10,000 million zloty down the drain?

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Lodz Fabryczna as enlarged by PKP after WW I.

The Koluszki – Lodz railway line – a branch of the Warsaw – Vienna Railway – was opened on 18 November 1865 for the carriage of goods. Passenger services were inaugurated on 1 June 1866. Initially, the railway reached further west than at present; a temporary station was built at the location now occupied by the Lodzki Dom Kultury (Lodz Arts Centre). In 1868, the current Lodz Fabryczna station was built at the initiative of Lodz industrialist and philanthropist, Karol Scheibler. It was designed by Adolf Schimmelpfennig. The station was built in a Baroque-baronial style and when after WWI the newly formed PKP came to enlarge the station, the new extensions were carefully designed to complement the existing building. The extended station survived WW II and also was left unscathed by post-was PKP’s mania for demolishing all buildings of any architectural merit and replacing them with modernist non-entities.

So what are PKP and the City of Lodz planning for the future of Karol Scheibler’s station? Scheibler did after all establish Lodz as a major centre of Europe’s textile industry and his factories and railway lines established the shape of the modern city. Maybe they will give the historic building a light skin of glass like the Gare de Strasbourg in France? Not a bit of it! The plan is to demolish Scheibler’s building and replace it with an underground station at a cost of some 10,000 million PLN.

The new Lodz Centralna as envisaged by PKP

Juliusz Engelhardt, the Undersecretary of State at the Ministry of Infrastructure responsible for rail, has recently said that only 22 of Poland’s 1,000 top stations come up to contemporary requirements. Rafal Szafranski, the chairman of PKP PLK (the Polish State Railways infrastructure company) has said that some 10,000 route kilometres of Poland’s railways face the axe. In such circumstances sending 10,000 million putting Lodz Fabryczna underground is an act of wanton folly. And the reason for this madness? To turn make Lodz a ‘City of Culture’. Poor Karol Scheibler must be turning in his mausoleum.

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2 Responses to “10,000 million zloty down the drain?”

  1. Trevor Says:

    I am not quite sure what is bad here? If they keep the station then they maintain a stagnating city which would have Karol turning – or they demolish the building to make way for a city of culture and still he would be turning.

    I don’t think Karol would have hung onto an outmoded transport system infrastructure, he would have built anew, invested in what his city needed, rather than making his city a museum for the sake of the past. Imho.

    ;)

  2. M.A. Wesołowski Says:

    I think you have missed the whole idea of refurbishment in Lodz; the problem is that this big city never had a railway which directly connected both its ends. This causes a lot of problem in commuting in city which is proposed to be one of main stations in the future (if ever) on the first speed line in Poland. As you know high speed lines can not have very sharp curves, so the plan is to put station Fabryczna underground and give the line a proper profile.

    I’m not enthusiastic about building new and destroying the old but if this project will boost the economy of the city a little, and Poland will keep its small regional lines to feed the high-speed line, it will work.

    Others think PKP is acting carelessly by demolishing its past by rebuilding old stationa as supermarkets or just leaving them to decay. I like history and think that if the PKP board could ask for grant from EU to refurbishment of Lodz Fabryczna building – the building itself could survive and would be good asset to the property portfolio of PKP, but if the PKP main board doesn’t like history… You can finish this sentence yourself :(

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