The fire goes out in the last Tr5 in the World

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2-8-0 Tr5-65 simmers quietly in Wolsztyn shed on the night of 4/5 December prior to its last run in service. Photo ©Tomasz Domzalski.

(Click on the picture to see some more of Tomasz Domazalski’s photos of Tr5-65’s last night in steam.)

Bearing in mind that nearly 700 locomotives of this class were constructed in Germany and that they worked in Austria, East and West Germany as well as Poland it is strange turn of events that the last example of this class found itself last week completing its last service run from Wolsztyn to Sieniawa Lubuska via Zbaszynek and Toporow.

Tr5-65 started life in 1921 as Prussian State Railways 5312, an 0-8-0 goods engine, a member of the G8-1 class. It was built at the Berlin-Drewitz works of Orenstein & Koppel and initially based in the Stettin (Szczecin) division. In all some 5,000 G8-1s were built. They were designed by Robert Hermann Garbe, Head of the Construction of Superheated Steam Locomotives and Tenders at the Prussian Railway Central Office in Berlin, as a more powerful development of the Prussian G8 class. In this guise they had two main drawbacks, a maximum speed of only 55 km/h which made their use impractical on passenger services and an axle load of 17.5 tonnes which prevented their use on many lightly laid branch lines.

Between 1934 and 1941 the Deutsche Reichsbahn rebuilt a total of 691 former G8-1s as 2-8-0s. The boiler was raised and extended forwards, the front of the frames was extended and fitted with a Bissel pony truck. The original cylinders and motion were retained, the resulting offset between the centre of the cylinders and the new position of the chimney giving the locomotives a somewhat ungainly appearance when viewed from the side. The result was the Deutsche Reichsbahn Class 56 steam locomotive. The pony truck make the Class 56s stable at 70 km/h and enabled them to be used on passenger workings. Their 16.2 tonne maximum axleload, made possible by sharing the weight of the engine across the 5th axle, allowed the engines to be used on a greater number of branch lines. Tr5-65, then Deutsche Reichsbahn 55 5607, emerged in its new guise as Deutsche Reichsbahn 56 511, after being rebuilt in Schneidemühl (Pila) in 1938.

During WWII the engines were dispersed over a large part of Europe; many of the engines being assigned to the Eastern Front and many of these undoubtedly perished. After the War, most of their duties were taken over by the ubiquitous Deutsche Reichsbahn Class 52 ‘Kriegsloks’ 2-10-0s, which had a 15.0 tonne maximum axleload; and their demise was swift. The fate of the surviving engines in the Soviet Union is undocumented. The 5 engines that were taken over by Austrian Railways were all withdrawn by 1956. The Deutsche Bundesbahn took over 368 engines and withdrew them all by 1968. The East German Deutsche Reichsbahn kept last examples running upto 1969. PKP took over 66 locomotives giving them the classification Tr5. After initially working all over Poland they were concentrated in the Wroclaw and Katowice areas being allocated until the end of their working lives to the sheds at Legnica, Opole, Rybnik and Tarnowskie Gory. A few soldiered on into the early 1970s being employed on shunting duties.

The very last example was dumped at Jaworzyna Slask in 1972 to wait for better times. 22 years later it was chosen to be one of the engines that was take part in celebrations commemorating the 150th anniversary of railways in the territory of Poland that were to take place in 1975. Its restoration to working order was carried out in the rolling stock workshops at Pila.

In spite of undergoing an intermediate overhaul in Gniezno in 2004, and a heavy overhaul at the same works in 2007, Tr5-65 has a worn out boiler and its ticket expired on 5 December this year. That day it hauled a farewell special organised by the ‘Friends of Wolsztyn Steam Depot’ which ran from from Wolsztyn to Sieniawa Lubuska. So ends the latest chapter of Tr5-65’s history. It joins a long line of Wolsztyn engines waiting for better times: Ol49-111, Pm36-2, Pt47-112, Ol49-23, Ol49-69, Ok1-359, Ok22-31 all of which were in working order only a few years ago.

Sources (text in Polish) and photos:

Kraina Zywych Maszyn – Tr5
Wciaz pod para – Tr5-65
Parowozy z Wolsztyna – Parowoz Tr5-65

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3 Responses to “The fire goes out in the last Tr5 in the World”

  1. Robert Hall Says:

    Going off at a bit of a non-Wolsztyn tangent: this section Toporow – Sieniawa Lubuska, would seem to be one of Poland’s “lines which refuse to die”. Roughly the western third of the former branch Toporow – Miedzyrzecz. That branch lost its passenger service in the late 1980s; the Toporow – S.L. section, at least, was retained for freight, to serve the brown coal (lignite) mines around S.L. – for a few years, featured impressive steam action on the brown-coal traffic. And Toporow – S.L. briefly got back a passenger service (of a sort) during the short and ludicrous episode in 1993 / 4, of the “Lubusz Regional Railways” taking over / reinstating passenger workings on various branches in the area, using ex-Danish “Lyntog” express DMU sets.

    The S.L. mines ceased production in 2002, presumably meaning line from there to Toporow falling into disuse; but the track stayed down, and about two years ago, mining recommenced; and so did the use of this section by freight trains.

  2. Michael Dembinski Says:

    Lovely photo. Elegaic quality, appropriate to mark the passing of an era. I hope that Tr5-65 may find a saviour who’d find the money to restore the boiler and have the engine back in steam once again.

  3. Gavin Whitelaw Says:

    Tr5-65 has had its boiler ticket extended to June 2010!

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