the Western terminus of the Smigiel Railway. Here Ol49-69 waits at Rakoniewice Station in the late afternoon on 29 August 2012. Photo © Christian Cederberg.

(Click to enlarge.)

One of the delights of publishing Behind The Water Tower is receiving photographs for publication from our readers. For several years we have showcased the hauntingly beautiful photographs of the Smigiel Narrow Gauge Railway taken by Marek Ciesielski. Sadly the Smigiel line, as it then was, is no more. It hangs on, as a pale shadow of its former self, cut off from its passenger and freight links to the standard gauge network, little better than a ‘funfair railway’ running a few times each year.

 

An unusual view of the Wolsztyn roundhouse taken through the window of the turntable operator’s cabin on 28 August 2012. Photo © Christian Cederberg.

(Click to enlarge.)

Today we are pleased to feature the photography of Christian Cederberg who lives in Copenhagen and was in Poland for a week at the end of August to photograph the Wolsztyn – Poznan steam services and what other interesting trains he could find.

How long before modernizers and those who ‘do not see the point’ bring about the death of regular steam haulage in Poland? Ol49-59 near Ptaszkowo on 28 August 2012. Photo © Christian Cederberg.

(Click to enlarge.)

In the end, with nothing stirring that week on the Opatowek-Zbiersk section of the Kalisz Narrow Gauge Railway, Christian decided to concentrate his efforts on the Wolsztyn – Poznan line. We think his photographs are magnificent. What do you think?

Ol49-69 at Wolsztyn on the evening 28 August 2012. Photo © Christian Cederberg.

(Click to enlarge.)

Christian is the webmaster of www.damplokomotiv.dk – an archive of colour railway photos from all around the world which is well worth exploring. To see all his photos from this trip in glorious full screen size, just click the link at the very end of this post.

‘Steaming off into the twilight’ – actually an early morning shot, not evening – Ol49-69 between Granowo and Strykowo on 29 August 2012. Photo © Christian Cederberg.

(Click to enlarge.)

More:

Wolsztyn recruitment

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Engine crew give Pm36-2 a quick check at Wolsztyn. Photo BTWT.

Wojciech Lis’s website parowozy.com.pl carries the story that PKP Cargo has recruited 4 new enginemen to retrain to work with steam locomotives at the Wolsztyn shed. Three are former enginemen, the fourth is a young trainee whose higher education is being sponsored by Cargo.

We are delighted to be able to report good news in the same post as announcing that BTWT has passed the milestone of 500,000 hits. To all – readers and contributors – who have made BTWT a success our heartfelt thanks. Thanks also to Podroznik for today’s lead story.
More:

PKP Cargo plans for Wolsztyn locos

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Pociag do Wielkopolski 23.7.2012 – rail enthusiast produced Wielkoplska province TV programme.

According to Andrzej Jablonski, a Director of the Wielkopolska Division of PKP Cargo, the company wants to maintain 4 working steam locomotives to maintain a reliable Wolsztyn-Poznan service and cope with  steam specials.

Major overhauls will be moved from Leszno to Chabowka where there is already a team of steam fitters based at the ‘skansen’. Jablonski wants to keep two of the Wolsztyn Ol49s in service and also Pt47-67. He also has his eye on Ol49-100 in Chabowka, which – although out of service since 2006 – is reported to have a good firebox.

Jablonski also has a ‘wish list’ of locos that he would like to see in service which includes Warsaw Railway Museum-owned Pm36-2 Piekna Helena and 4-6-0 Ok1-359, but with the Pm36’s ticket due to expire (the loco will need a new firebox) and the Ok1 being not powerful enough for the Poznan turns, it is likely that, for the time being at least, his ‘wish list’ will remain just that.

With a hat tip to Podroznik for the story.

LKR – Stranger than fiction

Friday, 1 June 2012

by Rob Hall

Former Danish MA 461-470 diesel unit on a Lubuska Kolej Regionalna working in the early 1990s. Photo Mohylek.

(Click on image to see original on Wikipedia and for details of licensing.)

The Wolsztyn scene underwent a big change on 23 May 1993, PKP ceased to be responsible for passenger services on two of the five lines radiating from Wolsztyn itself: those to Sulechow, and to Nowa Sol. For a few years up to that date, those two less important lines, had been the ones over which most of Wolsztyn’s steam passenger workings had operated.

Passenger diagrams were re-jigged for the benefit of enthusiasts and tourists, so that a decent number of workings on the remaining passenger lines (Wolsztyn – Poznan, and Zbaszynek – Wolsztyn – Leszno) were regularly steam-worked.

From the above-mentioned date, a new and strange thing came to be, concerning passenger services in the area. A new undertaking was formed, titled Lubuska Kolej Regionalna – to operate in PKP’s stead, local passenger services on a number of secondary lines in Lubuskie province (encroaching a little way into the province to the east, Wielkopolskie, in which Wolsztyn is located).

Six such lines came into operation by the new LKR:  some – such as Wolsztyn to Sulechow, and to Nowa Sol – ‘seamlessly’ taken over upon PKP’s ceasing to work them; others with passenger services being restored months-or-years after PKP had closed the lines to passengers.

LKR took over six lines in all: the two from Wolsztyn itself, already referred to; the Toporow – Sieniawa Lubuska section of former PKP Table 334;  the Kolsko – Slawa Slaska section of former PKP Table 347; the parts of PKP Table 352 involving workings Nowa Sol – Kozuchow – Niegoslawice and return; and former PKP Table 357 Tuplice – Leknica.

What LKR found, to work its services, was – of all unlikely things – several express-diesel-multiple-unit sets (four-car, I think), recently redundant from the Danish State Railways, and bought by LKR second-hand from that source. In their homeland, these units had been designated Lyntog (Lightning Train).

They were based at LKR’s headquarters at Czerwiensk, whence – seven days a week — they worked remarkably complex and lengthy diagrams which managed to give an average of two or three workings each way daily, over each of the six taken-over sections. To get from HQ, to one, and then to the next, and the next, taken-over branch in order to serve them, the Lyntogs traversed still-PKP-passenger-served routes, carrying on public-passenger business on same.

This way of doing things meant that in a fair few cases, LKR could not even pretend to run services at times which fitted in with people’s required travelling hours – everything had to be geared to the diesel units’ diagrams. Thus, the two daily return workings between Kolsko and Slawa Slaska all happened in the time-window approximately between 1500 and 1830 hrs. – they involved the 14:17 Wolsztyn – Nowa Sol, and the 1645 Nowa Sol – Wolsztyn, interrupting their journeys to run the 14 km from Kolsko to Slawa Slaska and back again.

Ingenious all this may have been, but there was another adjective which asks to be applied to it: ‘nonsensical’. It came as no surprise to learn that as at early February 1994, the undertaking had gone bankrupt, and all its services had been withdrawn. An approximate eight-month career – mayfly-like, indeed.

The LKR handled passenger services only; after 23 May 1993 PKP continued to work freight over some portions of LKR’s six lines. They did so south-west of Wolsztyn, for instance; including 11km of former Table 347 south of Slawa Slaska (thus not traversed by LKR passenger workings), to Krzepielow.

In the light of the basic absurdity of the whole LKR undertaking, one has to wonder just what it was all about.  It would seem – either a valiant but naïve and poorly-set-up attempt to offer a genuine public service; or something else?

I don’t think it unjust to say that post-the fall of Communism, Eastern Europe has been heavily beset by a great variety of scams – some of them very strange – carried out by resourceful folk. An associate of mine (a self-confessed cynic) came up with the theory that the business with the LKR, was a racket whose perpetrators found an easy way to have handed over to them by PKP, free of charge, the stations and other associated buildings on the lines concerned.

A brief spell of ‘Lewis Carroll’ passenger operation, planned so as to be totally non-viable, and speedily to fail; and after its collapse, plenty of ex-railway real estate for the perpetrators to sell off for development.

I have some doubts about the veracity of this scenario: there is the consideration that it would maybe only work for sections totally relinquished by PKP: as mentioned above, PKP continued to work freight on parts of the lines concerned, and would presumably have continued to need the infrastructure for that purpose.  At all events, the time which LKR and its Lyntogs spent on the public stage, was exceedingly brief.

May Days – Spoilt for choice

Saturday, 28 April 2012

But not everyone is celebrating!

Chabowka Tkt48-191 at the 2010 Wolsztyn Parade. Photo BTWT.

(Click to enlarge.)

With so much going on during the Majowka (May Days) week for narrow gauge enthusiasts, it is only fair that BTWT should also cover some of the standard gauge attractions as well. When we look at something we look under the carpet as well, so be prepared for some critical comments!

Wolsztyn 28 – 29 April

The May festivities start with today’s annual Wolsztyn Steam Locomotive Parade. This is the biggest event of this kind in Poland and is attended by some 30,000 people. One would think that, with so many visitors coming from outside the area, the burghers of Wolsztyn would be enthusiastic supporters of the event. True, Wolsztyn Council does provide the security guards, but that is all.

How wonderful it would be to have some sponsorship from the town towards the costs of running steam specials from Warsaw and Wroclaw connecting with the event. (There is a special train from Wroclaw, but it is not steam-hauled; and one steam-hauled service from Poznan.)

The Council members appear to regard Parada Parowzow as a side show to their Dni Wolsztyna (Wolsztyn Days). They put on pop concerts, a sailing regatta, fishing competitions and support events put on by local schools. A couple of years ago the Mayor of Wolsztyn was overheard by one of our friends listing the attractions of Wolsztyn at a tourism promotion event in Warsaw. Not once did he mention the Steam Depot, the Steam Locomotive Parade or the steam-hauled trains to Poznan!

If today’s huge crowds, steam engines charging up and down a short piece of track and a light show are not your cup of tea, why not go to Wolsztyn tomorrow? The crowds and overseas steam locomotives will have gone, but there will be steam trains running from Wolsztyn to Stefanowo and Rakonowice and a chance to see Chabowka’s Tkt48-91 doing some useful work.

At the end of each year’s Parada Parowozow the same question is asked, Will there be another parade next year? And each year the answer is the same, With PKP Cargo on the verge of privatisation and with Wolsztyn Town Council being so laid back about their steam shed and steam trains, who knows?

Jaworzyna Slask – 28 April – 6 May

The Industry and Railways Museum at the old Jaworzyna Slask steam depot is running special attractions during the whole week. There will be conducted tours of the museum and its collection. Demonstrations of the turntable, a chance to ride in vintage coaches, and from 1 May a chance for a cab ride in the museum’s Tkt48-18.

The management of Jaworzyna Slask is not loved by the Polish railway enthusiast community. Some difficult decisions had to be made at the start of the museum’s existence, not dissimilar to the Festiniog Railway’s scrapping Moel Tryfan in 1954.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the affair, today the museum’s collection looks superb, Tkt48-18 (thanks to the generosity of Wolsztyn Experience) is in working order, and the museum’s approach to its paying visitors is 100% professional.

Koscierzyna – 2 May

Koscierzyna is one ex PKP Skasen that nearly got away. Its rescue is largely due to the efforts of Miroslaw Szymanski, the former Chief Executive of Fundacja Era Parowozow who lobbied tirelessly for its takeover by the local council.

The museum is open every day, on 2 May the Skansen celebrates its 20th birthday and entry will be free. There will be a railway themed concert and the unveiling of a statue commissioned by the council celebrating the line of 18° latitude. One wonders why the council could not have commissioned the restoration of a particular item or rolling stock instead?

Skierniewice – 5 May

The Polskie Stowarzyszenie Milosnikow Kolejowych (Polish Railway Enthusiasts Association) are holding an open day at Skierniewice on 5 May. The amazing collection of railway rolling stock at Skierniewice deserves to be better known outside Poland and this is one event which we would enthusiastically endorse with no reservations.

We do have one question which though we have asked the PSMK authorities several times has not been satisfactorily answered. Why – given the society’s very visible need for money – don’t they charge admission to their open days and raise income from ancillary activities like selling guides and refreshments? Or are they afraid that if they do the local council will turn round and hit them with local taxes levied at commercial rates?

Those not celebrating!

Chabowka

Amazingly, with a permanent staff of some 8 people, some 6 locomotives in working order and a full time official responsible for marketing, the Chabowka skansen  is not putting on anything special during the May Days holiday. It is true that the skansen despatched Tkt48-191 to Wolsztyn with a couple of coaches and its also true that Chabowka put on the annual Parowozjada steam gala in August, but given the resources devoted to the skansen we find it incredible that no attractions – however modest – are being put on during this period.

Just to show what the skansen team are capable of – when they put their mind to it – the official web pages boast that on 31 March a private freight train was run at the behest of a – presumably wealthy – German enthusiast from Chabowka to Nowy Sacz along this disused line.

We have long admired the engineering expertise of the technical team at Chabowka and their achievement in keeping so many engines in working order with minimum resources. It is a great pity that the people responsible for marketing the skansen do not have the same ‘can do’ attitude.

Karsnice

Images of Karsnice. Video by .

The Karsnice skansen is a very sad case. It was started by the manager of the railway workshops there in 1989 and a sizeable collection of locomotives and railway rolling stock was built up. His plan was to transfer the collection to a special trust, but he received early retirement (and a reduced pension!) before the trust could be set up.

When he left the Karsnice workshops the collection was left in limbo and then PKP’s real estate department, PKP Nieruchomosci, started selling the exhibits. One Ty2 went to the Lodz holocaust museum a couple of other locos were sold to the PSMK at Skierniewice.

A ‘Save Our Skansen’ campaign was run by the neighbouring town of Zdunska Wola and some leverage at ministerial level was provided by some international friends. Officially the skansen was repreived. The rolling stock and the land it stood on was transferred to the Zdunska Wola Town Council.

The council managed to raise some funds and obtain an EU grant to cosmetically restore some of the rolling stock. But Nieruchomosci transferred only the bare minimum parcel of land. The shed where the Karsnice vintage train of wooden four wheel carriages was not included. This great video by Lukasz Szyczyk shows the tragic result.

Elk

Sadly, the orphaned skansen here never found a local council ready to take it over with devastating results. Now Nieruchomosci are auctioning the surviving Ol49-80 and the remaining workshop equipment.

Wegerzewo – Ketrzyn railway line

This was Poland’s only ‘preserved’ standard gauge railway line. It was saved by the Stowarzyszenie Hobbystow Kolejowych (Society of Railway Enthusiasts) who persuaded the local council to take the line over.

There was a flurry of activity here in 2008 since then nothing!

Pyskowice

The threat of court action continues to hang over the skansen. There was a court hearing last week which was immediately suspended because key PKP witnesses had not attended. The next session will take place on July 10. Till the matter is resolved the Skansen remains closed. More BTWT readers are needed to assist with the lobbying effort that is going on behind the scenes. Please get in touch if you would like to help.

Skierniewice or Naleczow or both?

So where to go next week? It has been a while since I visited the Skiernievice Skansen so the open day there is a big temptation, but Gregorz Sykut writes that the Stowarzyszenie na Rzecz Rozwoju Nadwislanskiej Kolei Wąskotorowej (Association for the Development of the Nadwislanska Narrow Gauge Railway) is running a special train followed by a film show at Karczmiska station.

The train, film show and car parking are free. The start is at 5.30 PM and the Society have a plan to finish at 9:30 PM. At the station there will be an  opportunity to purchase a meal from the grill and drinks. More details from: gsykut@gmail.com.

Hmm, narrow or standard gauge? Naleczow is not all that far from Skierniewice… it would be great to visit both!

Dyspozytor

Whither Wolsztyn?

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Ol49-59 having just come off its train at Wolsztyn, 6 February 2012. Photo ©Christian Cederberg.

(Click on image to expand.)

I am very fond of the Wolsztyn ‘kettles’ so it is a real treat to be able to reproduce these atmospheric photographs taken by Christian Cederberg, the webmaster of the Dampdreven blog. The Wolsztyn – Poznan  steam workings are, to the best of my knowledge, (does any BTWT reader know of any other example?) the world’s last regular scheduled steam-hauled passenger (as opposed to tourist) mainline railway service. Christian visited Wolsztyn between 4 and 7 February and was kind enough to share these images with us on BTWT. If you would like to see the rest of his wonderful photographs please follow the links at the end of today’s post.

Ol49-59 and train pass through Strykowo, 6 February 2012. Photo ©Christian Cederberg.

(Click on image to expand.)

Following our posting of John Savery’s recent photographs of Ol49-69 under repair in Leszno, a considerable discussion has taken place in the comments column of that post. The bottom line is that Leszno-overhauled locos are not as serviceable as those that had been shopped out of Gniezno, and that not enough money is trickling its way down from the sizeable grant paid by the provincial government to work performed on the locomotives themselves. Readers of the Aubrey-Maturin books by Patrick O’Brian will not need reminding that a similar fate befell the sizeable grants voted by Parliament each year to fund the maintenance of His Majesty’s Navy in the days of Nelson.

Ol49-59 and train at Grodzisk Wielkopolski, 6 February 2012. Photo ©Christian Cederberg.

(Click on image to expand.)

More:

No Steam Today – Postscript

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Ol49-69 at Leszno on 27.11.2011. Photo John Savery.

(Click image to enlarge.)

John Savery writes –

I’ve been following the blog on “No steam today”.  There are actually overhauls going on at Leszno at the moment, and some money is being put in to get more locos in steam.  I’ve attached some photos of Ol49-69 (previously 99) in Leszno taken 27 November when I was last out there.  The boiler is currently in Pila being overhauled, with the bottom end being done in Leszno.  Ol49-23 is next in line.  The tender is also being overhauled, with a new tank being fabricated.

A tender receiving attention. Photo John Savery.

(Click image to enlarge.)

We are always pleased to hear from readers, especially when they can add some more information to a story published on BTWT. John Savery’s photo report from Leszno works casts a more optimistic light on the future of the regular steam services running between Wolsztyn and Poznan.

But hold on a moment, there seemed something dreadfully deja vue about John’s 27 November picture of the bottom half of Ol49-69 at the head of the article. A quick sort through the BTWT photo archive dug up the photo below taken on 17 September! Can anyone report on any more progress on this loco?

A rather less dusty Ol49-69 on 17.09.2011. Photo BTWT.

(Click image to enlarge.)

Wolsztyn – Poznan steam workings resume

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Pacific Pm36-2 Piekna Helena comes off the afternoon Leszno – Wolsztyn – Zbaszynek working ready to run round her train on 17 April 2011. Photo BTWT.

(Click photo to enlarge.)

After the completion by PKP PLK of a major upgrading programme for the track and infrastructure between Poznan and Wolsztyn, steam services returned to the line on 11 December.

The last regular steam service on the Zbaszynek – Wolsztyn – Leszno line ran on Friday 9 December. On Saturday the service was diesel hailed while Ol49-59 ran ‘light engine’ from Wolsztyn to Poznan to enable drivers to familiarize themselves with the upgraded line. On Sunday 11 December – the first day of the new timetable on Poland’s railways – the restored Wolsztyn – Poznan passenger workings were also hauled by Ol49-59.

The new service consists of a twice daily run from Wolsztyn to Poznan and return: Wolsztyn dep. 5:16 – Poznan arr. 7:13, Poznan dep. 9:20 – Wolsztyn arr. 11:17; Wolsztyn dep. 13:39 – Poznan arr. 15:47, Poznan dep. 17:20 – Wolsztyn arr. 19:16.

After Pm36-2’s run from Zbaszynek there is a short break at Wolsztyn. The loco is is watered and coaled. Photo BTWT.

(Click photo to enlarge.)

From June 1st 2012, when the track is bedded in, the morning outward and the return afternoon working which carry most of the commuter traffic will become a limited stop service. This will reduce the current 1 hr 57 min journey time to to 1 hr 23 min. Note the current timetable can be downloaded from the Koleje Wielkopolskie (KW) website, the links on the Przewozy Regionalne website still point to the withdrawn timetable.

From 1 June 2010, the steam services, together with many other local services, have been the responsibility of Koleje Wielkopolskie (KW), the local rail services operator owned by the Wielkopolska provincial government. KW receive a special subsidy for the steam service, from the Wielkopolskie provincial government.

Actual service delivery is by means of steam engines and crews hired from PKP Cargo and coaches leased from Przewozy Regionalne. Or at least that is our understanding of the current arrangement. Please write if you know anything different! The operating locos this winter will be Ol49-59 and, Warsaw Railway Museum-owned, Pm 36-2. Ol49-69 is due to return from overhaul at Leszno during the winter.

Bearings and motion receive attention and then the loco returns to the station to haul her train to Leszno. Photo BTWT.

(Click photo to enlarge.)

As well as the regular Wolstyn – Poznan services, steam fans can expect a number of steam specials in 2012. The Instytut Rozwoju i Promocji Kolei (The Railway Development and Promotion Institute) are running a number of steam specials under their tourist train brand Turkol. The following steam specials currently appear on the Turkol website:

14 April 2012 – Piernik,

Route – Poznan Glowny – Gniezno – Inowrocław – Torun Glowny – Poznan Glowny.

2 June 2012 – Pirat

Route: Poznan Glowny – Oborniki – Pila – Okonek – Kolobrzeg – Kolobrzeg Port.
Kolobrzeg – Okonek – Pila – Oborniki – Poznan Glowny.

A number of other dates for Turkol steam specials (presumably tentative) are given on the Wolsztyn Experience website.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 250 other followers