Wolsztyn – Poznan 2011 steam service in doubt

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Wolsztyn – Poznan daily scheduled steam train, April 2010.
Photo Marek Ciesielski.

The future of the Wielkopolska’s daily scheduled steam service was in some doubt after Christopher Kaleta, a member of the provincial council, told a press conference today that, because of the planned track renewals between Wolsztyn and Poznan next year, steam services will be suspended on this route.

According to Councillor Kaleta, alternative arrangements have been made. Steam trains will be running instead on all the 115 non-working days in 2011 on the route Wolsztyn – Leszno – Poznan and Gniezno and return. The schedule envisages the train leaving Wolsztyn at 06:00 and arriving at Gniezno at 11:30. The return journey would start at 15:15 and arrive at Wolsztyn some 5½ hours later.

A number of Steam train of Wielkopolska specials are also planned to run on weekends in June and July 2011. The trips will run over some 350 km and could include itinaries such as Wolsztyn – Leszno – Jarocin – Gniezno – Poznan – Leszno – Wolsztyn.

Councillor Kaleta emphasized that the total distance travelled by steam trains in the coming year will amount to more than 118 thousand kilometres. For every kilometre the Wielkopolska provincial government will provide a subsidy of 30 PLN, which adds up to more than 3.5 million zł.

The arrangements set out by Councillor Kaleta seem a far cry from the promise made by Deputy Governor, Wojciech Jankowiak, as recently as March this year. We do not want another museum. These are many of these already. Only in Wolsztyn is it still possible every day without any fuss to get in a train pulled by a steam locomotive. This is our great asset which we will safeguard at any price.

How short is a couple of months in politics!

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12 Responses to “Wolsztyn – Poznan 2011 steam service in doubt”

  1. Damian Pietrzak Says:

    I am not sure what the politicians are up to but I am think it’s going to be a mess again. On the other hand I always thought that current Wolsztyn timetable is very tourist unfriendly (although a minor improvement took place when the pm steam service was moved to a later working).

    Personally I think that this idea would not be so bad as long as the tourist steam trains were run in addition to a scheduled steam service (let’s say Mon-Fri Wolsztyn- Poznan (Grodzisk / Leszno / Zbaszynek during the track works) and the weekend additional tourist service – although taking staffing problems and the engine shortage into consideration that could be just a dream.

    Regards

    Damian

  2. warwickian Says:

    To me, this looks like a fairly good substitution, if the trains are daily. The route mileage from Wolsztyn to Gniezno via Leszno looks comparable to two Wolsztyn – Poznan workings, and with Gniezno having its own historical heart, may well draw more people to the services that were not drawn to them before.

    I don’t think it is any surprise that steam services will be suspended on the Wolsztyn – Poznan line whilst parts of the route are closed for track repairs. If steam was used on a partly open route, then it would have to have a considerable amount of tender first running, with the usual speed restrictions, as well as the lack of watering facilities. The diagram proposed would seem to offer a viable alternative maintaining daily steam haulage from Wolsztyn. Both Leszno and Gniezno have turntables that could be used to ensure chimney first running at all times.

  3. John Ball Says:

    I wonder if this isn’t going to be a long day out from Wolsztyn; starting out at 6 am, and not back till about 8.45 pm. I suspect it will be pretty well ecs working between Wolsztyn and Poznan to get the engine from the shed and back in the late evening. And it just won’t be quite the same as the present ‘commuter’ service.

    But much better than nothing! And it keeps steam alive while the track works are going on.

  4. Robert Hall Says:

    Coming in late here – but it’s still, just, the same month in which original posting made.

    It strikes me that the alternative arrangements described here, are not in accordance with the excellent American principle summarised as KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid). There may be 115 non-working days in a year; but they are interspersed with long working-days intervals. Assuming that the Wolsztyn Experience plan to continue to function in 2011: it would seem to me, that the envisaged arrangements would not permit what many Wolsztyn Experience customers prize, and pay to experience – footplating on standard-gauge genuine public-service steam trains, on most days of their week’s or fortnight’s stay. The arrangements envisaged would appear to give very meagre pickings to W.E. customers – some of whom (a friend of mine, who has done several W.E. weeks, and hopes to do more, is a case in point) would not be happy with the far-lesser prizes of days messing around on the narrow gauge, or with a TKt48 between Wroclaw and Jelcz.

    Instead of this weirdly recondite business of a non-working-days lengthy excursion from Wolsztyn to Gniezno and back – the majority of the run, “under the wires” on electric main lines – could things not be changed, for the year 2011, to having a couple of regular-service workings each way between Wolsztyn and Leszno, made steam, daily? (I know that nowadays, regular scheduled steam Wolsztyn – Zbaszynek is not possible.) Or are there practical reasons for which this seemingly simpler and more satisfactory solution, could not be?

  5. Joseph Monty Says:

    I’m sure that a suitable substitute run can be arranged for the steam if there is a will to do so. The important thing is to keep SOMETHING going on a scheduled run. Working the Poznan run around track crews and the inevitable speed restrictions is too dangerous to do with people doing the driving course. The run to Gniezno may also give a push to those who want to make the shops into a permanent museum.

    My biggest concern is having the steam engines to do this with. I was in Wolsztyn the week of June 1 only to witness multiple failures of the PM36 and PT47 engines. Three trains delayed for an hour or more by on the road failures. Both OL’s were down indefinitely. Serious money needs to be put into these engines quickly or the rate of engine failures could be what dooms regular steam passenger service. Transition of the operation to the regional authority can’t happen soon enough.

  6. John Says:

    I’m still not sure what PKP does with the 3.5 mln zl grant from the council each year…

    There’s minimal maintenance carried out on the loco’s and stock, the staff obviously aren’t getting it, and I doubt the shed electric bill is that high.

    There are also some payments to PKP from WE as well…

    Someone’s getting fat and happy here.

  7. Chris Males Says:

    Very quiet since May but: I have done the footplate experience twice and am worried about how things are going from every aspect. I would like to echo Robert’s suggestion that the simplest solution would be a couple of round trips to Leszno. It would be reasonable for the engines and local crews and surely enough entertainment for footplate tourists. How can we convince the Polish authorities involved what a unique and priceless asset they have? I want to come back. I hope that will be possible

  8. robert sayers Says:

    The proposal is half baked as the number of days available for driving is reduced. I like to spend weeks there, without the steam locomotives the are many places in Poland with superior scenery and cheaper accommodation.

    The use of an “elephant coach” spoils the look of the train however if a glass/perspex window could be fitted up stairs, at the ends of the coach, increased photographic opportunities would present themselves.

    The local library gives access to the internet.

    The hotel over the crossing has bicycles for use. Excellent for touring the district.

  9. Thomas Dutton Says:

    OK guys, I hope the 2011 track work is all done …it’s now August 2012, and next month (September) I will arrive in Poznan looking for a steam train… what are my chances? Oh, the steam train I’m looking for is one that I can ride, to anywhere close by.

  10. Ed Beale Says:

    I’m not a Wolsztyn expert and would welcome confirmation from someone more knowledgeable than me, but I think you should find steam trains on the Wolsztyn – Poznan line every* day in September (* unless there is a steam special running and the loco is needed somewhere else): Wolsztyn 05:26 – Poznan 07:21, Poznan 09:15 – Wolsztyn 11:07, Wolsztyn 13:00 – Poznan 14:59, Poznan 17:20 – Wolsztyn 19:06. For a shorter trip you could return on a railbus.

  11. John Savery Says:

    In general, the above is correct. There are steam specials planned on 1 September (organised by TPWP, to Gdynia) and 8 September (organised by TurKol) to Zielona Gora. I would suspect that there will be no steam in Wolsztyn on either of those days, and most likely the following day, due to the loco and crews being required for the specials. Due to the length of the special, it’s normal for multiple crews to be used.

    The best way of checking the current situation is on Wojtek Lis’s website http://www.parowozy.com.pl It’s in Polish, however google translate or google chrome will translate it.

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