Doom and Gloom

by

poznan_widok_rondora

Some of Poznan’s annoying trams and a ‘bendy bus’

(Photo – Empiron ‘Living in Poznan’ page.)

Geoff Jenkins has asked for more doom and gloom. ‘BTWT’ prides itself on being an interactive blog. You ask – we write.

There are good days and there are bad days. Maybe getting up at 05:00 hrs in order to attend an early morning meeting in Poznan was bound to give a grey hue to my view of the world regardless of what else would have happened today. A year has passed since the closure of the Krosniewice narrow gauge – the action of a cynical mayor more interested in the rewards of property development than safeguarding this vital section of the Kujawy Railways. Sadly, our campaign to reverse this decision has not yet brought about the desired results.

The news that SKPL sent a letter to the chairman of the Przeworsk District Council announcing that they intend to terminate their operating agreement with the Council for the Przeworsk narrow gauge railway, because there are unwilling to shoulder the accumulating loses did nothing to make me feel better.

If that wasn’t enough, I received a tip off that PKP Cargo are moving out of the Gniezno Works and that a property surveyor has already been engaged to measure the site. Apparently the mayor of Gniezno is interested in… yes you’ve guessed it… property development!

A break in the clouds of sorts – a number of members of the Wielkopolska Provincial Council are interested in pursuing an EU-funded project to provide a secure base for the Poznan – Wolsztyn steam trains.  The Director of Tourism in the provincial governor’s office would like the project to encompass, not only the Wolsztyn motive power depot but also the Gniezno workshops where the Wolsztyn steam engines receive their heavy overhauls. This year, 10 million zloty has been laid aside in the Provincial Government’s budget for developing a heritage railways tourist product.

Then the clouds gather again. This money is not available for ‘hard’ investments such as rolling-stock or track refurbishment. The money will be spent on ‘soft’ activities such as writing a feasibility study and organising study visits to look at heritage railways in other countries. When I think what a difference 10 million zloty could make to – to take one example – the Smigiel Railway I want to cry.

On the subject of money, have you heard the one about PKP Cargo already losing this year – as a result of falling freight receipts as much as they lost in the whole of 2008 – some 1/2 billion zloty and that the PKP group as a whole has a 2 billion zloty hole in its 2009 budget?

Have you noticed how annoying the trams in Poznan are? They slam their doors just as you finish your sprint to the stop, then they pull forward 2 metres and then wait for an inordinate amount of time at the traffic lights with their doors locked firmly shut. Definitely, a bad day.

I trust that after this dose of ‘doom and gloom’ you will let us publish the odd historical article as well. I find them very therapeutic. If I published unrelieved ‘doom and gloom’ every day, I would not stay sane for very long!

Dyspozytor

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3 Responses to “Doom and Gloom”

  1. Geoff Jenkins Says:

    Thanks for the doom and gloom. Keep up the good work! You are providing some very interesting information about important events. Yes, it is sad to see the decline of commercial narrow gauge in Poland and the state of PKP is a concern. However, I’m amazed that so much of the Polish narrow gauge lasted for so long and that thousands of tonnes for freight a year are still being moved during the 21st century. During the early part of the 1990’s there was persistent talk that the narrow gauge lines were going to be shut down within a year or two and that people should see them whilst they could. 17 or 18 years later there are still a few “real” lines operating and we should celebrate this.

    Sometimes it is difficult to remain positive about the situation. Last weekend some colleagues and I were looking at some video of Polish narrow gauge lines taken during the 1990’s. This decade was hardly a golden age but it was striking how much was still happening. We thought that the state of some of the lines was poor then but compared to what survives today many of the stations, depots, etc looked quite businesslike. Planning a trip to Poland in 2009 to see commercial narrow gauge in action is certainly becoming problematic.

    It will be ironic if the end of narrow gauge freight operations is caused by PKP withdrawing from the wagon load freight market or due to it charging so much that the use of rail transport fails to make economic sense.

    I enjoy reading BTWT and of course you are free to print what you will. Personally, I feel that BTWT’s unique selling point is as an English language news source for what is happening on Polish railways. The campaigning element is important as well. Maybe our letters to the Mayor of Krosniewice did not make any great difference and perhaps it would be naive to expect that they would. However, I am glad that someone took the time to organise something. It can be very frustrating to be a bystander watching events unfold and thinking that you can do nothing but observe. I feel better for knowing that I have played some small part in providing the Mayor of Krosniewice with material for paper plane making.

    I can understand that given the seemingly unrelenting bad news that is coming out of Poland you need to do something to preserve your sanity. Personally, I find that standing at the edge of a field watching an Lxd2 haul a serious amount of freight is very therapeutic. However, if writing historic articles works for you that is fine. I’ll be happy to read anything that increases my understanding of the Polish narrow gauge. Please go easy on the competitions though. I’m too stupid to do them and they tend to make my head hurt.

  2. emil Says:

    Hello,

    I know the picture for Polish heritage trains looks very gloomy for the coming year, and it gets worse with each day (for example, yesterday the news was announced that all steam trains in the Tri-city region this summer will be cancelled), but… at least there’s one good thing. The Krosniewice railway IS running, sadly not on a day-to-day basis, but there are quite a few tourist trains (for example, one on December 6th last year was an enormous success). The plans for this year in Krosniewice are quite ambitious: amongst others, there is a plan that a special train will run to Lubraniec on June 6th. So it isn’t as bad as all that…

    Emil

  3. Geoff Jenkins Says:

    I managed to see the train returning to Krosniewice on 20 September 2008 after the festival at Leczyca. It seems that the weekend was very successful. As you point out the event on 6 December 2008 was also a great success. I hope that more trains will run to Ozorkow this year and I would like to come and travel on one. It would be useful if SKOKW could give plenty of notice of when trains are going to run so that people who have long distances to travel have time to make arrangements come when the trains are operating.

    Is the trip to Lubraniec definitely going to take place? I thought that there were problems with the state of the track and that funding still had to be sorted out. It is a pity the freight trains are no longer running but I hope that some of the Krosniewice railway will survive as a tourist line, if nothing else.

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