Krosniewice, the beginning of a new beginning?

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A busy day at Krosniewice in PKP days, October 1996. Romanian Railcar (left) for Ostrowy and DIY Polish railcar (middle) for Cetty.
Photo © Andrew Goodwin.

(Click on image to go to the Krosniewice section of the Polish Narrow Gauge Railways website by Andrew Goodwin, Stephen Goodwin and Dave Meller. This shows many Polish narrow gauge lines in the period before PKP abandoned its narrow gauge operations.)

There was much celebration at BTWT headquarters yesterday and our emergency ration of Zubrowka was raided when the news was confirmed by two reliable sources that the Lodz provincial government is taking over the Krosniewice Railway from PKP. This remarkable turn of events will scupper the plans of Krosniewice Mayor, Barbara Herman, who wanted to divide the railway salami fashion among all the local authorities through which the railway ran.

So far, the Lodz provincial government hsa shown remarkably little interest in its railway heritage and the railway enthusiaststo whom I broke the news could not at first believe it!. There are several unsung heroes in the battles for the future of the Krosniewice Railway and it is appropriate to mention some of those to whom credit is due. First of all, Wojciech Szegendowski, the Conservator of Heritage for Lodz province, who stood up to pressure from Mrs Herman to remove heritage listing status from much of the track and buildings at Krosniewice. Secondly, Pawel Papierz and the members of the SKOKW railway society who lobbied hard for the future of the railway. Thirdly, David Morgan, the President of Fedecrail who met with Polish ministers in 2008 to emphasise the importance of the Krosniewice Railway to the international heritage railway community, and last all those BTWT readers who supported our letter writing campaign to the Mrs Herman with copies to the Ministries of Infrastructure and Culture!

However, it is much to early to relax. One swallow does not a summer make, nor one fine day; similarly one day or brief time of happiness does not make a person entirely happy, as Aristotle used to point out. The provincial government could take over the railway, secure the future of the historic buildings, restore a short museum line, and convert the rest of the railway into a long-distance railway or cycle track! I won’t be happy until the provincial government has agreed a business plan for the revival of the railway. So now dear reader, it is time to write the most important letter of all. Here is one way you could approach the task. (Please do not use this exact text, but express these points, plus any others you feel it may be appropriate to add, in your own words. If you have already written to Mrs Herman and received no reply, it would probably be a good idea to also make this point and also to enclose a copy of that letter.)

Dear Mr Fisiak,

I am a British national who regularly comes to Poland to learn about your country’s history and to travel on your unique heritage railways. I would like to congratulate you on your decision to end the uncertainty regarding the future of the Krosniewice Railway by taking over the track from PKP. The Kujawy Railways – of which the Krosniewice Railway is a part – are an absolutely unique part of Poland’s railway history and have an enormous future potential as a tourist attraction.

I hope very much that it will be possible for the Krosniewice Railway to become a working railway – there are many preserved tourists lines in Europe – what makes Poland special, and draws railway enthusiasts from all over the world, is the opportunity to see vintage railway machinery performing real work.

Yours sincerely

Please send the letter to the Chief Executive of the Lodz provincial government:

Wlodzimierz Fisiak
Marszalek wojewodztwa lodzkiego
Urzad Marszalkowski w Lodzi
al. Pilsudskiego 8
90-051 Lodz
P O L A N D

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4 Responses to “Krosniewice, the beginning of a new beginning?”

  1. Geoff Jenkins Says:

    This sounds like good news. Will the Lodz provincial government take over the entire Krosniewice Railway from PKP or just the part that lies within the region? Even if it takes over the northern part of the railway up to Brzesc Kujawski I suspect that the emphasis will be on the line between Krosniewice, Leczyca and Ozorkow.

    With the closure of Cukrownia Brzesc Kujawski and the loss of the only freight customer of any significance the prospects for freight do not look good. In the last months of SKPL freight operation the state of the track to Brzesc was pretty dire and the number of damaged standard gauge PKP vans must have been starting to cause a problem. Even if a new freight flow was to materialise I don’t think the track and the transporter wagons could do the job unless a fair amount of time and money was injected into the railway. Passenger services under SKPL were far less important than the freight operation and latterly they were being cancelled, often without warning, if they got in the way of the freight business. Is it realistic to expect passengers to come back after such a long break and given the previous poor level of service? What is going to be left to operate passenger services if it’s true that the Polish railcar has been sold? Is there only one Romanian railcar left that is anywhere near operational?

    My view is that the only realistic way forward is going to be on a preserved railway basis. Lodz is not too far south of Ozorkow and could provide a high proportion of the people looking for a reasonably priced tourist experience. It was interesting to note that the banner on the special trains that ran between Krosniewice, Leczyca and Ozorkow on 20 September 2008 carried the wording, “Ozorkowsko – Leczycko – Krosniewicka Kolej Waskotorowa”. It looks as though, even then, there was a focus on the tourist potential of the southern end of the line. This may have paid off if the Lodz provincial government is serious about taking over the line.

    • dyspozytor Says:

      The Lodz provincial government is only looking to take over that section of the Kujawy Railway that had been in the ‘custody’ of Madame Mayor. I.e. the Eastern section of the Kujawy system.

      There is a prospective customer interested in carrying stone from the standard gauge interchange in Ostrowy to Krosniewice.

  2. Geoff Jenkins Says:

    Moving stone from Ostrowy to Krosniewice would be something but the distance can only be 8 or 9 kilometres or so. However, the operator would need competent staff capable of dealing with the complexities of transporter wagon operation. Would the tonnages involved be sufficient to employ a nucleus of full time staff to run the railway? From what I recall SKPL was talking about the prospect of stone traffic some years ago. Some was shipped into Krosniewice for a short while in connection with a road scheme but it did not last for long. If this traffic ever comes about, is it likely that we are going to see SKPL back at Krosniewice ?

    • dyspozytor Says:

      That’s why the stone contract would be profitable. PKP Cargo pays the narrow gauge operator a fixed % of its own tariff irrespective of the actual distance carried by the narrow gauge operator.

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