A return journey – part 10


by Robert Hall

The SKD when trains still ran to Wielichowo. Video by vicinalasvi.

At Poznan Glowny station, I found the same problem as recounted by Dyspozytor in his post, Customer Care Conundrum – the displayed timetables at the station did not seem to have heard of my train, supposedly scheduled to reach Stare Bojanowo at 15:42. Unlike Dyspozytor, I had the good fortune to have plenty of time at my disposal and I asked at a likely-looking Informacja window, where the chap on duty knew a little English, and was able to tell me the time and departure platform of my train. Stare Bojanowo was reached on time. I was met there by Dyspozytor and two of Smigiel line’s general manager’s daughters – one to take us around the railway; the other to drive the car. In fact the whole family looked after us splendidly throughout the whole action-packed 24 hours or so at Smigiel. The visit started with being taken round the overgrown and bordering-on-ruinous transporter wagon loading facility at Stare Bojanowo. I saw some forlorn-looking transporter trucks and learnt that they were last used in March this year. In view of later developments, the future of freight working on this line seems uncertain.

Dyspozytor was keen that I should meet up not only with the line’s management, but also with a representative of the line’s owner, Smigiel Town Council. A meeting with the mayor was duly arranged. Wth Dyspozytor acting as interpreter I tried to explain to the Mayor that a purely tourist operation is in many enthusiasts’ eyes, considerably less attractive than a real railway fulfilling a real passenger and / or freight commercial function. But the mayor was having none of it. His plan for the future of the line has already been covered on BTWT. The general impression that I received was that the best that can be hoped for, is for some of the line to survive as a purely tourist operation.

The dealings of Polish local government authorities nowadays, with narrow-gauge railways in their remit, seem on the whole to be characterised by a strong anti-railway mindset, and in that connection, mind-boggling spite and stupidity. It is to be hoped that such local authorities will eventually realise that a preserved narrow-gauge line is a wonderful tourist magnet and thus provides a big boost to the local economy and that, having done so, they will not actively seeking to thwart its doings and confiscate money from its coffers.

After the railcar trailer painting working party mentioned in the same BTWT post, I caught a mid-afternoon Wolsztyn Experience special run in one of the line’s Romanian-built diesel railcars. At Stary Bojanowo, I changed trains – I was bound for Poznan and an overnight run to the south-east of the country. At least I can say that I have twice done the 5 km Smigiel – Stare Bojanowo secion, that direction only, by MBxd2 : in 1993 and now in 2010. It would seem that Smigiel – Wielichowo will never be mine; but, as an old proverb tells us, You can’t win them all.

A local EMU took me to Poznan, from where I was to depart for the south-east, my target being there being the narrow-gauge Przeworsk Railway. I arrived at Poznan Glowny a little before departure of the 17:22 steam working to Wolsztyn – Pt47-65 on two single-decker coaches. Feeling that I have done justice to the Wolsztyn scene on previous trips to Poland, I had made no plans to look in there, on this tour. The 17:22’s departure was to be my only sight during the whole tour, of a steam loco in steam and in motion.


One Response to “A return journey – part 10”

  1. John Ball Says:

    Having just come back from the Harz narrow gauge in Germany, I was delighted to see that this series has resumed.

    It is sad though to see that the Smigiel line has such a bleak future; maybe the forthcoming temporary freight operation that I have previously read about will help to bridge the gap until something else turns up in the form of a better local understanding by local officialdom of the line’s value.

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