Archive for August, 2009

No man’s land

Monday, 31 August 2009

pociag pancerny001

This armoured train, intended to keep Soviet VIPs safe during WWII, is now retired in the Railawy Museum in Warsaw. But for how much longer is the Museum itself safe?
Photo © Jerzy Dabrowski, ONS picture agency.

The Railway Museum in Warsaw moves into unfamiliar territory tomorrow. The Museum remains open, but the licence agreement under which the Museum occupies the old Warszawa Glowna site has been terminated by PKP and ends midnight today. PKP has proposed a new licence on the basis of a commercial rental of some 720,000 PLN (£155,000) per annum to run for a period not exceeding two years. The sum proposed is many times more than the Museum can afford and the proposed duration hardly allows enough time for the Museum to identify a suitable site, obtain planning permission, construct the necessary facilities and move the collection. The question of how such a move should be financed also remains in the air. Watch this space!

Crony capitalism

Sunday, 30 August 2009

trakcja01

Overhead catenary worth millions is stolen, trains and road traffic is delayed for hours, but no one will be prosecuted.
Photo © Adrian Wozniak.

(The photo comes from a post on Adrian Wozniak’s blog blozek. Click to see it in its original context.)

About a year ago, during refurbishment works on the railway line through the centre of Warsaw, I heard a station announcer apologise that the train service at Warszawa Centralna would be badly disrupted because some signalling cable had gone missing. What possible use is brand new brand multi core signalling cable? Railway signalling, of course! But how can material stolen from PKP be ‘recycled’ and sold back to PKP for reuse elsewhere? Read on.

According to an article in the current issue of the Polish weekly “NIE” the loss  to PKP due to theft and corruption by company insiders runs into billions of zloty each year. In an interview with journalist Dorota Zielinska, Tadeusz Juszczyk who worked for PKP as a starszy kontroller – a senior internal auditor  lifts the lid on some of the details. In the 1990s, he and three of his colleagues uncovered a major scandal involving writing down the book value of assets being transferred to the PKP’s new daughter companies, selling them at their real value and pocketing the difference. They estimated that losses to PKP were in the order of 800 million zloty. PKP local bosses ‘rewarded’ Juszczyk by hauling him off before a medical commission and trying to prove that he was unfit to work. Unfortunately the commission pronounced him 100% fit, so he and his family were punished by depriving them of access to PKP’s own health service.

When PKP withdraws services from a railway line the track should be left down until the local authorities have had a chance to consider taking the line over. However, in practice on many closed lines, unofficial scrap contractors get to work as soon as the last train has passed, often with the full knowledge of local rail bosses. A 100 km long railway line between Pyskowice and Dabrowa Gornicz worth billions of zloty just vanished. But that’s not the end of the scandal, old railway sleepers are turned over, given a quick lick of creosote and sold as new to construction companies working on track refurbishment contracts. Such ‘restored’ sleepers quickly decay so the track gangs are carefull to insert a brand new sleeper every three sleepers or so to keep the track to gauge until its time to repair it yet again.

A 22 km section of track between Lubiebiec and Trzepizury was modernized with the help of EU funding. The undergrowth was professionally cut back, new drains were dug, the ballast was replaced and new sleepers were laid. Some prisoners out on working party from the nearby jail nearby accosted Juszczyk, “We’ve been locked up, but here the thieves can do their work in the open.” The controller asked them to elaborate. “Can’t you see they are using old rails?” He checked for himself. The thieves were right. When he reported the matter to his boss he was told that everything was all right. Trains had to run over the old worn out rails at nor more than 20 km/h a year later the track was relaid with new rail.

Travelling around his patch Juszczyk lost track the number of times he came across advertising hoardings and kiosks at stations for which there was no registered agreement. “How come you were not challenged by the local managers?” he would ask. “Nobody noticed that we were here?” he would be inevitably told. Contracts to cut undergrowth, or in the winter clear snow, would be signed, money would change hands and the work would never be done. Or in some cases the work would be done, but by railwaymen working for PKP, while the private company run by rail bosses took the profit.

The situation as described by Juszczyk is a major scandal which should lead to the appointment of an independent audit commission under the direct supervision of the Ministry of Finance. Tragically, for a country making its painful way from communism to capitalism, similar przekręty (fiddles) take place in other state owned companies. So what are the chances that Poland’s Finance Minister, Jacek Rostocki, will act? I remember arguing with Rostocki in the early 1990s when he was advising Leszek Balcerowicz (the perpetrator of Poland’s economic ‘shock therapy’) that Poland needed a reformed judiciary and more transparent laws for the new system to work effectively. “Some people think that capitalism in Poland will work in the same way it does in England,” he said with a smile. “What Poland will get is capitalism as it operates in South America”. So don’t hold your breath that anything will change real soon.

Dyspozytor

Three engines in steam at Wolsztyn

Thursday, 27 August 2009

2locoswolsztyn

Two locos at Wolsztyn, September 2008. Photo Peter Southey.

Unusually there will be three engines in steam at Wolsztyn this Friday. Pt47-65 is being readied to haul Saturday’s Wolsztyn Experience sponsored steam working to and from Wroclaw. Ol49-59 will be in light steam getting ready for Sunday’s Grodziska Kolej Drezynowa special to Szwajcaria Czarnkowska. Ol49-7 is the loco used on the twice daily Wolsztyn-Poznan workings.

Polish engineering quality

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

bow

Another narrowboat nearing completion, 1000 miles from Braunston!

Apologies for our non-appearance yesterday. The campaign to save the Railway Museum in Warsaw is still absorbing a huge amount of resources. You may ask, ‘what campaign?’ as we have not yet published names and addresses to whom letters should be sent. This is not an oversight, but deliberate. At present our colleagues in the British-Polish Railway and Industrial Partnership are concentrating on asking the major international organisations concerned with with industrial and railway heritage to write directly to the relevant Ministers. We want to ensure that each of these letters receives the minister’s individual attention and is not filed away with hundreds of similar communications. The follow up will be to send as many letters from individuals as possible, but not just yet.

Engineering quality

Yesterday afternoon was spent visiting a boatyard in the middle of Poland that produces dutch barges and narrowboats. The engineering quality is superb and the timescales are impressive – 6 months from order being placed to delivery for a ‘one off’; and  an amazing 3 months, if ordering a standard ‘off the shelf’ design. Prices are not that cheap, but are competitive with UK yards. The owner estimates that of the 900 narrowboats produced each year for Britain’s canals, nearly one third are being built in Poland!

Lyd-1

Pleszew Railway’s Lyd1-255

For those BTWT readers who are not interested in narrowboats here are some photographs of the Pleszew’s railway’s Lyd1-255 which has acquired a new livery following a general overhaul. The locomotive was returned to traffic on 19 August.

Lyd-1b

Do drop me a line if you would like to order a narrowboat, a refurbished Lyd1 may be more difficult to arrange!

Dyspozytor

500 posts milestone

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Farewell Tooum!

Monday, 3 March 2008

Faithful readers of Behind the Watertower trying to access the blog have been wondering about the strange error message that has been displayed during the last couple days. Has Dyspozytor been finally disposed off by the dark forces which rule the Polish rail world? Well this time, at least, the answer is more mundane, in an attempt to titivate the heading, I seem to have brought down the entire blog. Attempts to log on result in a an error message to the effect that there is no such user. E-mails asking for assistance met with no response. There were other problems with our old host, Tooum.net, that I won’t bore you with. Finally, I decided that, while we have only 30 or so regular readers, it won’t be too painful if we collectively take the plunge and move to a another host. WordPress, is mature, stable and very easy to update and edit. My apologies to all for the inconvenience. I look forward to delivering a much more reliable service on the new host.

If you have any Polish railway news or comments (or even exciting railway happenings from further afield) please feel free to write. Dyspozytor can be reached at railfan(at)go2.pl (don’t forget to replace the ‘(at)’ with a ‘@’).

Best wishes,

Dyspozytor

I thought I would celebrate passing the milestone of our 500th post by reproducing the first ever article that we published on our WordPress host. BTWT did have a brief existence on Tooum.net for a couple of months earlier, but thankfully we made the move to wordpress.com before too much material could be lost when Tooum vanished into a black hole.

I see from our archives that during our first week in March 2008 we launched our campaign to rescue the Krosniewice Railway and reported on the plight of the locomotives and rolling stock that had been stored in the so-called ‘skansen’ at Krzeszowice.

Today, we are heavily involved in the campaign to save the collection in the care of the Railway Museum in Warsaw. The Krosniewice Railway remains closed and much of the surviving Krzeszowice stock is rusting in sidings at Krakow Plaszow. In Poland, some things never change.

For those who count such things we have also just passed 132,000 hits!

Best wishes

Dyspozytor

Will Railway Museum close in September?

Saturday, 22 August 2009

salonka bieruta

One of the exhibits of the Railway Museum in Warsaw, the private coach of Boleslaw Bierut, president of Poland 1947-52 (following rigged elections), first secretary of the Communist Party 1948-56, who maintained a Stalinist reign of terror until his death in Moscow in 1956. The coach was built just before WW II for the French government, but never delivered. Photo © Jerzy Dabrowski, Oko na Swiat, photo agency.

A meeting took place on Friday 21 August between Ferdynand Ruszczyc, the Director of the  Railway Museum in Warsaw and representatives of PKP SA, Poland’s State Railway company.

Up to now PKP negotiators, who are trying to force the Museum to move out of  Warsawa Glowna station had been taking a hard line negotiating stance. They had demanded that the Museum quits its premises by the end of August, and had threatened to cut off the museum’s hot water supply and to demolish some of the museum’s buildings. Stung by the resulting hostile press coverage, PKP’s negotiators are now adopting a more conciliatory approach.

They suggested that the Museum and PKP sign a commercial lease which would enable the Museum to stay on its existing site until the Museum’s new location was ready. The agreement would run from 1 September for a maximum term of 2 years. PKP are claiming that the Museum’s occupancy of the station site has costed them 4 million zloty (£850,000) to date and is costing them 26,000 zloty (£5,500) each month.

PKP wants the Museum to relocate to a plot in the Praga district of Warsaw, not far from Warszawa Wilenska station. The plan would be for PKP to hand the land over to the City Council in settlement of unpaid local taxes. City authorities are reported to be resisting the proposal. Ferdynand Ruszczyc estimates that relocating the collection and building a new museum could cost between 50  and 70 million zloty (£10.6 – £14,8 million). Neither he, nor the provincial government, has such funds at their disposal.

PKP has terminated the Museum’s licence to occupy Warsawa Glowna station effective 31st August. What will happen to the Museum after that? At the moment the battle is being fought in the pages of the Warsaw press and in smoke-filled rooms in government offices. Watch this space!

Warsaw’s railway stations…

Thursday, 20 August 2009

or the dance of the seven fails

Warszawskie_Dworce

Opening slide of PKP’s Powerpoint presentation – Railway Stations of the Warsaw loop.

(Click side to download the presentation as a ppt file – from PKP SA website.)

PKP SA, the Polish State Railway Company, has prepared a Powerpoint presentation of its development plans for Warsaw’s railway stations and has made it possible to download the presentation from its website. (You need to have Microsoft’s Powerpoint program installed on your computer before you can view it.) The presentation is in Polish, but a great deal of the information is presented in the form of graphics which are self-explanatory. here are our observations and our recommendations – the latter in italics.

  1. Warsaw’s northern loop is completely ignored. Of the northern loop stations only Warszawa Gdanska is shown as being modernised, but no details are given.

    Invest in the northern loop line. Run a London Circle Line style circular service from Warszawa Śródmiescie, through W-wa Powisle, W-waStadion, Radzyminska (new station to connect with the W-wa Wilenska line), Starzynskiego (new station to connect with buses and trams), W-wa Zoo, W-wa Gdanska, Rydigiera (new station to connect with buses, trams and ‘Arcadia’ shopping centre), W-wa Gorczewska, W-wa Kacprzaka and W-wa Zachodnia (new connection and platforms).

  2. The plan to retain the present location and rail layout of Warszawa Centralna is short-termism at its worst. Central Warsaw desrves a world class station with suburban trains and the Metro within easy walking distance. The existing arrangements where mainline trains, suburban trains and the Metro are all in different locations is a disgrace.

    By all means give the existing station building a facelift in time for Euro 2012. But then use the time so gained to design a really world class station next to Warszawa Srodmiescie on the corner of ul. Marszalkowska and al. Jerozolimskie. (The original site of Warszawa Glowna prior to WW II). If space is as tight as PKP claim it is, build it on two levels – Eastbound trains on top, Westbound on the bottom.

  3. And what of the Poland’s high speed line? Where are its trains supposed to terminate?.

    See above.

  4. The new Warszawa Wschodnia. The ticket hall looks like the existing Warszawa Wschodnia. Station design has changed dramatically (shops, cafes) but PKP seems content with designs that it last produced for the communist government in the 1970s.

    Hold an open competition for this important site.

  5. W-wa Stadion – ditto.

    See above.

  6. Port lotniczy Warszawa Okecie – Ghastly! The Cracovians have done a much better job with their new tram stop underneath Krakow Glowny station.

    Can someone explain to me why this station and its branchline is even being built? You could run fast trams down the middle of al. Zwirki i Wigury for a quarter of the cost and in half the time!

  7. Warszawa Zachodnia. Details about passenger facilities, car parking and public transport integration conspicuous by their absence.

    Given that Zachodnia is also Warsaw’s biggest bus station, surely some thought should have been given to the practicalities of passengers transferring between road and rail?

Overall the presentation seems designed to help PKP sell its property development plans to the Mayor of Warsaw and her council with very little thought being given to creating a modern railway that caters to the needs of its passengers.

Overall result – F.

More details (in Polish):

Testing, testing… Wildenrath or Jan Kiepura?

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Taurus

The first Siemens ES64U4 multi-system Eurosprinter locomotive delivered to Poland.

Last Sunday’s Kurier PKP published an interesting article about the homologation trials being carried out by CNTK, Poland’s Railway Research and Technical Centre, on the Siemens ES64U4, prior to the locomotive receiving type approval for operation in Poland. (Click here to read it in English via Google Translate.)

During these trials the ES64U4 reached a record speed of 235 km/h (146 mph) on a specially prepared section of the CMK line. While the locomotive testing programme is perfectly orthodox, the method employed to certify passenger coaches seems just a tad unusual.

There are two stages in testing the newer PKP IC coaches which are being certified for high speed running. First of all, the coaches are tested on Polish tracks in order to receive certification for running up to 160 km/h (100 mph). Then we carry out final tests on German tracks.What usually happens is that the wagon being tested is fitted up with sensors and then attached to the Jan Kiepura train which runs from Warsaw to Amsterdam.

Full marks for Polish ingenuity. Dyspozytor urges the bright lads at CNTK to go a stage further. Why not offer a competitively priced testing programme to the UK TOCs and Network Rail. Simply attach the vehicle to be tested to the next freight train through the Channel Tunnel, tow it to Amsterdam, fill it up with sensors and attach behind the next Jan Kiepura to Warsaw!

test_track

The usual place for testing railway vehicles. The Siemens test track at the former RAF base in Wildenrath, Germany.

Laptop ban

Monday, 17 August 2009

laptop_wars

21st (or maybe 22nd?) century railway sign

A warning sticker in the WARS restaurant wagon operating between Gdansk and Warsaw. A simple question – why? Please post your answers to the questionnaire in the ‘Comments’ field.

  • Computers make milk go sour. Have you tried sour coffee with cheese?
  • The train will use more electricity which will push up the price of tickets.
  • Laptops are old hat, cool people use smartphones.

The above is a BTWT translation of a Polish post found on Absurdy.net If you would like to take part in WARS’s own questionnaire as to whether laptops should be allowed in its restaurant cars, click here.

H.A.V. Bulleid obituary

Monday, 17 August 2009

See our sister blog – Tunnel Vision.

Uncertain future of museum exhibits

Thursday, 13 August 2009

muz_kol_sexshop

New banners adorn the side of the Railway Museum at the former Warszawa Glowna station. Until recently the ‘sex shop’ sign was more prominent than the Museum’s own signs. Photo BTWT.

While the exhibits of Poland’s first National Railway Museum perished during WWII, one could be excused for thinking that those in the custody of its post-war successor had a secure future. The new Muzeum Kolejnictwa was set up in 1972, in the former main line terminus of Warsawa Glowna, with a mission to teach future generations of Poles about the role played by the ‘iron road’ in the history of their country. Originally established under the auspices of PKP, the Polish state railway company, responsibility for the museum was transferred to the Ministry of Transport in 1995 and in 1999 it was transferred to the custody of the Mazowsze provincial government.

The new legal arrangements suited both parties. PKP got rid of a massive potential liability – some of the Museum’s 80 items of historic rolling stock are listed and there is a legal obligation on the owner of a listed monument to maintain it in good condition. At the same time, the local government of Mazowsze province acquired an asset – slap in the centre of the City – with enormous tourist potential. Or at least this is how it was meant to be. In practice things turned out rather different.

A short step to retirement

The museum became the repository of tired former PKP officials who looked forward to their retirement rather than to the future of their collection. The locomotives and rolling stock – stored in the open – began to deteriorate. Some, which had been sent to the so-called ‘skansen’ at Krzeszowice, were scrapped. Cab fittings and connecting rods vanished. Meanwhile the director of the museum, Janusz Sankowski, concentrated on building up a collection of scale models.

Storm clouds first gathered over the museum in 2003 when PKP entered into discussions with a developer. The covered ways from the station building to the former low-level platforms were demolished and all the rolling stock collection was dragged several hundred yards northwards to make room for the planned development. Mr Sankowski and the developers discussed co-existence. His collection of scale models might even become the centrepiece of the new development. A few locomotives could be left outside while the rest could be farmed out elsewhere or sent to a remote siding. So, when an opportunity arose to move the museum to covered accommodation in the historic Praga South locomotive sheds, Mr Sankowski did not feel it was worthwhile to pursue the matter.

The original development plans for Warszawa Glowna came to naught. PKP and the developers started a series of legal wrangles regarding the future of the site and the Museum stayed where it was. A new director, Ferdynand Ruszczyc, was appointed earlier this year. The Museum and its rolling stock received a much needed coat of paint. Special events were organised to promote the Museum and its attractions. The future of the Museum looked brighter than ever. Then the blow came!

A move to the East of the Vistula

PKP’s long drawn out court actions were finally resolved and the company felt free to resume its plans for the redevelopment of the Warszawa Glowna site. In April this year, PKP started putting pressure on the provincial governor’s office to relocate the Museum PKP to some sidings on the East side of the River Vistula. Ironically these are located close to the – now demolished – locomotive sheds at Praga South, but lack any office buildings for the Museum’s small items collection and their staff.

Adam Struzik, the provincial governor of Mazowsze province decided to tough it out. His thinking seems straightforward – his provincial government is funding the Railway Museum – an institution which benefits Polish State Railways. If PKP wants to relocate the Museum, they should fund the move and ensure that the new facilities are at least equivalent to the existing accommodation.

“only and exclusively, on a commercial basis”

PKP’s thinking was summarised by their press spokesperson, Michal Wrzosek. “Polish State Railways S.A. – the owner of the former Warsawa Glowna station site at ul. Towarowa – 1 is preparing to use this land for the purpose of development. Polish State Railways S.A. has allowed the Railway Museum to use this site on a free of charge license since 1996. PKP SA – in accordance with its strategy for its land holdings – is obliged to rent land at this location, only and exclusively, on a commercial basis.”

A new national museum?

In an ideal world, a new national railway museum would be established, with proper covered accommodation, workshops and facilities to service steam-hauled special trains. This is exactly the sort of project for which EU funding for the former communist countries was designed to assist. But instead PKP and the provincial governor’s office seem determined to tough it out. Who will blink first? This strategy might just lead to a successful resolution, but it is more likely that the locomotives and vintage rolling stock at Warszaw Glowna will end up like their brothers and sisters elsewhere – in some forgotten siding – mysteriously shedding pieces of metal year by year. After all, with the high price of scrap, you don’t have to work particularly hard to earn yourself the price of a bottle of Vodka.

Red tape strangling EU-funded projects

Monday, 10 August 2009

loluszki_EU_notice

Information board at Koluszki Station describing how the modernization of the Lodz Widzew – Skierniewice railway line was made possible thanks to EU funding

EU funding was supposed to help Poland converge towards a Western European style economy. But Poland’s Eastern European bureaucracy seems totally incapable of reaching out for the funds that are available. Last Thursday. Rzeczpospolita – Poland’s newspaper of record, published a story about an internal report produced by the Ministry of Regional Development. The Ministry, which oversees Poland’s EU funded programmes, had identified the Ministries of Science and Higher Education, Environment, and Education as all failing to achieve their half yearly targets for absorbing EU funds.

The worst culprit of all was the Ministry of Infrastructure, responsible for Poland’s roads and railways. Of the 19,000,000,000 euro EU funding allocated to the Ministry for the period 2007 – 2013 the Ministry has so far only processed 66,000,000 euros worth. It appears that PKP S.A. which is suffering a major cash flow crisis – will not receive any EU funding this year because of incorrectly filled in paperwork.

Part of the problem is the laid back management culture in PKP. Another reason is that, while the stipulations of the Brussels officials are quite demanding  regarding how the EU funding process is supposed to work, they are at least internally consistent. The same cannot be said regarding the Kafkaesque instructions that have been added by Poland’s own bureaucracy.

It needs someone with the requisite political clout to cut through the red tape or Poland’s creaking infrastructure will carry on creaking into the foreseeable future.

Dyspozytor

Warsaw Museum closure – PKP reply

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Pm3_Muzeum_Kolejnictwa

Pm3-5 (with Pm3-3 plate) streamlined pacific, built by Borsig 1940. Photo Hiuppo

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

A media storm blew up following Friday morning’s announcement by the Director of the Warsaw Railway Museum that PKP SA. have ordered the Museum to quit its Warszawa Glowna site by the end of the month. Stung by the negative publicity, PKP’s PR department started a damage limitation exercise and issued their own press release on Friday afternoon. It really does not need any further comment from ourselves!

Information on the site provided free of charge to the Railway Museum in Warsaw

Polish State Railways S.A. – the owner of the former Warsawa Glowna station site at ul. Towarowa – 1 is preparing to use this land for the purpose of railway investment. PKP SA has been taking court action against a number of bodies, who have been preventing the site from being exploited commercially. The claims of the third parties have now been disposed by court decisions favourable to PKP SA. This clears the way for the development of this part of Warsaw.

Polish State Railways S.A. has allowed the Railway Museum (an organisation funded by the local government of Mazowsze province) to use this site on a free of charge license since 1996. PKP SA – in accordance with its strategy for its land holdings – is obliged to rent land at this location, only and exclusively, on a commercial basis.

For these reasons PKP SA terminated the Railway Museum’s current license in July 2009. This does not preclude the Railway Museum from obtaining a lease of the property on a commercial basis until the the Museum has been transferred to another location.

The termination of the license and the need to transfer the Museum to another location was previously discussed with the bodies responsible for the Museum. In October 2008, PKP SA and the authorities of the provincial government (the Governor and a senior official) signed a memorandum in which it was specified that the Museum will be relocated from its current location to a site provided by PKP SA on Grodzienska street in Warsaw (near the junction of Grodzienska street and Radzyminska street) with an area of 1.8 hectares [4.45 acres ed].

Representatives of the local authority and the Railway Museum were again informed about the importance of relocating the museum at a meeting which took place on 16 April 2009 between representatives of PKP SA and the local government of Mazowsze province. On 25 June 2009, once again PKP SA informed the provincial authorities of the necessity to relocate the Museum to the site being made available by PKP SA.

Polish State Railways supports the Railway Museum in carrying out its functions.  This is reflected in the agreements that have been in place up to now between the two parties and the technical assistance PKP SA has provided to assist the running the Museum. The need to regulate the legal status of PKP’s real estate PKP SA and its use for development does not permit the free use of a plot of land of over 7 hectares [17.3 acres ed.] in the heart of Warsaw. PKP SA maintains regular contact with the Museum and the local government.

Don’t miss tomorrow’s exciting instalment – ‘Reading between the lines’.

Museum closure official

Friday, 7 August 2009

The following was posted today on the Warsaw Railway Museum website.

NOTICE

We regret to inform you that on 30 July 2009 Polish State Railways SA formally served a notice on the Museum terminating the Railway Museum’s lease of our buildings  at ul. Towarowej 1, and at the same time giving us notice to quit our headquarters not later than 31 August 2009.

The Railway Museum will be challenging this termination, as being in contravention of our lease, but the fact that it has been served by PKP SA may mean that August 2009 will be the last month in which we will be able to have our exhibits on public display, and that this unique place will permanently disappear from the map of Warsaw.

Unfortunately, despite earlier assurances, PKP SA has not provided a suitable new location. The siding proposed at Warsaw’s Grodno Street, is only a disused track, without any other facilities.

Moreover, because of the specific nature of our collection, especially the vintage rolling stock, the cost of its transportation to a new location would be enormous.

Thus we face the end of the Railway Museum in Warsaw, the only institution in Poland on this scale which collects, archives and make available to the general public the legacy of over 150 years of railway history on Polish territory.

Ferdynand B. Ruszczyc
Director of The Railway Museum in Warsaw

(translation by BTWT)

Warsaw Railway Museum to close!

Thursday, 6 August 2009

warsaw_museum

Storm clouds gather over Warsaw Railway Museum

News has just come in from a reliable source that the Director of The Warsaw Railway Museum Ferdinand Ruszczyc has received a letter from the Estates Department of PKP on 30 July. The letter terminates the Museum’s lease of the old Warszawa Glowna Station buildings and approach roads and requires the railway museum to vacate the premises by 30 August. We have not yet had the opportunity to speak to the museum authorities to obtain their confirmation of the situation. Watch this space.

Foresty railway in Czarna Bialostocka

Thursday, 6 August 2009

The former forestry line at Czarna Białostocka
Video kamil25101

At the end of WWII there were 37 narrow gauge forestry railways in Poland. Incredibly, during the 1950s some of these lines were still being expanded, and in some cases there were even proposals to take them under the wing of PKP and make them public railways.

Now only a handful are left. The most famous is the Bieszczady Railway whose preservation was helped by a vigorous campaign supported by the Polish media. Less well known, but definitively worth visiting, is the forestry railway in Hajnowka which boasts two WWI 0-8-0T locomotives typical of the German Feldbahn.

Two other forestry railways are the subject of rebuilding plans: the Pionki Forest Railway – where the former locomotive depot had been rebuilt from scratch – and the forestry line at Janow Lubelski – where a collection of rolling stock has been established.

Finally, and almost unknown outside Poland, is the former forestry line at Czarna Bialostocka. In October 1990 a group of railway enthusiasts from the Warsaw Railway technical college organised a special train over the line. This was the trip that motivated a group of enthusiasts under the leadership of Maciej Kozlowski to try to save the line.

By the time the preservationists obtained access to the line, half of the 40 km route had been lifted, all the rolling stock had been sold or scrapped and several kilometres of track from the surviving 20 km branch had been stolen. Bearing this in mind the achievements of a small but dedicated band of volunteers has been remarkable. Isn’t there anyone out there running a 600 mm railway in Western Europe who would like to twin their line with this most remarkable narrow gauge survivor?

More:

65 Anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

The Warsaw Uprising 1944 / Powstanie Warszawskie.
Video by Rogvist

At 17:00 on 1st August 1944 the Warsaw Uprising began. That evening the AK, the Polish Home Army, liberated Praga Railway Station and several other key objectives. With no outside assistance (while the Germans slaughtered the Varsovians, the Soviet army waited outside the capital and Stalin banned any allied flights from Soviet-controlled air space) the Home Army managed to hold out against the Germans until October 2.

After the war all mention of the Uprising was strictly taboo in communist-controlled Poland. A friend, who set up a committee to build a monument to the Uprising, was poisoned, his committee was dissolved and its funds were seized by the authorities.

Today it is possible to discuss the Uprising openly. Michael Dembinski’s posts on W-wa Jeziorski (see links below) are better than anything I could add. For anyone looking for in-depth coverage there is no better source than Norman Davies’s definitive study, Rising ’44.

Dyspozytor

    W-wa Jeziorki:

    Happy Birthday Pt47-65

    Wednesday, 5 August 2009

    Pt47-65

    Pt47-65 at Wolsztyn on a Leszno – Zbaszynek train, September 2000.
    Photo: Vincent Middlebrough

    (Click above to see this and many other Pt47 photographs on Railfaneurope.net)

    Pt47-65 celebrates its 60th birthday today. Sadly the locomotive is not in steam and Ol49-59 is working the two Wolsztyn – Poznan return workings.

    The Leszno – Zbaszynek services are no longer steam-hauled and there is a weight restriction that bans PT47s working over the viaduct at Lubon. Wait! I hear you cry, Wasn’t the viaduct at Lubon specially rebuilt to enable the Pt 47s to work the Wolsztyn – Poznan route? Well the viaduct was rebuilt, but it seems that the weight restriction is still in place.

    Meltdown

    Monday, 3 August 2009

    meltdown

    An iceberg melts off Ammassalik Island in Greenland in July 2007

    (Click to see the picture in its original context and read the article referred to in our post.)

    More than 2 trillion tons of land ice in Greenland, Antarctica and Alaska have melted between 2003 and 2008 according to NASA satellite data, so starts an article published at the end of last year by the China Daily. When the China Daily starts writing about global warming it is time to sit up and take notice. In 2008, China officially overtook the US as the world’s biggest CO2 emitter. However, recent research shows that about a third of all Chinese CO2 emissions are the result of producing goods for export. It seems that as the West abandoned its own manufacturing facilities it ‘exported’ much of its CO2 emissions to China. Here factories and power stations are less efficient and generate more CO2 than the Western industrial facilities they have replaced. But that is not all, once manufactured the Chinese goods have to be shipped to the US and Europe, and their transport generates still more CO2.

    Whatever your views on the causes of climate change, it is difficult to deny that traditional weather patterns have broken up. The weather is becoming both more unpredictable and more extreme. Yesterday, a brief but violent thunderstorm hit the city in Poland where I spend much of my time. A thunderbolt hit a nearby power line. My ancient i-Mac survived, but the ADSL modem / router which connects it to the outside world ended up looking like a fried egg. The moral of the story is that it is not sufficient to fit spike suppressor fitted  mains power extension sockets, it is important to route your phone line through a spike suppressor as well.

    Dyspozytor

    China’s CO2:

    Spikes and surges: