‘Luxtorpeda’ prototype at Cracow in the late 1930s.
Photo Chabowka Skansen archives
Andy Bereza has e-mailed us about a recent post in the Modern Mechanix blog quoting a June 1936 article in Popular Mechanics. Poland’s “torpedo train,” a streamline rail car that travels ninety-three miles an hour, bears the reputation of being one of Europe’s speediest trains. It is driven by a Diesel motor with automatic clutch, operating on an extremely economical basis. The car, one of several in service on Polish railroads, carries eighty-six passengers.
The Polish ‘Luxtorpeda’ was based on the Austro-Daimler VT63 petrol engined railcar. PKP leased one of these railcars in 1933 and after trialing it on a number of lines purchased a license to build the railcar in Poland. The Polish version was built by Fablok in Chrzanow and incorporated two MAN AG D4086 123 hp diesel engines in place of the two 79 hp petrol engines of the Austrian prototype. 5 Polish railcars were built. The main features of both versions were the massive 1030 mm dia wheels and the low 2.64 m height, This kept the centre of gravity low and allowed the train to take curves at a higher speed than ordinary trains.
Published sources give the seating capacity variously as 60 or 52 and the top speed reached in trials as 75 mph (120 km/h) with a maximum operating speed of 65mph (105 km/h). So it would appear that the pre-war PR department of PKP, by quoting from original design targets rather than actual operational results, were guilty of some spin. Nevertheless in 1936, a Polish-built ‘luxtorpeda’ ran the difficult 91 mile (147 km) route between Zakopane and Cracow in 2 hours 18 minutes, setting up a record which has yet to be beaten!
Two ‘luxtorpeda’s survived the German attack on Poland and operated ‘German only’ trains between Cracow and the mountain resorts of Zakopane and Krynica. After the collapse of Germany they were returned to Cracow by the Russian army in a very incomplete state and one railcar was rebuilt using the best parts from both. Sadly, the backlog of maintenance, and lack of proper spare parts meant that the surviving railcar could no longer run at anything like its design speed and so it was relegated to local duties. Both railcars were cut up in 1954.
- Wikipedia ‘Luxtorpeda‘