Rotten railway heritage


Stored in the sidings at Krakow Plaszow


Ty2-7, built by Henschel in 1944


TKw2-57, built by BMAG (ex Schwartzkopff) in 1919


TKp 26188 built by Henschel in 1944


C4i prototype 4 wheel coach

In various obscure corners on the Polish railway network there are collections of rotting historic locomotives and rolling stock. Every often PKP organises a ‘tidy up’ and another piece of unique railway history is consigned to the oxy-acetylene torch. The reason for this shocking state of affairs

Prior to the fall of communism, the Directors of PKP – aware that the impending end of steam would sweep aside much of Poland’s railway heritage – set aside a number of former locomotive depots to serve as regional railway museums. There was some chopping and changing as to which these should be, but eventually Poland ended up with 5 ‘official’ regional PKP railway museums: Chabowka, Elk, Jaworzyna Slask, Koscierzyna and Wolsztyn. In addition to these there was an unofficial PKP museum set up at Karsznice, by the manager of the railway workshops.

In addition to the regional railway museums there was a single ‘national’ railway museum in Warsaw, a ‘private’ railway museum at Krzeszowice and the PSMK museum in the roundhouse at Skierniewice. Unfortunately, the grand plan did not survive Poland’s transition to a market economy. Lack of funds, lack of vision and lack of willingness to accept responsibility have lead to the shocking situation that we have today.

All of Poland railway museums are ‘skansens’ a word of Skandanavian origin meaning originally an open air museum of historic buildings. Sadly, in Poland’s hostile climate, to store historic railway rolling stock in the open is to condemn it to gradual destruction!

The private railway museum in Krzesowice has been closed down, but not before the proprietor scrapped some steam locomotives and reduced others to a ‘Barry Dock’ condition. The future of the railway museums in Elk and Karsnice remains uncertain. Koscierzyna and Chabowka will probably be taken over by their respective local authorities and there are similar plans afoot to transfer Wolsztyn. Jaworzyna seems to be flourishing as a private enterprise. The Skierniewice roundhouse has a smashed roof and the rolling stock inside gets a soaking every time it rains. A collection of locomotives and rolling stock has been established at Pyskowice, but the society there has no security of tenure.

Smaller collections of decaying locomotives and rolling stock exist in various sidings up and down the country. A complete list of all the steam engines surviving in Poland together with their current locations is available here. The list can be sorted according to a number of criteria including: location; type, builde and date of building.



7 Responses to “Rotten railway heritage”

  1. Robert Hall Says:

    Fascinating list – concerns standard-gauge locos only, unless I’m missing some great subtlety…

    Have always wondered why the Scandinavian word “skansen” for an open-air museum, was hit on; but people’s ways with words are often strange.

  2. dyspozytor Says:

    There’s a similar list for surviving Polish narrow gauge locos here.

  3. Robert Hall Says:

    Many thanks !

  4. John Taubeneck Says:


    I noticed in one of your blogs that a museum at Karsnice Poland has an ex-US Army rail crane. These machines are an interest of mine and I would be greatful for any additional information you can provide.

  5. John Says:

    Any improvement on the situation ?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: