Archive for November 18th, 2008

Warsaw to Lodz faster in 1934!

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

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The PESA ‘Lodz tram’ at Warszawa Centralna.
Photo Monsieur Josviaque

(Click to see picture in original context.)

I’m not known for being excessively emotional, but the new PESA trains sets, that work between Lodz Fabryczna and Warszawa Centralna, have seriously ‘stroked my fur the wrong way’. I hate them with a cold fury that I’m sure is bad for my blood pressure and leave my friends shaking their heads in disbelief. I hate them because, in spite of their streamlined looks, they crawl along on the brand new, trillion PLN, railway between Skierniewice and Lodz Widzew at an average speed which is less than that achieved by the Great Western Railway’s Bristolian in 1935. I hate them because of the design of their reverse curved back-breaking seats, which no one in PKP has had the courage to rip out and replace with seating that is properly ergonomically engineered.

I get by by trying to ignore the existence of the ‘PESA trams’, preferring to travel between Lodz and Warsaw in one of the three real trains that travel between Lodz Kaliska and Centralna. My journey takes a little longer because the Kaliska trains take half an hour to wind round the broken track between Lodz Kaliska to Lodz Widzew, but the slightly faded ancient compartment stock, which goes to such distant places as Bydgoszcz or Szczecin, is infinitely more comfortable to the ‘trams’ with their cursed seats.

Sadly there is not always a real train alternative available and sometimes I do have to travel in the new train sets. Yesterday evening was one of those times when I found myself on board to the 19.20 ex Warszawa Centralna which was due into Lodz Fabryczna at 20:50, a journey time of 90 minutes. I made my way to one of folding seats near the high tech toilet. Undignified maybe, but at least the folding seats assume a normal back profile. As a result of customer complaints the rest of the seating had been ‘improved’ since my last journey. The seats, are not only the wrong shape to support a human back, they are also too small to fit the XXL standard Polish buttock. The ‘improvement’ consists of transplanting the old seats some 6 centimetres away from the sides of the train giving the passenger on the inside a little extra space. So now you can have your back broken while respecting your neighbour’s dignity.

The high tech train information boards – though more concerned with giving you information about whose namesday it is – occasionally flash up the train speed. Last time I travelled I noted a maximum speed of 137 km/hour (85 mph). This time the highest speed that we reached was 129 km/hour (80 mph). I challenged the guard about this and learned that Polish railway regulations prevent trains with a single driver in the cab from exceeding 130 km/hour. The PESA train sets are not designed for a ‘second man’ sitting next to the driver sharing his duties. I ruminated that after an expenditure of over a trillion zloty the train still did not complete the journey in the 80 minutes achieved by the in the Lux Torpeda in 1934, or even the 88 minutes achieved by the locomotive hauled Tellimena Express in the 1990s.

Dyspozytor