Polish narrow gauge status review

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Wls40 diesel locos at Trzeciewnica Station

(When local authorities first mooted reviving the Wyrzysk Railway in the 2002, PKP responded by ripping up most of the track. The section through Trzeciewnica Station was saved thanks to the initiative of a local brewery.)

We’ve always wanted to create an index to the surviving narrow gauge railways in Poland, but have always baulked at the amount of work involved. But finally, by working over two days we have managed to prepare the first edition. We’ve given each railway a ‘health rating’. The first two traffic lights indicate the current status, and the last two indicate the state last year. Basically those lines with a double green light are OK. They are the ones that we don’t worry too much about about.

(WARNING – MOST OF THE LINKS LEAD TO POLISH PAGES.)

Bieszczady Railway 750 mm
Bieszczadska Kolej Lesnia

(Wola Michalowa-Przyslup) The most famous narrow gauge railway in Poland, and the only one able to afford to maintain a regular scheduled programme of track repairs. The trackbed is owned by the Fundacja Bieszczadzkiej Kolejki Lesnej – the only heritage railway operator in Poland to own its own right of way. A project, funded by the Carpathian Foundation, to extend the railway is to the PKP station at Nowy Lupkow is underway.

Gniezno Railway 750 mm
Gnieznienska Kolej Waskotorowa

(Gniezno – Anastazewo ) Formerlt the Gnieznienska Kolej Dojazdowa, the railway was the western section of the Kujawy Railway System. The railway carried freight until PKP abandoned its narrow gauge railways in 2001. In 2002 Gniezno District Council took over the railway and appointed the Gniezno Society to be its operator.

Gryfice Railway 1,000 mm
Gryfica Kolej Dojazdowa

(Gryfice-Rewal) A fragment of the Pomeranian Railway metre gauge system. The title to the trackbed has been acquired by Rewal Town Coucil. The line is a very popular tourist attraction and enjoys strong backing from Rewal Council who have formed their own operating company which runs the line. A skansen (outdoor railway museum) at Gryfice contains a large collection of metre gauge rolling stock, including items from the former Grojecka Kolej Dojazdowa. A major EU-funded project to refurbish the railway is ready to roll.

Znin District Railway 600 mm
Zninska Kolej Powiatowa

(Znin – Wenecja – Biskupin – Gasawa) Arguably Poland’s first tourist narrow gauge railway. Regular passenger traffic ceased in 1962, although freight traffic continued for another 40 years. However, some 10 years later, PKP started a three train a day service during the tourist season to take tourists to the narrow gauge railway skansen set up in 1972 at Wenecja and the prehistoric lake village at Biskupin. In 2002, the Znin District Council and the Gasawa Town established a railway company which continues to run the tourist service.

Upper Silesian Railway 785 mm
Gornoslaskie Kolej Dojazdowa

Bytom-Tarnowskie Gory-Miasteczko Slaskie) A section of the once extensive 785 mm gauge railways that connected the coal mines and power stations of Silesia. The previous green and amber reflected the precarious financial and security status of the railway. The track connecting the railway to its extensive workshops – the largest narrow gauge railway workshops in Europe – was stolen several times. This year the local council have at last agreed to fund some of the railway’s most basic needs, hence the double green.

Naleczow Railway 750 mm
Naleczowska Kolej Dojazdowa

(Naleczow-Opole Lubelskie) The title to the trackbed has now been secured by Opole Lubelskie District Council. After SKPL’s earlier decision to withdraw from running the railway, there are now THREE rival plans to operate the line: (i) a proposal from SKPL, the current operator; (ii) A proposal from FPKW, the operators of the Rogow narrow gauge railway and the Pionki Forest Railway Skansen; (iii) An internal proposal to form a new operating company which would be owned by the Council

Piaseczno Railway 1,000 mm
Piaseczynska Kolej Waskotorowa

(Piaseczno-Tarczyn; there are plans to rebuild the line to Nowe Miast nad Pilica) This railway is part of the former Grojecka Kolej Dojazdowa sysyem. This very popular railway line has made progress by leaps and bounds. Once the private playground of a Polish Heffneresque figure, the Piaseczynskie Towarzystwo Kolei Wąskotorowej now accepts applications for membership and runs a regular all the year round Sunday service. The society has also conducted a heavy overhaul of its Px 48-3917 steam locomotive. However, there a complicated ownership strucure which makes applying for grants difficult. The line is owned by PKP, which licences it to the District Council, which licences it to the Town Council, which licences it to the Society, hence the green and amber rating.

Pionki Forest Railway 600 mm
Kolej Lesnia w Puszczy Kozienickiej

(Pionki only; there are plans to rebuild the line to Garbatka Letnisko) This forestry railway was closed in 1981 and all the track was lifted. In 2002, a project was announced to rebuild the line from scratch. The venture is being led by Pawel Szwed the chairman of the Fundacja Polskich Kolei Waskotorowych and enjoys the support of all the local authorities and the Forestry Commission. The engine sheds and workshops have been restored and the track in the immediate environs relaid. Apart from a chronic shortage of funds, the future looks bright for this project.

Kalisz Railway 750 mm
Kaliska Kolej Dojazdowa

(Opatow-Zbiersk Cukrownia-Turek; short branch to Russow) Freight workings have been cut back to Zbiersk Cukrownia following a serious derailment in 2007. Theoretically special trains can be worked through to Turek. There is a dispute with Turek Town Council which is demanding taxes for the railway land.

Rogow Railway 750 mm
Rogowska Kolej Dojazdowa

(Rogow-Biala Rawska) Arguably the best ‘museum’ railway in Poland. The Fundacja Polskich Kolei Waskotorowych have done and amazing job of collecting historic narrow gauge rolling stock from far and wide and restoring it to a very high standard. The railway has a well managed team of volunteers. The reason for the ‘green and yellow’ is that, although the railway is owned by Rawa Mazowiecka town council, it only operates on a stretch of line at its Rogow end and only runs into Rawa Mazowiecka a couple of times a year. With Rawa not seeing any benefit from its ownership of the railway it’s only a matter of time until some councillor looks begins to wonder about the development potential of the railway land. This is after all what happened at Krosniewice and here the railway WAS operating a daily passenger service from the town!

Smigiel Railway 750 mm
Smigielska Kolej Dojazdowa

(Stare Bojanowo-Smigiel, regular week day services; some special trains run to Wielichowo) Smigiel Town Council has a licence to operate the railway pending acquisition of the title to the railway land. There doesn’t seem to be a long-term strategy for developing the railway. Some trains have been hauled by steam during the summer thanks to the railway hosting some engine driver courses courtesy of the Wolsztyn Experience. The dispute with SKPL over funding has been resolved.

Jedrzejow Railway 750 mm
Swietokrzyska Kolej Dojazdowa

(Jedrzejow-Pinczow; branch to Hajdaszek) The line had a good 2008 season after rumours that it would close at the end of 2007. There is no single owner (each council owns its particular stretch of track) which makes decision making difficult. The railway operating company is owned by the District Council.

Czarna Bialostocka Railway 600 mm
Kolej Lesna Czarna Bialostocka

(Czarna Bialostocka-3km; there are plans to restore the rest of the line to Kopna Gora) A much devastated forestry railway that is being restored by a dedicated team of volunteers. The project does not enjoy the whole-hearted support of the local councils. Hence the warning signals.

Mlawa Railway 750 mm
Mlawska Kolej Dojazdowa

(Mlawa-Makow Mazowiecki) Krasne Parish Council has a licence to operate the railway pending acquisition of the title to the railway land. The long-term strategy for the railway is being managed by the Lokalna Organizacja Turystyczna Polnocne Mazowsze, a tourism development board made up of various local councils. SKPL withdrew from an operating agreement with SKrasne Council in 2007, and the railway only ran on a couple of special occasions in 2008. A small diesel locomotive has been purchased and a bid for an EU-funded project submitted.

Przeworsk Railway 750 mm
Przeworska Kolej Waskotorowa

(Przeworsk-Dynow) The other narrow gauge railway in the Carpathian Mountains. The only narrow gauge railway in Poland with a tunnel. The railway land is in the process of being taken over by Przeworsk District Council from PKP. Because of the losses incurred in operating the railway, SKPL were rumoured to have been planning to withdraw from their operating agreement. But it now seems likely that SKPL will continue to operate the line for another year at least.

Sroda Railway 750 mm
Sredzka Kolej Dojazdowa

(Sroda Wielkopolska-Zaniemysl) A fragment of a much larger railway that once ran as far as Poznan. This railway is very popular with enthusiasts and all services are steam worked. Part of the line is being turned into a cycle path. The station throat in Sroda has been tarmacked over. The bridge over the PKP main line in Sroda is life expired.

Sompolno Railway 750 mm
Sompolinska Kolej Dojazdowa

(Anastiewo-Przystronie) When PKP gave up its narrow gauge operations Polish, railway enthusiasts managed to get two local councils – Krosniewice Town Council and Gniezno District Council to take over the Western and Eastern sections of the Kujawy Railways. Sadly a dispute over rates led to no local council being prepared to take over the connecting central section. The enormous railway workshops at Sompolno have been gutted and the heavy engineering machinery sold for scrap. Amazingly in spite of a section of the line being lifted for turf mining, and another section turned into a cycle path, most of the track is still in place!

Krosniewice Railway750 mm
Krosniewicka Kolej Dojazdowa

(Krosniewice-Krzewie-Ozorkow; Krosniewice-Boniewo-Dobra; Krosniewice-Ostrowy) The Eastern section of the Kujawy Railway System. Following an approach by enthusiasts Krosniewice Council obtained a licence to operate the railway pending acquisition of the title to the railway land. SKPL became the operator. In March 2008, the Mayor of Krosniewice terminated the Council’s operating agreement with SKPL and closed the line. (SKPL were operating daily passenger services and freight services at the time.) The Mayor has informed PKP that it wants each of the councils along the route to take over its portion of line. Apart from one weekend in September when services were run between Krosniewice and Ozorkow the line remains closed. Of all the railways where we are involved, the Krosniewice Railway is the one which is getting the most attention.

Nasielsk Railway 750 mm
Nasielska Kolej Dojazdowa

(Nasielsk-Pultusk) The line closed completely when PKP abandoned its narrow gauge operations in 2001. Unfortunately no local council could be persuaded to take over the line. Remarkably most of the track is still in place! We helped to organise a meeting of the local councils a couple of years ago and followed it up with a private meeting with the Mayor of Nasielsk. Alas our powers of persuasion were insufficient! For as long as the track remains down, the Nasielsk Railway remains on our radar.

Piotrkow Railway 750 mm
Piotrkowska Kolej Dojazdowa

(Piotrkow-Sulejow) Passenger services were withdrawn in 1986. (The line ran alongside the Piotrkow – Radom trunk road.) Freight services ceased three years later. In 1990 a preservation society was formed which leased the line from PKP. Sadly they failed to obtain the backing of the local councils who opposed the reopening of the line. Occasional special trains ran through Piotrkow until about 2006 when all the track was lifted. Only the sidings (and a substantial amount of rolling stock) remains at the interchange with PKP at Piotrkow. This is the line where we wish if only… !

Elk Railway 750 mm
Elcka Kolej Waskotorowa

(Elk-Turowo; branch to Zawady-) The line closed completely when PKP abandoned its narrow gauge operations in 2001. Elk Town Council took over the railway. The line is currently worked by MOSIR, the Council’s sport and recreation department. NO OTHER STATUS INFORMATION AVAILABLE.

Sochaczew Railway 750 mm
Sochaczewska Kolej Muzealna

(Sochaczew-Wilcze Tułowskie branch to Wyszogrod and remainder of main line to Piaski Krolewskie are disused) Formerly known as the Sochaczewska Kolej Dojazdowa. Regular passenger workings ceased in 1984. A narrow gauge railway museum opened here under the auspices of the National Railway Museum in Warsaw in 1986. Freight services continued until PKP abandoned its narrow gauge operations in 2001. The line is currently worked by the Warsaw Railwau Museum. NO OTHER STATUS INFORMATION AVAILABLE

Wyrzysk Railway 600mm
Wyrzyska Kolej Powiatowa

(Bialosliwie to Lobzenica; also to branches from Czajcze to Wysoka and Niezychowo to Glesno ) This is a fragment of a much larger network. The line is worked by the Towarzystwo Wyrzyska Kolejka Powiatowa. NO OTHER STATUS INFORMATION AVAILABLE.

Please note this is not a comprehensive list of all the ‘preserved’ narrow gauge railways in Poland. Rather it is a list of all the lines whose fortunes we are most familiar with. If we have no information as to the state of the relationship between the line’s ‘owner’ and operator or the strategic plans of either, the ‘colour light signals’ are black. If you can help us complete the list and bring the status reports up to date, do please write.

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One Response to “Polish narrow gauge status review”

  1. Robert Hall Says:

    The “caution” is given, that this is not a comprehensive list: my mentioning possible additional lines / systems here, is in a spirit of interest, not of adverse criticism.

    If I have things correctly, other n/g lines still active in varying degrees – the following have featured on BTWT – are Zulawy Railway (Nowy Dwor Gdanski and points north); Starachowice Railway; and Pleszew Railway – all 750mm. And: have gathered from news items in “Lok Report” (the most recent seen, in the Aug. ’07 issue), that for some years, a preservation movement, based on Kosazlin, has been trying to revive part of the 1000mm system whose focal point is / was that town. Picture got thence, is that this enterprise is up against immense difficulties, and seems unlikely to succeed – but “where there’s life, there’s hope”…

    A couple of points re lines included in the list. Gryfice Railway: my understanding is that as well as Gryfice – Rewal, this outfit also operates the 9 km. onwards, Rewal – Pogorzelica: in fact, in the summer operating season, pattern is, shuttle service throughout the day between Rewal and Pogorzelica, with just one run each way per day from / to Gryfice (day’s first, and last, journeys), essentially to get loco and stock from / to base at Gryfice. And, there are hopes (however faint) for reopening of the section on eastwards from Pogorzelica to Trzebiatow – currently out of use because of poor state of repair.

    Sroda Railway: “part of line being turned into a cycle path” – could you elaborate? Taken at face value, this looks as though it could be rather disastrous for the railway…

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