Wolsztyn-Poznan steam to run all 2009!

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Line clear for steam trains throughout 2009?
Ol49-69 2-6-2, January 2009. Photo © Wojciech Lis

(Click to see gallery of Parowozy z Wolsztyna January 2009 photographs.)

Wojciech Lis runs the excellent Parowozy z Wolsztyna website, from which the above picture is taken. Yesterday, he published a link to a Poznan Radio Mercury interview during which Stanislaw Taciak, Manager of the Railway Transport Section of the Transport Department in the Wielkopolska’s Govenor’s Office, announced that funds had been found to support the Wolsztyn-Poznan steam service all the year round.

BTWT immediately contacted its man at Wolsztyn Experience who exclaimed, That’s the first that I’ve heard of it! Our source then consulted Howard Jones and provided us with this on-the-record quote from Howard.

If that’s the case then it’s good news. But we also have to be realists as far as the economics are concerned. What killed us last year, was not the 6 week break in July and August that we always have, but the 3 month June-July-August break that we were suddenly confronted with without any warning. Wolsztyn Experience had clients booked in June that had booked footplate courses and we had to invest heavily in paying for special trains and light engine movements in order to meet our obligations.

It would make sense in the late July-August period to suspend the Poznan service and run just one train from Wolsztyn to Leszno. This would take into account the need to give crew their summer holiday break and to carry out maintenance on the Ol49s. A Leszno train could service holiday destinations, like the lake at Boskowo, and would give an opportunity for recently overhauled Pt47-65 to stretch its legs. (Pt 47s cannot run to Poznan because of a weak bridge.)

After so much doom and gloom in 2008 about the continuation of Wolsztyn’s steam trains, BTWT is delighted to be publishing some good news at last. It does seem to us a pity though that whoever is making these decisions in the Governor’s office does not see fit to include The Wolsztyn Experience in the loop.

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One Response to “Wolsztyn-Poznan steam to run all 2009!”

  1. Gavin Whitelaw Says:

    They had 3 months to get the locos into good condition this year (well slightly less as it happens) but they still fail as Cargo won’t spend the money. The sensible thing to do would have been to cancel the footplate courses as the participants should have travel insurance to cover this sort of eventuality.

    More time and money needs to be spent on the day to day locos as they get the hammering on the Poznan run and there are at least 2 locos in boiler ticket that cannot time the Poznan run (Tr3, Ok1) and the Pt47 that cannot run to Poznan due to axle weight.

    Running one loco twice to Poznan a day racks up the miles (200 a day, 7 days a week) and that cannot be good for the loco as there are no overnight fitters to attend to running faults and they will just get worse and worse rather than being maintained in a fit condition.

    It would be more sensible to have two in steam and share the runs keeping the one not running in light steam with a green fire in the box to keep the boiler hot when not required. This also would have the benefit of a loco in steam at the shed for visitors and a fee could then be charged for shed entry and footplate runs up and down the back road on the shed. At the moment there is nothing for a visitor to see except a shed of dead engines out of steam and you can see that at ANY rail museum.

    If the budget is calculated on that basis AND a charge is made for shed visits – rather than the free for all walkabout that it is at the moment then it may start to partly pay its way. Steam locos are NOT cheap to run!

    The Leszno run was nice, but amazingly wasteful with, I think, a seven hour layover at Leszno. HOW was that cost effective? Perhaps I am missing something but sometimes it was diagrammed for TWO crews to work, one out, one back! A lot of manpower for a 28 mile journey each way!

    A bit of a rant I admit, but Wolsztyn only provides motive power for two trains a day and with all the fitters/drivers and shed staff there is NO way it can pay its way without some creative input and that just isn’t happening. Tourism in Poland is in its infancy but they don’t seem to be able to learn from elsewhere.

    PKP officials seem to have a love/hate relationship with Wolsztyn. The kudos that it generates is (I think) by and large seen as a good thing and they are quick to have a beano with the engines and stock from time to time, but are loathe to put any money behind their sentiments. One or two do their best and really try to help, but I fear it is the same as British Rail in the late 1960s, steam is seen as an anachronism in today’s brave new world. If true that would be a shame as you don’t really know what you have got until it is gone. And then that is IT! Gone! It won’t come back.

    Wolsztyn could be so special if only ALL the relevant factions got together but I think that is a pipe dream. You would think that they would have at least contacted Howard before making the announcement, but I fear that there are more machinations at work than we know about and it may all end in there being too many factions each pulling in their own way and the depot not surviving.

    The depot, locos (and coaches) should be put in trust (or the Polish equivalent if there is one) and in a financial package that enables funding from the EEC to keep it as it is. The rolling stock could then be leased out to run the service on a basis that they cover their costs. Wages should still be paid for the staff by the rail company who get the motive power to run the service.

    I cannot see Wolsztyn surviving long term unless something along these lines is done… .

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