Now KKD threatened by ‘rain tax’

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turek

A special train stops at Dzierzbin on a July evening in 2006. Photo BTWT archives.

A 20,000 PLN ‘rainwater tax’ demand from Turek Town Council’s Water and Drainage Department has caused SKPL bosses to contemplate the abandonment of the northern section of the Kaliska Kolej Dojazdowa (the Kalisz narrow gauge railway) which currently runs from the PKP interchange sidings at Opatowek to Turek. At a meeting with Krzysztof Nosal, the Chairman of Kalsz District Council, which took place yesterday, a number of long-term development options were discussed for the future of the railway including the availability of EU funding to upgrade the line and even the possibility of restoring the link back into Kalisz itself. In view of the tax demand from Turek, the option of abandoning the section which runs through the area administered by Turek District Council was also discussed.

Joined up thinking is never a strong point of governments, but when the Polish Government passed the Act on the Commercialisation, Restructuring and Privatisation of Railways, common sense was in short supply. The Act allows a local authority to take over an unused PKP railway subject to the condition that it will used for transport purposes, even if the railway runs through territories administered by other local authorities. Sadly while roads are exempt from local taxes, the new Act did not make the same exemptions for railways.

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4 Responses to “Now KKD threatened by ‘rain tax’”

  1. Robert Hall Says:

    What is it with the people in local government in Poland — and the intense hatred which they seem to harbour, for minor railways? One feels inclined at times, to despair of the whole thing…

  2. dyspozytor Says:

    Well to be fair, I experienced the same sort of pig headedness from UK local authorities in the 1970s. I would guess that today the UK is further up the learning curve than the Poles are when it comes to appreciating the value of preserving and operating heritage railways.

  3. Geoff Jenkins Says:

    I have to admit that I’m quite impressed with the number of Polish local authorities who stepped in to support in some way various narrow gauge lines across the country. Given the demands on their budgets and the need to modernise so much of the local infrastructure I didn’t expect that they would do very much at all. Its not surprising that some of them will seek to pull in all the funding that they can and if that means sending a bill to a railway operator doing just that.

    The northern end of the railway is looking pretty derelict anyway. The KKD needs customers with freight to shift. Without suitable freight flows nothing will operate and the line will revert to nature, even if it is still officially open. I hope that SKPL is doing some serious planning about its future. After a pretty good start and few fairly steady years SKPL’s fortunes appear to be in a serious decline. Krosniewice has gone. Smigiel is only running on a small part of the line and freight traffic appears to have decreased down to one or two standard gauge wagons a week. At Pleszew they only seem to be interested in the standard gauge freight part of the operation.

    On the Zbiersk line nothing much seems to have run north of Korzeniec for a few years. However, the southern end of the line has taken a real hammering from the freight traffic and it seems to be deteriorating faster than it can be patched up. In the last year or two the trains seem to be travelling far more slowly with crews slowing right down for known stretches of poor track. I do wonder how long the stone traffic is likely to last for. It was good to see some timber traffic this year. The line needs a variety of freight flows so that it is not left without anything to do if one source of income dries up. I was very pleased that the line kept moving freight after the coal and sugar traffic to and from the Zbiersk works finished. I do wonder how long narrow gauge freight can last and if SKPL has a plan or even an interest in carrying on should it come to an end at Zbiersk.

  4. Robert Hall Says:

    Feels, in the main, a tragic situation. It’s better of course, for a railway to survive at all, than to perish; but IMO it’s much more fulfilling, for lines to be performing a genuine service moving people and their goods where they need to go, rather than functioning solely to provide rides and phot-ops to tourists and railfans. Very sadly, the “genuine service” scene on the Polish narrow gauge looks to have become almost vanishingly rare, and what little remains, likely on the way out. The way of very much of the world these days…

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