Archive for July, 2009

Chabowka Gala to go ahead

Friday, 31 July 2009

Tr1225

Preserved Tr12-25 at the 2007 Parowozjazda in Raba Zaryte

The board of PKP Cargo have decided to go ahead with this year’s Parowozjazda, the Chabowka Steam Gala, which will take place on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 September.

This year’s Parowozjazda will – unlike previous galas – will take place entirely within the confines of of the Chabowka Skansen. On Saturday 5 September, special vintage trains will bring guests from Krakow Glowny, Zakopany and Mszana Dolna. It is likely that the first of these will be operated by a vintage electric locomotive and that the others will be steam-hauled. The train from Mszana Dolna will be the only special train operating on the Chabowka – Nowy Sacz line this year.

The following locomotives are planned to be in steam: Ol12-7, Ty2-911, Ty2-953, TKt48-191, TKh49-1, Pt47-65 (Wolsztyn), Tr5-65 (Wolsztyn). This year, as well as the usual PKP steam gala attractions, a welcome addition will be conducted tours round the workshop and the possibility of seeing some of the equipment in action.

Our friends in the British-Polish Railway and Industrial Heritage Partnership are organising a study visit to Poland for a ‘long weekend’ from 3 to 7 September to include the Chabowka Steam Gala, and the Bytom, Przeworsk and Bieszczady Railways. Most of the travel in Poland will by train. If you are interested in going let us know.

InterCity privatisation procrastination

Thursday, 30 July 2009

tabor_ic

Coaches on the Berlin-Warszawa-Express. Photo PKP.

Cezary Grabarczyk, the Minister for Infrastructure, wants to delay the privatisation of PKP Intercity until the worst of the economic crisis is over. He plans to persuade Andrzej Wach, the chairman of the PKP Group, and Krzysztof Celinski, the chairman of PKP IC that it would be better postpone the privatisation until 2011.

PKP IC badly needs a strategic investor. It is not just a case of needing funds for more comfortable and faster trains, PKP IC needs outside expertise to radically reform its governance and improve its marketing. An early privatisation would make it possible to sell off part of PKP IC – say 51% – now and wait until the company is delivering better financial results before selling the remainder.

If privatisation is delayed until 2011, PKP IC will carry on as before – relying on government handouts – rather than getting its act together. In 5 months time, EU Directive 2007/58 will open up international passenger rail services to competition. For a state-owned PKP IC, the liberalisation of international services – its most profitable business – is likely to be more of a threat than an opportunity.

The 12:50 to Moscow

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

DwBialoruskiMoskwa

Journey’s end – Moskwa Biloruski

(Click to see original and for details of licensing.)

Our story about the lady waiting at the tram stop brought us a follow up from an ex-pat Brit living in Poland. He had some important guests to look after who had flown into Warsaw from London and had asked for his help to catch the 12:50 Moscow train the next day.

He came to their hotel early on Saturday morning and joined them for breakfast. They booked out in good time and a couple of tram rides took them to Warszawa Centralna station. (They preferred tram to taxi.) At this point there was some 90 minutes to go before the departure of their train.

He guided his VIPs to the Whittard coffee house underneath the Marriot hotel and then took one of them to the foreign exchange bureau to change some money. They drank their coffee and made their way through the underground passages to the railway station. Leaving his guests temporarily he took the escalator to the booking hall to check the platform number. Some 30 minutes still to go.

No 12:50 on the departure board. Of course, being an important international train it will be shown on the special InterCity board. But the InterCity departure board was showing non-stop advertisements. He found an old fashioned paper timetable – no 12:50. Hold on, it was there, but shown as departing from Warszawa Zachodnia (Warsaw West).

He rushed downstairs with the dreadful news. We can get to Zachodnia in 5 minutes, he told his guests, but the next train is in 15 minutes. Let’s grab a taxi, said the leading VIP. Precious time ebbed as they rushed to the taxi rank, agreed a price and bundled in their luggage.

They rushed off, going up Aleje Jerozlimskie – all was well they would just make Zachodnia in good time. At this point my friend did what he should have done at the start he asked to see the railway ticket. There it was the 12:50 – departing from Wschodnia (Warsaw East). He had misread the time table – left to right is East to West not vice versa.

He turned the taxi round and the driver performed a miracle in getting them to Wschodnia – 3 minutes after their train has left! A large some of money was paid to the taxi driver and my friend – at this point on the verge of having a stroke – went off with his friends’ ticket to the information office.

Here he learnt three interesting things. First another group of Brits had had a similar experience a few moments earlier. Second, his friends could still make their destination in good time if they took the 15:40 train. Third the rebooking fee would be less than their taxi fare across Warsaw!

They made their way to the international ticket window. There was only one person ahead of them, but it took the booking attendant 40 minutes to service the customer. Finally they were at the window. Ten minutes later they were clutching their new tickets. With plenty of time to spare they went for a beer and a meal at the restaurant across the road from the station.

All’s well that ends well, although there was a moments panic when my friend misheard the platform announcement and nearly put his guests on the train from Moscow which arrives a couple of minutes earlier.

(Intending passengers please note, all Warsaw – Moscow trains call at Warszawa Centralna with the exception of the 12:50.)

ZNKT Lapy – the end

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

zntk_lapy

Bogie tank wagon type 455R for the carriage of liquified propane and propane-butane mixtures built at ZNTK Lapy. Photo ZNTK Lapy.

(Click on photo for full specifications of wagon in Polish.)

After a long and distinguished history, the story of the railway rolling stock repair and manufacturing works at Lapy in Podlaskie province, enters its final chapter. The Regional Court in Bialystok has declared ZNTK Lapy bankrupt. Some 750 employees have lost their jobs.

The history of the works at Lapy go back to Victorian times. The Warsaw – Bialystok Railway was opened in 1862 inside the Russian partition of Poland. A major station was constructed in Lapy. In 1863, the station was occupied by insurgents fighting for Polish independence. The same year the station was retaken by Russian soldiers. A year later, in 1864, 270 people were employed at Lapy station and at the locomotive shed.

In 1870, the loco shed and station passed into the hands of a Belgian-French company. This year is considered to be the start of the history of the Works. Two years later a railway technical school was opened in Lapy. In 1893 the main line between Bialystock and Lapy was double-tracked and the Lapy – Czerwony Bor – Ostroleka – Malkinia loop line was opened to traffic. The double track was extended along the main line between Lapy and Malkinia in 1897.

In 1905, an engine shed, boiler shop, machine shop and smithy were in operation. That same year the town was garrisoned by the Russian army. Ten years later during WW I in 1915 the Russians retreated in the face of the advancing German armies. As the Russians departed they stripped the works of its most important machine tools and took away the most important engineering personnel.

The Germans built a two road loco shop, a new machine shop and adapted the boiler works for carrying out heavy overhauls on steam locomotives. In 1918, it was the Germans turn to retreat. Before they left they destroyed much of the technical installation at the railway station and stripped the works of its machine tools and technical documentation.

On October 7, 1918 Poland formally declared its independence. On 1 January 1919, the works at Lapy were formally taken over by the PKP, the new Polish State Railway, under the area management of PKP’s Wilno office. A formal dedication ceremony took place on 3 May 1919 – Constitution Day – a Polish holiday. By 1929 the works employed 2,000 people.

In 1939, a small hospital wing was opened at the works. On 2 September that same year, the Germans bombed the station and the first aid post. On 8 September, some personnel and machine tools were evacuated. On 26 September, the Red Army marched into Lapy.

On 22 June 1941, The Germans began Operation Barbarossa, Hitler’s planned invasion of the Soviet Union. On 1 August the Germans classified the works a Reichsbahnusbesserungswerk. In 1942 the Germans constructed a large repair shop and three wooden shops for the repair and rebuilding of steam locomotives as well as an electromechanical workshop.

In 1943, the local branch of the AK, Poland’s Underground Army, ‘liberated’ a large cylindrical grinding machine from the works. A year later the AK commenced the manufacture of hand grenade casings. In 1944, the retreating German’s blew up the works only the old wagon shop was saved where Polish railwaymen managed to cut the detonation leads.

On 31 October 1951, the Minister of Communications signed a decree creating the Lapy Wagon Repair Works as a state-owned company. By 1953 the basic rebuilding of the Works was complete. In 1959 and 1960 the works was enlarged an electric workshop, a new repair shop and a spare parts warehouse was commissioned. A spring manufacturing facility was added in 1970. On 1 July 1982 the workshops were incorporated into PKP. In 1986 a new wagon repair shop was commissioned.

In 1989 at the Round Table Solidarity and the Polish Communist Party agreed a gradual transition to free elections and the end of single Party rule in Poland. In 1990 the works celebrated their 120 year anniversary and opened their own liquid oxygen facility. In 1991, the Works were split from PKP and became an independent state owned enterprise. In 1994 the company was made a public joint stock company. (In Russia and the former communist European companies the term ‘Joint Stock Companies’ is used for ex-State Enterprises that are now under a more free business regime. Their business conditions are somewhat different from JSCs in western countries.)

In 1995 the shares of ZNTK Lapy were transferred into National Investment Fund No 1. In 1997 the shares of the company began to be traded on the Warsaw Stock Exchange.

The trading difficulties of ZNTK date back to some two years ago when orders from PKP Cargo for the building and repair of freight wagons began to dwindle and then dried up altogether. During this time PKP Cargo started its own restructuring – cleaning up its balance sheet in readiness for privatisation by setting them up its own wagon plants as independent entities. Finally Cargo set up a brand new in house wagon repair facility. Faced with declining freight volumes Cargo had no need to outsource its repairs to ZNTK Lapy.

An acrimonious period followed when the chairman of ZNTK publicly accused PKP Cargo of offering to place orders for wagon repairs in return for bribes. A desperate scramble to find a strategic investor and to diversify out of the railway business was ultimately unsuccessful. PKP Cargo’s last order was received in February was for the scrapping of redundant freight wagons. With the follow up order for 270 employees have already been dismissed a further 480 were still on the company’s books at the start of July. No one had been paid during the last three months.

The plant’s closure is a devastating blow for a town that during its short existence has had an economy entirely based on the railway works.

Lapy_Parowoz_ZNTK

Tkh 2191 plinthed during the 120 anniversary celebrations in 1990.
Photo Athantor

(Click to see original and for details of licensing.)

Katowice to get a virtually new station

Monday, 27 July 2009

katowice_railway

The nearly new railway station planned for Katowice

Last Thursday, PKP Group chairman, Andrzej Wach, and Minister of Transport, Cezary Garbarczyk, signed off an agreement with Spanish developer Nienver to invest  240 million euro in the railway station in Katowice.

The resulting complex will include an underground car park for 1,200 cars, a major shopping arcade and office space.

Since the result will be a virtually new station we thought we should present you with a virtual interview. We did not actually talk to Mr Wach or Mr Garbarczyk, (BTWT seems to have been accidentally dropped off the invitation list) but having checked our copy against the PKP press release there can be little doubt that this is what they would have said.

D. “Mr Minister, at a time of economic downturn, may I congratulate you on this good news?”

CG. “Modernisation of Poland’s major railway stations is a key part of our strategic plan for the future of the railways. For the first time in nearly two decades the government has earmarked funds for this purpose. However, I am pleased to say that the investment in Katowice is being funded from private sources.”

“This is the first project prepared in partnership with a private partner. It’s a great day… It is the first project of this magnitude in the railway sector and I trust that it will have many imitators. We are hoping to develop a similar scheme to modernize Warsaw West station.”

AW. “This is the first project of this type and on this scale in Poland. Other major stations which will have to be modernised include Cracow, Wroclaw, Gdynia, Poznan and Warsaw.”

D. “I was disappointed not to read anything about facilities for bicycles although the improved space for pedestrians is very welcome. In combining quality shopping space and passenger services you are following in the footsteps of Milan, are you not?”

AW. “Actually we will be keeping passengers and shoppers well apart.”

D. “Er yes. I see, more Warszawa Centralna and Zlote Tarasy than Stazione Centrale di Milano.”

CG. “In 2014 we will be commencing the complete rebuilding of Warsaw Central. I think that it is more than likely that this will go ahead as a PPP deal as well.”

D. “Thank you minister. Now Mr Chairman, are you pleased that this concrete monstrosity in the ‘Socialist Brutalist’ style is being swept away and replaced by something modern light and airy which reflects the hopes and aspirations of the new Poland.”

AW. “Actually we made it a condition that the ‘socialist brutalist’ – as you so quaintly put it – elements remain. Many architects consider them icons of the period.”

D. “Quite so Mr Chairman, when I said ‘Socialist Brutalist’ I was of course using the words in their positive sense. English is a highly contextual language which can give rise to silly misunderstandings when talking to foreigners. So the hard concrete elements are being retained and will be in contrast to the new platform awnings and refurbished tunnel interiors.”

AW. “Actually, we are leaving those exactly as they are.”

CG. “In fact, the law prevents us from using private funds in that way.”

D. “Mr Minister, Mr Chairman, thank you for talking to BTWT.”

dworzecwKatowicach

A 70s icon – the existing station in Katowice

Lady at a tram stop

Monday, 27 July 2009

Tram Stop

Lady at a tram stop in Amsterdam. Photo Alan Colville.

(Click photo to see more of Alan Colville’s pictures.)

On Saturday, I saw a lady waiting in a tram stop. She was alone, preferring to wait in quiet meditation rather than to be part of the scrum waiting at the bus stop. Unlike the lady in the picture above she did not look anxiously over her shoulder to see if a tram was on the way. She knew that if she waited long enough the tram would come.

Rail transport – be it a city’s tram system or a nation’s railway network – provides our information-overloaded minds with a reference grid, a stable element in a confused world. It was railways that first unified Britain’s time keeping. In November 1840, the Great Western Railway ordered that London time should be used in all its timetables, and at all its stations. On 2nd August 1880 the rest of the country followed suit.

Railway networks also provide a convenient navigational grid. Just like migrating birds following rivers, I still refer to my mental map of  London’s canals and railways when crossing the great city and delight in exploring new links such as the Croydon Tramlink and Docklands Light Railway.

No wonder then that so many of Britain’s heritage railways started with ambitious plans to restore what had been taken away – to operate a transport service for the local community. Sadly most were forced to cut down their ambitions when faced with mounting obstacles put in their way by BR and the mandarins at Marsham Street.

The importance of railways as a uniting force is understood by governments. Hitler planned the Reichsspurbahn – a new broad gauge network to help him retain a grip on Großdeutschland the greater Germany that was supposed to arise after he won WW II. The opposite is also the case. The current disillusionment with Westminster-style democracy has its origins in the Beeching Axe – the wholesale dismemberment of Britain’s railway network which took place without any reference to Parliament. Poland’s politicians planning further rail cuts please take note.

Is it any coincidence then that the UK Prime Minister has chosen to announce an 8-year railway electrification programme at a time when his popularity is in meltdown? Sceptics will ask why the benefits of electrification were ignored during the last 12 years when the Labour party were in power.

And the lady at the tram stop? Well she’s probably still there. The trams were suspended and replaced by buses some two weeks ago when a programme of track repairs commenced.

(This post is also being posted on Tunnel Vision.)

Dyspozytor

The Polish Way – 2

Friday, 24 July 2009

dbschenker_bahnimbild-de

DB Schenker sends a lot of its freight by sea. Photo bahnimbild.de.

Poor old PKP Cargo. Not only is the economic crisis bleeding it of the revenue from highly profitable services such as carrying iron ore or aggregates. But UOKiK, the Polish Government’s Office for Competition and the Protection of the Consumer has just fined the Company a staggering 60 million zloty (12.2 million GBP).

What have PKP Cargo bosses been guilty of? They have done nothing more than operate according to principles which are standard business practice all around the world – they have given certain of their customers – with which Cargo has formed strategic alliances – additional discounts which they do not make generally available.

PKP Cargo hardly works in an uncompetitive environment. The independent Polish freight operators are increasing their share of Poland’s rail freight traffic year by year and DB Schenker – part of the German state owned railway operator – has just acquired a significant share of the Polish market with its purchase of PCC Rail.

I find it difficult to understand how adding 60 million zloty to PKP Cargo’s deficit – which already is in the range of several hundred million zloty – will make the Polish rail freight market any more competitive.

Perhaps someone should tell UOKiK that they should look at the freight market as a whole where road operators enjoy a subsidized ‘track’ for which their taxes and toll payments do not begin to pay for the wear and tear caused by their vehicles.

Come to think of it, UOKiK can’t even make my local shoe shop exchange my shoes when I find that a new shoe splits after one days wear. Perhaps the best move for the government would be to abolish UOKiK altogether?

Give me more pocket money,

Thursday, 23 July 2009

or I’ll smash my trainset!

TrainSet

(Click to buy a wooden train set from Tulip Toys.)

PKP Intercity have told the Ministry of Infrastructure that if they do not receive an additional 60m PLN subsidy (12.2m GBP), 40 pospieszny trains will be axed.

The Pospieszny train business were acquired by PKP IC  when PKP Przewozy Regionalne was split into two. The local train business was transferred to a consortium of provincial governments. The long-distance trains were handed over to PKP IC. InterCity says that it is making thumping loss and must have a subsidy to keep the trains running.

However, there’s more to PKP IC’s temper tantrum than meets the eye. PKP PR recently launched its InterRegio long distance trains. Together with the new trains is a whole range of attractive new promotions. Perhaps PKP IC hopes that this encroachment on territory it regards as its own could be stopped? InterCity would be much happier if it had the whole of Poland’s long-distance passenger train business just to itself.

DfT electrification report rated!

Thursday, 23 July 2009

More on Tunnel Vision

Derelict railway tracks

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Tymbark

Round the curve from Tymbark. Photo Michael Dembinski.

(Click photo to go to ‘On foot to Limanowa’ on W-wa Jeziorki blog.)

There is something special about a disused railway line. I remember exploring the Talyllyn Railway’s mineral extension in the mid 1960s. You passed a broken gate at Abergwynolwyn station and entered a magical land. Two lines of rails – undisturbed since they were laid in 1865 – ran parallel to each other, held in place only by moss and grass. The rail had originally been spiked to wooden sleepers, which had completely vanished, but some time ago the sleepers at the rail joints had been replaced with locally grown oak and were sometimes partly visible. The rail joints themselves were not fishplated, but the rail ends were held together in special cast iron chairs and kept in place with wooden keys. There was even some uncertainty as to what the rails were made of – wrought iron or steel?

The line skirted past ancient oaks just inside the edge of a wood on a shelf high above an ancient glacial valley. The vegetation was lush, moss covered any rocks lying along the trackbed. About one mile along the extension, just above the village of Abergwynolwyn, the shelf widened and the line forked. One line ran straight through a huge slate-built winding house. Here there was a cast iron turntable. Wagons full of coal or other supplies were once turned here and let down by gravity via a steep incline to the village below. As they ran down, they drew up empty wagons on a parallel track. The whole business was carried out without using any external source of power. A zero carbon footprint machine designed by the Victorians!

The other line by-passed the winding house and ran along on top of a slate reinforced embankment. A sharp curve brought it to the foot of the first of three inclines which raised the line to the level of the Bryn Eglwys Quarry – the raison d’être of the Talyllyn Railway. Here the line split into three sidings, which then joined up again, and then split into two tracks which once ran up the incline.

I know that there are some BTWT readers who will be able to see everything that I have described in their mind’s eye. I have tried to give an impression of the TR’s mineral extension as it was in the 1960s because nearly everything has now been swept away. The mineral extension existed in a time bubble only because the ownership of this section of line was not clear. When the TR obtained legal title, they ‘improved’ the mineral extension out of all recognition. The unique winding house above the village was demolished to give the line a straight run. The final curve was eased with dynamite. A new station at the foot of the first incline replaced the overgrown reception sidings. A short section of track – on the alignment of the original curve into the sidings – is all that remains of the old line.

These days these are few places left in Britain where rusty rails run through the undergrowth inviting the explorer’s attention. Some of my last explorations of North Wales narrow gauge railways took place deep underground where fragments of disused slate quarry tracks can still be found.

In Poland its a different picture. Parts of the railway network has been formally abandoned and the track has been lifted. Other lines have just been left in situ, with the power to the signals left switched on, in the hope of better times to come. Michael Dembinski of W-wa Jeziorki blog has been exploring some of the latter. Click on the pictures to read the articles on his blog.

Czachowek SE spur

The South-East spur at Czachowek. Photo Michael Dembinski.

(Click photo to go to ‘Another trip to Czachówek’ on W-wa Jeziorki blog.)

More:

ArcelorMittal Poland invests 5,6m €..

Monday, 20 July 2009

…to make better rails!

sterownia

Control centre for ArcelorMittal’s continuous casting line n. 3 in the company’s Dabrowa Gornicza steel plant. Photo ArcelorMittal.

A 5.6m euro (£4.8m) quality control monitoring unit was commissioned on Friday at ArcelorMittal’s rail rolling mill in Dabrowa Gornicza. The new facility can check the quality of rails up to 75 metres long at the rate of 1.5 metres/second.

Surface scale is removed as the rails pass through a cleaning unit. Lasers and high resolution cameras check the profile and the presence of any distortions in the rail. Surface defects which could lead to cracks are detected by a device which uses induction currents. Internal defects are detected using ultrasound.

The contract for the installation was signed with Knorr Technik in June 2008, a building permit was issued in April 2009, work commenced in May and the newe facility went live two months later.

Sajany Samaddar, the Chairman of ArcelorMittal Poland, considers the new unit to be a strategic development for the company and points out that the investment took place in spite of the difficult economic environment in which ArcelorMittal Poland and the whole steel sector now finds itself.

It’s good to find a company prepared to invest in Poland and to invest in the future railway transport during a time of world recession. Much of the rail manufactured at Dabrowa Gornicza is exported. ArcelorMittal Poland owns the steelworks in Nowa Huta, Dabrowa Gornicza, Sosnowiec, Świętochlowice and Chorzow and controls 70% of Poland’s steel production capacity. The company is the biggest steel producer in the world employing over 300,000 people in over 60 countries.

Photographed in Poznan…

Sunday, 19 July 2009

slow_train

Dirty open carriages that give PKP a bad name.

szynobus

SA132-014 diesel railcar. Such stock is preferred by the U.M. (Provincial Governor’s Office) Transport Department for the Wolsztyn-Poznan commuter service.

sm42_523

Przewozy Regionalne SM42-523 diesel shunter with double deck passenger stock refurbished for PKP PR InterRegio use.

The Polish Way, or TV’s late launch

Saturday, 18 July 2009

pw

Smigiel Railway transporter goods train by Marek Ciesielski

Regular readers of BTWT will have noticed a certain raggedness in our posting of late. Also the launch of our sister blog Tunnel Vision was a great non-event with huge gaps between posts. I would like apologise to all for the disruption. The reason why our publishing had developed a ‘hot box’ was that I had become heavily involved in bidding for a some very interesting railway work in Poland.

A certain Polish tourist organisation – no names, no packdrill – is about to implement a major EU funded project to promote railway tourism in their home province. The area includes several narrow gauge railways, some standard gauge ‘platelayer trolley railways’ and several other railway attractions. The work that was being put out to tender was to prepare a feasibility study – look at the major risks and uncertainties and suggest ways that they could be minimised.

One of the tender requirements was that the work should be lead by two PhD.’s – one to coordinate the tourism related work, the other to coordinate the analysis of the rolling stock and railway infrastructure which was to be the basis of the project. Strangely enough it was not a requirement that anybody bidding for the work actually knew anything about museum or tourist railways!

I found the idea of working on this project very attractive – at last there would be an opportunity to make a major contribution to the development of heritage trailways in Poland, rather than just writing about them on BTWT. I searched high and low for the PhD’s and finally found both of them. One was a university professor who had been working in the field of niche tourism during the last 17 years, the other a senior railway engineer with a major railway research and technology institute, both had had experience of similar work during the last two years – another requirement. My own role would have been to analyse the management abilities of the organisations running the various railway attractions in the province and to look at some of the regulatory and fiscal challenges which confronted them.

I put together a consortium including both our experts. It would be formally lead by a company specialising in writing EU projects. Their managing director is a stickler for quality unlike many others working in the same field. In many ways a dream team – so why was our bid not even considered? Our tourism expert had the wrong PhD! He had obtained his doctorate in sociology writing a thesis about how people spend their leisure time and culture, but the tender called for a PhD in economics, geography or politics. If he had obtained a doctorate in politics by writing a thesis on democracy in Athens at the time of Socrates our bid would have gone forward for consideration.

This is the way whereby some Poles repeatedly kick the ball into their own goal.

Dyspozytor

The bar with no beer

Friday, 17 July 2009

wars

Traditional Polish bar car interior – curtains drawn, standing room only and no beer! Photo WARS.

Yesterday the Sejm, the lower chamber of the Polish Parliament, threw out a draft statute which would have allowed alcohol to be served in trains and station restaurants. 91 MPs voted in favour of the new law, but 327 voted against. During the debate Deputy Health Minister, Marek Haber, explained that the proposed law did not have government support.

Nothing demonstrates better the power of Poland’s road and oil lobbies as the uneven treatment of drink sales as between road and rail. Nearly all Polish petrol station shops sell alcoholic drinks as do tens of thousands of roadside bars and restaurants. In spite of record numbers of accidents involving drunk drivers, car drivers are considered responsible adults when it comes to consuming alcohol. No MP would dare support a law that would ban the sale of alcohol within a 100 metre boundary from the roadside. If they tried they would soon be getting a call from their sponsors.

Yet all train passengers are considered to be desperate alcoholics incapable of moderating their consumption. Not only are we banned from buying a bottle of beer or glass of wine in trains, but when we need a drink in a railway station we find conditions reminiscent of the Prohibition. Deprived from the considerable revenue that drink sales bring (see First Great Western’s Pullman Drinks Menu) catering facilities in Poland’s trains and stations remain second rate.

In spite of the rejection of the new law, alcohol will presumably still be available on Poland’s international trains as well as from the many dodgy dealers that walk train corridors calling out Piwo Zimne, piwo zimne! during longer station stops.

PKP PLK finance chief forced out

Friday, 17 July 2009

Rynek Kolejowy reports that Polish State Railways Infrastructure Company, PKP PLK, finance and economics director Bogdan Szafranski has resigned. Details are sketchy but it seems likely that Szafranski was forced out because he failed to institute a programme to stem mounting losses.

PKP PLK boss, Zbigniew Szafranski, warned repeatedly that because of PLK’s falling revenues – particularly from PKP Cargo – PKP PLK was accumulating a huge loss and would need a state bailout to avoid massive cutbacks of the railway infrastructure. With Finance Minister Jacek Rostocki clamping down on Government expenditure, the PKP PLK finance chief’s departure would seem to herald another round of railway closures to be just round the corner.

Belgian loco cut up in Lodz

Friday, 17 July 2009

belgian

The remains of No. 14486

(Photo Kpt. Nemo, Forum Modelarzy Kolejowych. Click to see more pictures.)

FMK (Railway Modelling Forum) reports the cutting up of yet another Polish steam engine. 14486 was not a very well known locomotive. Its history was obscure and the details of its demise are not clear. Yet it had a unique provenance and deserved better than being cut up by oxy acetylene torch.

The documented history of the locomotive starts in 1955 when it emerged as works number 14486 from ZNKT Wroclaw. It was then a fireless 0-6-0 locomotive. It is recorded as first working at the Kopalnia Wegla Kamiennego Debiensko coal mine and then at the prefabricated concrete factory, Prefabet in Lodz. A photo on the pages of the Lodzki Klub Modelarzy Kolejowych shows the loco being charged with steam in August 2007.

Some time later the loco was sold and an attempt was made to cut up the steam reservoir. This was stopped and the locomotive became listed as a ‘historic monument’. The ownership of the loco appears to have changed again. On 9 July 2009 a new thread appeared on the FMK discussion group showing three photographs of the newly cut up remains. The subject was picked up by the Parowozy z Wolsztyna discussion group from which it appears that the owner was unaware that his locomotive was being cut up!

The details of 14486 sad demise are almost as obscure as the locomotive’s birth. For although we know that the engine’s last incarnation as a fireless locomotive started in 1955, that is not the beginning of its history. ZNKT built their locomotive on the frame of a Belgian 0-6-0T locomotive built in 1898.

The ease with Poland’ industrial heritage is being destroyed is obscene.

For a photographic history of 14486 see Tomislaw Czarnecki’s excellent database, Wciaz pod Para:

New viaduct augurs well for Wolsztyn

Thursday, 16 July 2009

both_viaducts

New truss girder bridge in position near Lubon. Photo TPWP.

(Click photo to read the original TPWP report in Polish.)

Further to our article of 30 May about line 357 upgrading, TPWP (The Society of Friends of Wolsztyn Steam Shed) reports on its website that the Lubon truss girder bridge was replaced on 4 July. The upgrade removes a 20 km/h speed restriction and a weight restriction whch prevented Pt 47s 2-8-2s from working over the old bridge.

From 27 June to 4 July inclusive, a KKA railway replacement bus service ferried passengers between Lubon and Sreniawa. The first Poznan – Wolsztyn steam service worked by Ol49-7 crossed the bridge on Sunday 5 July.

Last year an enormous row erupted when PKP Przewozy Regionalne suspended steam trains between Wolsztyn and Poznan – supposedly on account of the fire risk – during the summer season, one month earlier than had been scheduled. Subsequently a new agreement was hammered out between PKP Cargo, PKP Przewozy Regionalne and the Provincial Governor’s office. This year – in spite of the scorching hot summer – steam trains are scheduled to run without interruption.

More:

Buses to replace trains on line 25

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Tomaszow Mazowiecki – Skarzysko Kamienna

line_25

Tomaszow –  Skarzysko section of Line 25. Map PKP SA

(Click on the map to see the enlarged original. Click here to go the the PKP map index.)

PKP Przewozy Rejonalne will discontinue its osobowy (stopping passenger) trains on the section of line 25 from Tomaszow Mazowiecki  to Skarzysko Kamienna from 1 August. Our crystal ball shows the Opoczno – Skarzysko – Kamienna section being abandoned altogether; Tomaszow – Opoczno being worked as a long siding, servicing factories in Opoczno; and through freight services by-passing the non electrified section of line 25 (Tomaszow Maz – Skarzysko Kamienna) via line 22 and line 8.

The following trains will cease to run:

• 22221 – Opoczno dep. 05.21 – Skarzysko Kamienna arr. 6.47
• 12147 – Tomaszow Maz. dep. 15.11 – Skarżysko Kam. arr. 17.01
• 22147 – Tomaszów Maz. dep. 19.40 – Opoczno arr. 20.11
• 21144 – Skarżysko Kam. dep. 05.07 – Tomaszow Maz. arr. 7.05
• 21148 – Skarżysko Kam. dep. 14.09 – Tomaszow Maz. arr. 16.17

PKP will be running running a Kolejowa Komunikacja Autobusowa (KKA) replacement bus service on the section Tomaszow Mazowiecki – Opoczno. In the villages: Jeleń, Szadkowice, Słomianka the buses will stop some distance from the former railway stations. A (timetable is available as a pdf download.

Line 25 (Lodz Kaliska – Debica) has already lost many of its passenger services. Particularly unfortunate is the case of Sandomierz where the station served a local population of some 35,000. Although Sandomierz is an important tourist destination and has a strategic railway junction, its local passenger services abolished as from the 2006/07 time table. Other line 25 stations, like Baranow Sandomierski, are being subject to death by a thousand cuts.

Try entering a journey from Lodz Kaliska to Baranow Sandomierski into the PKP on-line timetable. Both stations are on line 25. Lodz Kaliska is at the very beginning. Baranow Sandomerski is some 269 kilometres down the line. The fastest train journey shown lasts 11 hours 23 minutes, involves taking three trains and travelling via Koluszki and Katowice; the next fastest takes 11 hours 39 minutes, involves four trains and a bus and zig-zagging round Poland via Kutno and Lublin. In this way PKP maintains the fiction that places like Baranow Sandomierski (which incidentally has one of Poland’s prettiest palaces) – are still served by train.

Naleczow future rests on volunteers

Monday, 13 July 2009

naleczow

Volunteers work on the track of the Naleczow Railway. Photo G. Sykut

Grzegorz Sykut reports that a meeting between supporters of the Naleczow Railway and representatives of the Opole Lubelskie District Council took place on 5 July. It was resolved that a new organisation be set up to coordinate volunteer work and run the railway in the future. The next step will be register the new body with the local court.

The photo shows Gregorz and two other volunteers replacing a sleepers. If you are interested in helping the revival of this railway Gregorz would be glad to hear from you. His e-mail is: gsykut [at] gmail [dot] com Remove spaces and convert “at” and “dot”.

High speed feasibility study shortlist

Sunday, 12 July 2009

The tender commission set up by the main PKP holding company, PKP Polskie Linie Kolejowe S.A., to choose a colsulting company to prepare an EU-funded  feasibility study for a high speed line from Warsaw to Poznan and Wroclaw has shortlisted six candidates. These are the companies that have made it to the second stage of the tender process:

– Ingenieurbüro Dipl.
– Ing H. Vössing GmbH,
– SYSTRA,
– SENER Sp. z o.o.,
– Ingenieria IDOM International S.A.,
– Pöyry Infra GmbH.

So no Arup. A pity!