Px48-1752. Photo Elk District Council archive.
The Elk narrow gauge railway has been unfairly neglected by BTWT, particularly as the line can boast 47.6 km of route and a recently overhauled Px48 in running order! The line was originally built as a metre gauge railway between 1910 and 1918, and the first 24.8 km section, from Elk to Borzymy, together with a 9.7 km branch to Zawady-Tworki, was opened in October 1913; the final 13.2 km from Borzymy to Turowo was opened in 1915. WW I was going on at the time and the repair of war damage and restoration of regular passenger services took place in October 1918. By 1939, the line could boast 5 steam locomotives, 9 passenger coaches two post office coaches and 37 goods wagons.
During WW II the line suffered greatly during the attack by Soviet forces against Poland’s eastern borders. In 1951, the line was rebuilt to the 750 mm gauge. The line was steam worked until 1968 when its motive power was augmented by two Lyd-1 0-6-0 diesel locomotives. Steam continued in use, however, and the line continued in operation until PKP liquidated all its surviving narrow gauge railways in 2001. A major campaign to save the line was launched by two brothers, Miroslaw and Adam Sawczynski. In 2002, the first train ran on the line under the auspices of the Elk Town Council who concluded an agreement with PKP to take over the line and also obtained a licence from PKP to operate the line pending the completion of the legal formalities.
The line is operated by MOSiR, the Town’s Sport and Recreation Department. Now the Town Council has secured a 695 632 PLN grant from EU Regional Development Funds towards the cost of essential repairs. The value of the whole project is 1 070 204 PLN with Town Council making a 35% own funds contribution worth 374,572 PLN. The project scope includes repairs to a workshop building and the locomotive shed and main workshop, demolition of buildings surplus to requirements, completion of a security fence and landscaping in the station area.
Elk Town Council deserves congratulations for investing in the future of its railway. Smigiel Railway fans will grind their teeth in frustration at the lack of a similar engagement from Smigiel Town Council!