Archive for November, 2010

Smigiel Railway endgame…

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

…the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Smigiel station during the Smigiel Railway’s 110th anniversary celebrations on 19 September 2010. Will this be the last such event? Photo Marek Ciesielski.

SKPL’s custodianship of the Smigiel Railway is reaching its endgame. Smigiel Town Council has just informed the short-line railway operator as to how it will be assigning this year’s 100,000 PLN grant from the Wielkopolska Provincial government: 20,000 PLN will cover the Council’s expenditure on the 110th anniversary celebrations; 32,000 will be assigned to the Town Council in lieu of local taxes; 48,000 will go towards SKPL’s operating expenses. The result will be an operating deficit of some 40,000 PLN.

An earlier report on BTWT referred to the possibility of SKPL recouping its losses season from a lucrative roadstone contract. It now seems likely that due to the world financial situation the Polish government will be trimming back its road-building plans for 2011 and that the contract will not be finalised. In the circumstances we expect that SKPL will shortly be informing Smigiel Council that they cannot operate the railway at a loss and will be withdrawing from their operating agreement.

Karsnice, the forgotten skansen awakes

Monday, 29 November 2010

SM41-175, Bo ‘Bo’ Ganz-Mavag diesel electric before repainting. Photo ©Robert Dylewski.

Karsnice – the forgotten skansen – slowly awakes. Few English gricers make it to Karsnice, but if you like big engines it is still one of the most interesting PKP ‘skansens’. The collection of historic rolling stock at Karsnice was the personal initiative of the Karsnice Railway Works foreman, Marian Fiolek. He set himself the task of collecting one engine of every class that ever worked the Gynia – Katowice ‘trunk coal line’ which is served by the works.

SM41-175, cosmetic restoration complete. Photo ©Robert Dylewski.

In time he added other exotica to his collection – an ex USA army crane, a portable steam engine, the original coaches from the Gubalowka funicular railway in Zakopane, and a model railway. In 1993, the Karsnice Works celebrated their 60th anniversary and the skansen received its gala opening.

Ty43-1 under treatment. In Poland restoration starts with the tender. Photo ©Robert Dylewski.

Marian Fiolek had hoped that the town of Zdunska Wola would take over the ‘skansen’ and that the Karsnice railwayman’s association would take on responsibility for looking after the rolling stock. But he was unable to personally guide his plans to fruition. He was still one locomotive short from completing his collection when he received compulsory early retirement. The then by now strapped-for-cash PKP began looking for ways of turning the collection into money. One locomotive was sold to the Lodz City Council for a Holocaust memorial, three more locos were sold to the PSMK for transfer to Skierniewice.

Ty42-9’s tender in primer. Photo ©Robert Dylewski.

Zdunska Wola Town Council made overtures to PKP about taking over the collection and rolling stock only to be told that they could have the skansen on condition that they bought the collection at the market rate! At this stage, some four or five years, ago I became involved… a number of influential friends made representations at the highest level. Suddenly the log jam was cleared and the transfer of the skansen and its remaining rolling stock to the care of the town was approved by the Minister.

Ty45-39’s tender awaits its topcoat, the rest of the loco awaits the ‘full treatment’. Photo ©Robert Dylewski.

Sadly the amount of PKP real estate transferred under the deal is tiny. The ex Gubalowka funicular cars sit on land which still belongs to PKP. The ancient wooden bodied four wheeler carriages have been taken out of their shed (partially shown in the photo of Ty45-39’s tender) where they were kept secure for 20 years and now languish in the open. As soon as the skansen’s transfer to Zdunska Wola was finalised the Town Council submitted an application for an EU assisted project to cosmetically restore the entire collection. Their application rejected because some of the rolling stock was the property of the Railway Museum in Warsaw and proper agreements for their custody in Karsnice were not in place! Undeterred the Council recently announced a tender for the cosmetic restoration of three steam engines and one diesel locomotive. The tender was won by Przemyslaw Krol’s company, Rem-Team. Although work has now ceased for the winter (A fierce snowstorm has hit central Poland.) a vigorous start has been made, as Robert Dylewski’s photos show.


Gniezno roundhouse, PKP reply – part 2

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

One of the visualisations for the future development of the Gniezno depot site prepared by the Poznan branch of the Polish Town Planners Association. Stripped of their historic context the 19th century buildings lose their meaning. PKP archive.

(Click image to expand.)

Pawel Olczyk’s letter to Robert Hall continued from part 1

Such an analysis was also carried out with respect to the real estate adjacent to Gniezno station including inter alia the area of the former locomotive depot, the subject of your concern.

As a consequence of this, the current plans of PKP SA take into account the above principles regarding the management of real estate, according to which this real estate could be disposed of by means a sale by tender; always taking into account the possibility of a disposal taking place without a tender to a local authority or the state treasury; although such a disposal would be conditional on receiving the assent of the Minister for responsible for transport matters.

As part of the process of preparing this real estate for disposal, a conceptual plan was prepared by the Poznan branch of the Polish Town Planners Association. This was preceded by a careful study of the relevant strategic planning documents for this land, whereby:

  • a study, indicating the dependencies and directions relating to the spatial development of Gniezno, zones the land in question as an industrial area which could be developed for large scale retail use or other service industries;
  • a development study for the City of Gniezno, identifies as one of its key priorities, the development of enterprise and the need to attract new investment;
  • a strategy for the development of Wielkopolska province, describing a vision for the development of this region, indicates that the Wielkopolska should be an integrated and competitive region.

In accordance with this concept, the area of the former locomotive depot was zoned for multiple retail and service industry use. The concept involved the creation of a retail-cultural gallery with a wide range of functions: retail, recreation, sports, office, cultural-theatre, cinema, exhibition space and gastronomic.

The 19th century locomotive depot, which was recently added to the list of historic buildings, would have a chance to combine commercial and cultural uses in a refined industrial interior. New buildings in the shape of cylinders would form atria to the roundhouses and maintain a height sympathetic to existing buildings (Please see visualisation.) No changes to the internal structure of the building is anticipated. There is an assumption that a public space would be created dedicated to the culture of steam and electricity. There would be the possibility of displaying steam locomotives, for example.

The revenue stream from commercial activities on the site would provide an opportunity to preserve and maintain the historic aspects of these buildings. However, the way the space would be utilised according to this concept is not yet finalised.

In matters concerning the development of its real estate within Gniezno, PKP SA is cooperating on the basis of a tripartite agreement which was reached in November 2009 between PKP SA, PKP PLK and the City of Gniezno. The subject of the agreement is the stipulation of the general principles to be adopted in implementing development projects in Gniezno. Accordingly it is planned to breakdown the development tasks into concrete actions with specified targets and to identify the legal and the necessary legal milestones of the anticipated works as well as sources of finance.

The area of the former locomotive depot was recognised as particularly important for the purposes of changing its existing role on account of the planning policies and the investment needs of the City and PKP SA.

Discussions are also taking place in other fora regarding the development of this area.

Above all, PKP is concerned to achieve the rational development of railway real estate taking into account the economic needs of the company. Hence great care is taken with regard to the choice of future investors. In the case of real estate which has a heritage value, there is also an additional obligation the – the manner of its preservation must conform to the requirements of the Heritage Conservator.

The conclusions which can be made today on the basis of the operation of similar buildings outside the structures of PKP differ. See the following examples:

  • Skierniewice Roundhouse, which comprises the first and largest, entirely private, collection in Poland of historic rolling stock owned by the Polish Railway Enthusiasts Association (PSMK) – one of the oldest and the largest organisation grouping Polish railway enthusiasts in the country. The PSMK collection, gathered within the walls of the roundhouse contains over 100 items of rolling stock represents a cross-section of European railway rolling stock construction (steam engines, diesel engines and passenger and freight rolling stock) from the second half of the 19th century the first half of the 20th century. Only part of the rolling stock collection is in operational condition; the majority of items still await their restoration.The title to the real estate within whose area the roundhouse is located was transferred to the town of Skierniewice on a commercial basis during the period when PKP was still a state enterprise, in 1998, in exchange for tax liabilities. Up to the year 2005 was only possible to visit the roundhouse by earlier arrangement, only then was the decision made to provide access on a regular basis to tourists.
  • The Slask Museum of Industry and Railways in Jaworzyna Slaska, which is located on the 49th kilometre on the railway line from Wroclaw to Swiebodic. In 1843, Königszelt railway station was established here. Several decades later at the end of the 19th century a locomotive depot was established to serve the developing junction; a second was built in the 20th century.The title to this real estate was transferred by PKP to Jaworzyna Slaska municipal council on a non-commercial basis. The current museum was established on the basis of an existing disused ‘skansen’. The municipality and sponsors take care to maintain its attractiveness by acquiring further exhibits.Several attractions await visitors from the age of steam including the beautiful largest surviving roundhouse in Dolny Slask province. Inside is a unique rolling stock collection, currently undergoing repair and renovation, displayed on some 1.5 km of railway track. The collection spans the period from 1890 to 1970 and contains over 50 locomotives (built in Poland, Germany, Austria, England and the USA) and 50 wagons and coaches as well as water cranes and a snowplough. Visitors can enjoy a run on a hand powered trolley, look at the collection of old railway documents and souvenirs and may spend the night in the sleeping coach and directors saloon that was once used by the PKP board. Future plans include restoring a steam locomotive and a rake of historic coaches which could operate as a vintage train on the railway lines in Dolny Slask province.

As can be seen from the above examples, if the local authority decides that it would be appropriate to take over this real estate from PKP SA (irrespective of the way in which this might take place) it will be important that the resources and financial means are in place to take over the roundhouse and operate it as a museum or skansen.

Should such a proposal be submitted to PKP SA it will be carefully analysed and decided upon by the main board.

Pawel Olczyk

Main board member responsible for real estate and property

Gniezno roundhouse PKP reply – part 1

Monday, 22 November 2010

BTWT guest writer Robert Hall responded to our August campaign regarding the future of Gniezno’s historic locomotive depot. Now he has received a detailed reply (5 pages in Polish!) from PKP main board member Pawel Olczyk regarding PKP property disposal policy – and developments to date – as they affect the future of Gniezno roundhouse. Because of the length of the letter, we are translating and publishing it in two instalments. The first part of the letter dwells at length on PKPs financial problems and casts a pessimistic tone, while the second…

[If you want to see whether the second part of the letter offers any hope for the preservation of the roundhouse as a railway museum, you will have to log-on to BTWT tomorrow! D.]

In reply to your letter expressing your concern that the hundred-year-old buildings of Gniezno locomotive depot should be conserved for future generations, I would like to take this opportunity to explain the current PKP SA position and the actions taken so far regarding the matter.

Your letter confirms your interest in Poland, and specifically its railway heritage, so I am sure that the general situation regarding Polish railways will be familiar to you. Since the end of the 1980s, the country has been undergoing a social and economic transformation and this, taken in conjunction with the rapid changes in the world’s economy, has demanded that the country’s railways also undergo an appropriate transformation.

Under the aegis of a special Act of Parliament regarding the Commercialisation, Restructuring and Privatisation of the State Enterprise, Polish State Railways, the state enterprise Polish State Railways (PKP) has been commercialised and transformed into a joint stock company, PKP SA.

The next step that took place was the creation of a number of subsidiary companies. Utilising the appropriate real estate and human resources of PKP SA a number of companies were created: operating companies; a company to manage the railway infrastructure, and companies providing support services to the latter, as well as other companies whose activities are not connected with railway transport.

A historical debt of several billions dating back to the times when PKP was a state enterprise was retained on the books of PKP SA and the management and repayment of this debt remained the responsibility of the company. PKP SA also retained responsibility for companies controlling real estate and human assets that were surplus to its requirements.

As a working assumption it was accepted that the surplus assets no longer needed by the newly created company’s would be retained by PKP SA and that the company would seek to repay its debt from asset sales – principally from the sales of real estate and the sales of the shares of the privatised companies

In spite of many positive effects of the restructuring process there were serious time delays caused by the unavoidable procedures necessary to regularise the legal status of real estate and to prepare the subsidiary companies for privatisation. Consequently the situation arose whereby the proceeds from asset sales proved to be insufficient to meet the actual requirements needs of PKP SA and the company continues to experience financial problems.

In such a situation PKP SA, bearing in mind its responsibilities and mindful of its statutory responsibilities and other legal obligations, takes particular care with regard to the optimum development of real estate in order to achieve the most favourable financial effect.

It is important to emphasise that intention of the Act was that PKP SA manages its assets, particularly by: transfer to other companies; outright sale; transfer for use in return for financial benefit under agreements according to the civil code; as well as the disposal of its surplus assets…

As part of the process of optimally managing its real estate portfolio PKP carries out analysis of the commercial potential of land no longer required for railway operational use and for which a future use should be indicated. Much of this real estate has heritage value.

Such an analysis was carried out also with regard to the real estate adjacent to Gniezno railway station including the area of locomotive depot which was the subject of your letter.


My train? When and where will it arrive?

Friday, 19 November 2010

Main arrivals board, Warszawa Centralna station. The train from Bialystok is shown as stopping at Lapy, Malkinia, Tluszcz and Warszawa Wschodnia, in fact it also stopped at Szeptiewo and Czyzew. Similar omissions occur with respect to all the other trains. Though the train is due in at 08:30, and the clock says that it was 08:38 when the photograph was taken, there is no sign whether the train actually arrived on time or was running late. Photo PKP.

(Click to enlarge.)

A recent trip to England left me reeling. The train arriving at platform 5 is the 12:14 for West Drayton Hayes and Harlington Ealing Broadway and London Paddington.

Amazing, I thought to myself, bloody brilliant! This is what customer service is all about. I then I took a firm grip of myself and told myself to calm down. This is, after all, what train announcers have been doing ever since the PA was invented. The reason for my excitement was my over exposure to train announcements in Poland and the sheer lack of information contained therein.

A similar announcement in Poland – translated for the benefit of our readers into English – would go like this, The train arriving at platform V, track 12, is for London Paddington calling at Hayes and Harlington and Ealing Broadway. A Polish announcer would not specify the scheduled or anticipated arrival time of my train, nor would he dream of listing all the intermediate stations. He would give out just enough information to lull me into a false sense of security to make me think that Hayes and Harlington, and Ealing Broadway were the 12:14s only intermediate stops. So if I wanted to go to West Drayton, off I would go tramping to the end of platform 5 with my heavy suitcase to reach platform 6 for the next stopping train to Paddington. Of course platform 6 would be deserted. With some luck and a following wind I might have elicited the information that stopping trains no longer depart from platform 6 and now depart from platform 5. If things went as well as the way they did when I tried to go to Stare Bojanowo from Poznan, by the time I had made my way back to platform 5, my train, the 12:24, would have departed!

The abysmal state of train information communication in Poland has been highlighted by several recent articles. One of the most pithy and hard-hitting was published under the title, Information Scandal – a normal state of affairs, in the industry monthly Rynek Kolejowy. Here is a short exerpt.

9 November 2010. Warsaw Central Station. The BW Express train from Berlin Hbf. Arrival according to ticket – 18:11. Arrival on printed timetable displayed on the platform – 18:18, platform IV. Arrival as displayed on the monitors 18:26, platform I. PA announcement as the train nears Warsaw, “The BW express will arrive at the scheduled time.” Actual time of arrival – 18:31.

The original article (in Polish) can be read by following the link at the end of the article. Many thanks to for the original link.

Official PKP publicity photograph of the main departures board, Warszawa Centralna station. The contempt for passengers wishing to travel to intermediate destinations is all-to evident. Photo PKP.

(Click to enlarge.)


Make a difference! Part 2

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Ol49-100 at Krakow Biezanow, 08:33, 30 July 2006. A group of Spa Valley Railway volunteers visiting Poland on a railway heritage study tour had just travelled overnight from Chabowka in a vintage train empty stock working. Photo BTWT.

(All photos can be clicked to see a larger image in a new window.)

Our last post Make a Difference – Part 1 generated a number of interesting comments and e-mails. One of our regular readers sent in a detailed report about a project which involves a group Brits working with a Polish society to restore a tank locomotive to working order. In order to keep costs down to the minimum, the involvement of the Brits is – for the time being – being kept under wraps. We have been asked not to divulge any detailed information at the moment, though we will publish a full report about the project just as soon as the restoration team decide that the embargo can be lifted.

Ol49-100 had been assisted by vintage electric loco EP03-01. A temporary hiatus – how do you get out of Krakow Biezanow early on a Saturday morning – was solved by the PKP Cargo Dyspozytor who arranged for a van to take the group to Krakow Plaszow station. Photo BTWT.

Another encouraging piece of news concerns the visit of a couple of British boilersmiths who visited Poland to help repair the riveted boiler of a small narrow gauge locomotive. The boilersmiths were provided with accommodation in one of the major railway heritage centres in Poland and having taken a look at the steam locomotives stored there, further visits to Poland are being discussed…

We stayed overnight at the Nocy i Dnie hotel in Russow and, on 1 August 2006, SKPL ran their last ever train along the Kalisz narrow gauge railway’s branch to the former sugar beet holding area at Russow to collect us. Photo BTWT.

Finally, former Fedecrail treasurer, Rik Degruyter used our comments section to announce that he is putting his Tkt48-23, currently stored at Pyskowice, for sale at 12.500 euros. It is a very good price; Tkh 2191 – a much smaller locomotive – was sold recently at an auction for over 70,000 zloty (17,750 euro).

No derailments and our train had successfully made it through the jungle. The driver of Lxd2-303 looks as pleased as we were. Photo BTWT.

As well as being keen to promote ‘hands on’ involvement of the sort described above, we also regularly ask BTWT readers to put pen to paper and to write to key Polish decision makers regarding particular endangered items of Polish railway heritage. Without going into too many details – lobbying is much more effective if it seems spontaneous and not coordinated – BTWT campaigners will be glad to know that their letters form a part of a much wider lobbying strategy to raise the profile of Polish railway heritage much of which cannot be reported in the pages of BTWT.

Pause to find the location of the erstwhile ‘main line’ to Kalisz. Photo BTWT.

Robert Hall’s recent trip to Poland reminds us that there is a third way that we can directly help Polish preserved railways. His afternoon working party at Smigiel – in which a group from Wolsztyn Experience also took part – made the desired impression on Smigiel Town Council: the deputy major told me recently that a group of Brits had come for a week to work at Smigiel! Such study visits provide valuable revenue to the lines and heritage centres that we visit and raise their profile in the eyes of the local authorities on whose good will the ventures depend.

‘There it is!’ Photo BTWT.

The photographs illustrating this article show a small part of a study visit which we had the pleasure to organise for volunteers from the Spa Valley Railway in conjunction with the Parowozjazda steam gala in 2006. At least two of the lines that we travelled on in 2006 are currently impassable: the Kalisz Railway’s Russow branch and the section from Zbiersk to Turek.

With the Romanian trailer changed to a 1Aw the group’s special train became one of the last workings to Turek. Photo BTWT.

In the first week of 2011, we are planning another study visit to Poland – we will visit some 15 railway heritage locations and view the annual Wolsztyn Steam Gala and Locomotive Parade. To make the visit as enjoyable as possible – and keep things informal the size of the group will be kept small. If you are interested in taking part please drop us a line.

Pt47-93, which had received a quick lick of paint in anticipation of the study tour visit, at the ‘Forgotten Skansen’ in Karsnice. Photo BTWT.

The current plan is a 10 day visit – travelling out to Poland on Wednesday 28 April and returning home on Sunday 8 May – and to visit many of the locations visited by Robert Hall. If there any particular railway heritage locations that you would like to be included in this visit please drop us a line.

The BTWT e-mail address is: railfan [at] go2 [dot] pl. Please remove the spaces and convert ‘at’ and ‘dot’ to the appropriate characters.

Make a difference! Part 1.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Tkt48-177, plinthed in front of the station buildings at Nowy Sacz. Photo Mariusz Rzepkowski, via Wikipedia Commons.

(Click image to see larger version. Click here here for details of license.)

I occasionally get enquiries from readers who are interested in buying a Polish steam locomotive. There are still a couple of hundred steam locomotives in Poland which are either plinthed at various remote country locations or mouldering in obscure sidings. In principle, what could be more worthy, than giving one of these locomotives a new lease of life. In practice, the path of locomotive acquisition and restoration can be very tortuous, particularly for someone who is not Polish.

First of all, if you do find a locomotive owner who is willing to sell you are likely to come up head-to-head with with a Polish society were also trying to acquire the same engine. If it comes to a bidding war, a ‘foreigner’ is likely to have more resources available that a Polish preservation society, but do you really want to start your railway preservation venture in Poland having antagonised the very people whose help you may need to progress your project.

Secondly, Poles are all too aware that the average income in Great Britain is some five times that in Poland. So you are likely to find yourself being charged more for many services such as transport or secure storage than a Polish owner.

Thirdly, those locomotives that are likely to come up for sale, have in all probability been stripped of so many parts that their restoration would be a long and very expensive process.

Tkp “Slask” at Labedy Steelworks. Special event organised for British railfans, September 2007. Video by Rembek.

In my view there is a better option than trying to acquire outright ownership a Polish steam locomotive. It is to join forces with an existing owner and help to provide the resources which will make possible the restoration of the locomotive within a reasonable timescale. The result could could be a win-win for both sides. The new investor is not faced with bills for acquisition, transport or secure storage. Any money immediately available can be spent on restoration. Of course, for such an arrangement to work well a clear partnership agreement properly executed according to Polish law is essential.

“Las” 0-6-0T on the Bieszczady Railway. Photo BTWT.

(Click image to see larger version. Click here here for details of license.)

How might such an agreement work? Let’s look at a number of examples. A Polish society owns a Tkt48. It only needs some £20,000 spent on it to be restored to working order. The society are busy with a large number of other projects and the Tkt48 is not a high priority. The locomotive would be available to any individual or group willing to adopt the locomotive for a particular length of time. Meanwhile another Society would be happy to lease the locomotive – once it is restored – to haul regular freight trains on a municipally owned branch line.

Take another example. An Englishman owns a Tkp ‘Slask’ 0-8-0T. He’s busy with a number of other projects in central Europe. He is looking for an individual or group to invest in the restoration of the locomotive to running order and in return for the investment is willing to give the investor a 50% share in the locomotive.

Final case. A Polish group owns a 750 mm gauge 0-6-0T ‘Las’. The group has its hands more than full working on a large collection of standard gauge rolling stock. The locomotive could easily be restored to working order. The owning Society would like a number of incoming investors to form a subgroup working as full members of the parent organisation. The locomotive’s new minders could take the loco to work on other narrow gauge lines as a roaming ‘ambassador’ for the parent organisation.

The above examples are not hypothetical, but are examples of real locos all needing a helping hand. So any ‘foster parents’ out there?

Przeworsk Action Alert

Monday, 8 November 2010

Help save the Przeworsk Railway

Permanent Way crew and trolley, Jawornik Polski, 1 April 2009.

I am appealing to all our seasoned campaigners to write to the Chief Executive of the PodKarpackie Provincial Government asking him to take action to help save the Przeworsk Railway. Here is the letter that I sent myself which contains all the contact details. Please modify the words to reflect what you would like to say yourself, rather than just copy my letter word for word.



Mr Zygmunt Cholewinski
Marszałek Wojewodztwa Podkarpackiego
Urzad Marszalkowski
al. Lukasza Cieplinskiego 4,
35-010 Rzeszow

Dear Mr Cholewinski,

I am writing to you to ask for your intervention in saving the Przeworsk Railway. The railway is one of the most scenically attractive tourist railways in Poland and the only one whose route includes a tunnel. I sincerely believe that – properly developed – the line could attract more tourists to the region and become a powerful catalyst for the revival of the area.

Over the last few years, I have attended many meetings with local authorities through whose areas the line runs. All have declared their willingness to contribute to the line’s finances. All have declared their willingness to meet together regularly to plan for the line’s revival. All have asked that for at least the first meeting you join us and help us develop a viable plan for the line’s future.

This year the line has suffered greatly because of flood damage and, without an urgent repairs, will not be able to run during the 2011. If the line does not run it will surely suffer the same devastation and theft that have destroyed many other narrow gauge railways that were left ‘in limbo’.

Accordingly, I would earnestly ask you to organise a meeting of all the line’s stake-holders, and with yourself at the head of the table, help us formulate a plan to secure the line’s continued future and further development as a ‘pearl’ of the Podkarpackie Region.

Yours sincerely


Please if at all possible send the letter by post or fax. That way it will be formally logged in the mailbox of the Chief Executive’s office. The contact details are:

Urząd Marszałkowski Województwa Podkarpackiego
al. Łukasza Cieplińskiego 4
35-010 Rzeszów
skr. pocztowa 17

tel: (017) 850 1700, (017) 860 6700
fax: (017) 850 1701

The letter should also be copied to the Chief Executive of the Przeworsk District Council, the line’s new owner:

Mr Zbigniew Kiszka
Starosta Przeworski
Starostwo Powiatowe w Przeworsku
ul. Jagiellońska 10
37-200 Przeworsk

tel./fax.+ 48 16 6487009
fax. + 48 16 6489484

The terminus at Dynow, 1 April 2009. Both photos BTWT.

The grass is always greener…

Sunday, 7 November 2010

The monogram of Juliusz Kindermann and the date of building of his ‘Cotton Goods Factory’ in Lodz. Today the factory is a listed building has become the ‘Hotel Focus’. Part of Kindermann’s mansion – which is next door to the factory – houses the ‘Keja’ pub. From a photograph by fotobolas.

(Click image to see the original photograph and other photographs of the building on the Lodz okiem przechodnia blog.)

I was having supper last night in the Hotel Focus in Lodz with an eminent British railway heritage conservationist when our conversation turned to the scrapping of Ol49-32 in Gniezno last Tuesday.

What we need in Poland, I opined, is a body like the one that operates in the UK designating certain railway objects as part of the nation’s railway heritage that must be preserved.

Like the Railway Heritage Committee? queried my dining partner.

Exactly! That’s the one, I answered.

The Railway Heritage Committee will be sentenced to death on Tuesday! I was told. Too astonished for words, I pressed my informant for more. Click the link below to read the whole sorry story.


The fly and the fly bottle

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Ol49-32 in Gniezno shed. On Tuesday this locomotive was removed from the Wciaz pod Para database of surviving Polish steam locomotives. Photo ©Tomislaw Czarnecki.

(Click on image to go to Tomislaw Czarnecki’s on-line catalogue of Polish steam locomotives.)

Wittgenstein very fittingly compares a certain type of philosopher with a fly in a bottle, going on and on, buzzing about. And he says it is the task of his philosophy to show the fly the way out of the bottle. But I think it is Wittgenstein himself who is in the bottle and never finds his way out of it; and I certainly don’t think he has shown anybody else the way out.

Karl Popper

Poland’s railway heritage faces dark times. I have just taken part in a programme on Radio Rzeszow about the future of the Przeworsk narrow gauge railway. The radio programme was like a game of ‘pass the parcel’. The Chief Executive of Przeworsk District Council noted a distinct coolness on the part of the Podkarpackie Province regional government in rallying to the railway cause. The representative of the regional government used the opportunity to blame the District Council and SKPL. SKPL blamed everything on the lack of funding. Nobody discussed how the railway can get out of the current mess and move forward.

The situation around the country is little better. There is no agreed plan to safeguard the collection in Poland’s national railway museum, the Railway Museum in Warsaw, neither is there an accepted strategy for the future of the railway museum in Chabowka. The scheme that was being developed for the future of operations at Wolsztyn – a separate company to administer the shed – failed to win the support of members of the Wielkopolska provincial government. There is no project to resurrect the Krosniewice Railway. The narrow gauge railway at Jedrzejow faces the hostility of its local authority owners. The society maintaining the historic collection of rolling stock in the former locomotive dep0ot at Pyskowice continues to face eviction…

So what of Poland’s railway enthusiasts? A select few actually work on restoring railways and their rolling stock. Many more take photographs, or spend hours on rail-related Internet forums. However, only a tiny minority are prepared to actively ‘lobby’. They still have to learn how to develop an effective voice and how to use it to address Poland’s decision makers. If only half the effort that goes into on-line intercine warfare was focussed on the addressing the outside world…

So is there any way that those of us who are ‘outsiders’ can help? By the strange Alice-in-Wonderland relations that govern Poland, a letter or e-mail originating from the United Kingdom or United States can have a much bigger effect than a similar missive sent from Poland. An even bigger impact can be made when visiting Poland’s heritage railways – make an appointment at the town hall or municipal government offices and tell the Chief Executive how far you have come specifically to visit the railway.

It may take time, but the cumulative effect of such initiatives can be a powerful force for good.


Ol49-32 scrapped at Gniezno yesterday

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

by John Savery

Ol49-32 awaits it fate at Gniezno on 20.9.2010.
Photo John Savery.

I have just read (on Tomislaw Czarnecki’s site) that the scrapping of Ol49-32 at Gniezno has been going on today.

The attached shows the state of the loco on 20 September – not a pretty sight, but no worse than some Barry wrecks that have been restored to working order. Nevertheless, there are plenty more locos in Poland with uncertain futures, and whilst I am not condoning the scrapping, saving key components )such as axles and frames) for other locos would surely have been a logical step?

An immaculately turned out Ol49-32 working in Wolsztyn in 1992. Video