Pionki Progress

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Pionki Forest Railway renaissance,
October 2007, photo FPKW

One of the most remarkable railway projects in Poland is the plan to rebuild part of the Pionki Forest Railway. The railway was located in the Kozienice Forest, near Radom in Poland’s Mazowosze province about 100 km from Warsaw.

Originally, in 1916 a 750 mm gauge railway was laid down linking Garbatka – Słowiki – Lesna Rzek. This line was lifted and replace by a 600 mm gauge railway between Garbatka and z Cztery Kopce. Meanwhile a 16 km horse drawn 600 mm gauge railway was built between Pionki and Stoki. In the 1940s, both systems were connected. The network was then 30 km long. The rolling stock consisted of 2 steam locomotives, 19 pairs of timber bogies and 10 coal wagons. In the period 1947-50 an engine shed and workshop building was constructed in Pionki. By the mid-1950s the network had grown to 50km. During this period the line was worked by ex German military railway HF 0-8-0T locomotives, including, Tx 1113 i Tx 1124, and Polish built 0-6-0T LAS locomotives including, Ty 1131 and Ty 1155.

During 1962-3, a 7 km section of the line from Garbatka to the main timber store was lifted. Demolition of the remainder commenced in 1981 and was largely completed by 1983. A fragment continued in use in a sawmill until 1986. Steam locomotive Las Ty 1131 survived and went to Zagansk. Two diesel locomotives, Wls50 and V10C-559, survived for a time, but were eventually cut up for scrap. Two passenger carriages lingered on, the frame of one still exists to this day. After 1986, the only substantive remains of the railway were the engine shed and workshops at Pionki and a large concrete viaduct in the forest.

In 2002, Pawel Szwed, the President of FPKW (The Polish Narrow Gauge Railway Foundation) had the idea of converting the derelict shed and workshops into a forestry railway museum or ‘skansen’. The idea rapidly gained support and grew into the current project to rebuild 10 miles (16 km) of railway. The reinstated line would link attractions within the forest to Pionki and Garbatka. The project has gained the support of the local section of the Polish State Forests and the local authorities.

Progress so far has been concentrated in the workshop area. The track around the workshops has been relaid, the roof of the workshops reinforced and the whole building refurbished. Rolling stock from various forestry railways all around Poland has been brought to Pionki and many items have been restored. The whole area around the workshops has been attractively landscaped. A bar car serves soft drinks, beer and some of the best chips available anywhere in Poland. A handcart is available for children who want to try their hand at running trains. The skansen not only attracts railway enthusiasts, but also local residents looking for somewhere unusual to have a drink, play chess or take the kids.

600mm gauge Lyd2 looking for a good home
photo FPKW

The next stage of the project will involve the construction of 6 km of track from the skansen to a picnic area at Kociolki where the former line had a junction and triangle. As always in Poland the main obstacle is money. The FPKW is also looking for a small 1ft 11 5/8in (600 mm) steam locomotive. The FPKW have a 600mm gauge Lyd2 Romanian diesel in good mechanical condition which with its 350 h.p. Maybach engine and 0-8-0 wheel arrangement is a little too large for their needs. They would like to ‘swap’ it for a 600 mm steam locomotive. The deal could be set up to ensure a “win-win” for both sides.

Is there anyone out there with a “Quarry Hunslet” looking to get involved in rebuilding a narrow gauge railway from scratch?

More pictures:

  • Pionki Forest Railway – website (Polish)

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3 Responses to “Pionki Progress”

  1. Robert Hall Says:

    Very interesting to learn, in detail, about this former system and plans re its future. Hitherto, I’d known of it only from references in passing. Pawel Korcz’s useful little book “Atlas Waskorotowek” gives detailed accounts of a few forestry systems, but not this one.
    I see from the map, that like the NKD (though a bit further removed), this line is not very far from the tourist magnet of Kazimierz Dolny — which, to my shame, I’d never heard of prior to discovering BTWT.

  2. Gavin Whitelaw Says:

    Surely there are suitable steam locos in Poland? Very interesting nevertheless and I wish them well. They probably have to overcome a lot more than British enthusiasts had to in the late 1960s and early 1970s!

  3. Geoff Jenkins Says:

    The rise and fall of Pionki has been very rapid. It was very impressive to read reports and see the photographs of the progress that was being made on a site that until a few years ago had been nothing but a name on a list of closed and lifted forestry railways. Locos and rolling stock appeared and were restored, track was laid and what had a short time before been a derelict site was looking very businesslike. Now it seems that the railway is being dismantled and its contents are being dispersed with even more speed. It is a pity that so much effort and enthusiasm has been wasted.

    I understand that the majority of the rolling stock has gone to Rudy but do not know if it is the intention to set up a 600 mm gauge line there or if it is just a convenient storage site for the equipment.

    If I’m ever passing by it may be worth stopping for a quick look at a disused former forestry railway depot. However, I’ll be removing Pionki from my list of places to visit. It looks like the “get up and go” that made the pictures of the site look so interesting has got up and gone.

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