The P.K.D. former headquarters at Piotrkow
The sad tale of the Piotrkow narrow gauge railway, the Piotrkowska Kolej Dojazdowa, should be carefully studied by the management of all of Poland’s heritage railways. This narrow gauge line was built in 1904 to connect the small town of Sulejow to the city of Piotrkow Trybunalski. For most of its life it carried commuters from Sulejow and lineside villages to work in the factories of Piotrkow. Passenger trains called at 7 intermediate stations and took 59 minutes to cover the 17 km from Sulejow Pilica to Piotrkow Wask. After WW II the line had a major renaissance carrying lime from Sulejow in standard gauge wagons mounted on 750 mm transporter wagons. The lime was used in the sulphur dioxide filters at the gigantic Belchatow Power Station.
The viaduct across the River Luciazy
Time passed, someone decided that cleaning the suphur emissions from Belchatow was an unnecessary complication, then in 2001, someone else decided that PKP should rid itself of all of its narrow gauge railways. A preservation society, Towarzystwo Przyjaciol Kolejki Waskotorowej Piotrkow-Sulejow, took over the line and ran occasional tourist trains within the Piotrkow city limits. The line was featured in a catalogue of Poland’s industrial heritage attractions published by the Polish Tourist Organisation.
One of TKPW’s occasional trains
Just over 10 miles long, and running from Piotrkow, with its mainline connection, to Sulejow, with its many tourist attractions, (including a 20 km long artificial lake popular with sailors and fishermen) the line seemed an ideal candidate for preservation. But the Society failed to gain the support of the local authorities along the route, who had other plans. Whether this was the fault of the Society, the local authorities, or both, is a moot point! The Society lost much of its credibility when it acquired an Ol49 steam engine from PLP Cargo for a nominal price which is then promptly sold for scrap.
The longest bit of track left outside Piotrkow
This episode lead to a huge row within the Society itself. Threats of a police investigation and court action lead to the Society’s implosion. The track between the Piotrkow city limits and Sulejow was lifted in 2005. The remainder of the track within the city limits was lifted in 2006, leaving just the Piotrkow Wask yard and a few bits of rail imbeded in the tarmac at former level crossings. The rump of the Society still meet at weekends at its Piotrkow base to drink vodka and talk about how things might have been. They talk about a possible skansen and dream of EU grants.
The engine shed still houses two Lxd2 diesel locomotives and a Px48 steam locomotive. Various items of rolling stock can be seen in the yard, but for how much longer?