Death by a thousand cuts

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Lubin Station. Compare with the picture below and note ‘improvements’ carried out by PKP architects in the 1970s. Photo Lubin Town website.

(Click image to see picture on the Portal Miasta Lubina website.)

Lubin Gorniczy is still on the Polish railway network, but only just. The PKP interactive timetable shows that of the three Przewozy Regionalne ‘trains’ that serve the line betweeen Legnica and Glogow only one is a train, the other two are buses. But even the one surviving train shown by the timetable may be a ‘ghost train’. According to the Lubin town website the last train from Lubin to Wroclaw left Lubin station on the 31 August.

Luben Station before WW II. Photo Lueben-Damals archive.)

(Click image to see a selection of historic pictures of Lubin station on the http://www.lueben-damals.de website.)

At a recent conference in Warsaw Juliusz Engelhardt, the Under Secretary of State in the Ministry of Infrastructure responsible for rail, announced that funding had only been agreed to refurbish 3,600 km of Poland’s railway network while 12,000 km urgently needed repairs. As track deteriorates line speeds are cut… . When trains take significantly longer than road transport to reach their destination, passengers switch to buses and cars in droves.

Yet Lubin is not a poor town. The town is situated on one of the richest copper veins in Europe and the Town Council enjoys a healthy income. Indeed, until recently, the Council planned to renovate the station building and develop a combined rail and bus facility, complete with a restaurant, lounge, shops and toilets on the site. Sadly the plans came to naught and the abandoned and devastated station looks set for demolition.

Lubin Gorniczy and the Legnica – Glogow line. Map RailMap.

(Click on map to go to the RailMap website.)

Poland’s secondary lines are dying. Without any fanfare such as heralded the Beecing cuts on the UK, a station is closed here, a passenger service is withdrawn there. Compared to the government support enjoyed by railways in neighbouring countries. Poland’s railways are grossly underfunded. They have to bear the costs of a very expensive organisational model – PKP fragmented into over a hundred separate companies. They are charged punitive taxes in respect of their stations and workshops. They are responsible to politicians to prefer to finance their own local pork barrel schemes rather than ensure the health of the network as a whole. Unless there is a major policy shift at the very top of the Polish government, the prognosis for Poland’s railways is very grim.

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2 Responses to “Death by a thousand cuts”

  1. John Says:

    The ghastly loss of services is an experience of mine as a visitor to Poland over many years. Getting around now is such a dispiriting experience that it has put me off taking holidays in Poland. Who is giving such dreadful transport advice? Do they not know about increasing competition for oil with inevitable price rises ahead? Have they not heard of Climate Change? Why discourage tourism?

  2. Trevor Says:

    Another question is – why would anyone in their right mind wish to trade the relative freedom of choice of where and when you go in a car with putting oneself at the mercy of a hierarchy that plainly treats one as rubbish? What’s more, since one might have to work in an organization with traditional management values all week, why would one not want to get in a car, put one’s foot down and effing disappear over the horizon?

    Yes, I know the arguments for the environment and where funding should go – but when you are convinced by the system that you can’t fight the system because you will lose your job itd, why should one care about tourism or anything else that is going to put money or power in someone else’s pocket? And that is the saddest thing, that view on the world, which I see here every day, the justification for non-action with little sign of change in the future.

    On another note, other than the poor grade materials used on the station ‘upgrade’ and the way it has been left to deteriorate, I much prefer the design from the 70s. The older version – well, it’s just yet another chocolate box, cutesy, over-romanticised image. Give me the strong lines and bold statements. :)

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