Make a difference! Part 1.


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?

5 Responses to “Make a difference! Part 1.”

  1. Rik Degruyter Says:

    Restoring a steam locomotive is one point. But it is all to important to know if the investment can be written of in a tourist line project earning enough money to maintain it to running order and to pay for is forseeable next overhaul within 10-15 years. The idea that it could also serve in freight traffic is good.

    I am happy to see that there are now many groups out in Poland, who aim to run a tourist service. But make no mistake: even my own preservation society, with of course far more money than similar organisation in Poland is still struggling hard to keep the tourist service running. And that includes locomotives, coaches, sheds, buildings, signalling, permanent way, the lot!!! And not to forget administration, accounting, line up the volunteers, the policy, you name it…

    Some good advice: stay independent, make the authorities work for you, find sponsors even to the smallest sums, work low profile, work as a tourist attraction, not as a bunch of railway “I know better” enthusiasts, get locals involved, look for European funding, etc.

    Sorry for this but I tried to air 30 years experience.

  2. Rik Degruyter Says:

    By the way with my friend Jason I own Tkt48-23 stored at Pyskowice. It is not complete, but we have many parts carefully in safety. For sale at 12.500 euros. Pass the word.

  3. Trevor Says:

    There are many other ways to be involved, even if you cannot afford to help or know where to invest. Sometimes just continuing to talk about the fact of railways in Poland to people keeps the subject live, or just applying your own skills, whatever they may be.

    I started off talking to people about the narrow gauge railway here, then had a website, and now I try to incorporate images in my photography exhibitions. I am never sure where the effect will pay off, but using my own skills is how I can best help.

  4. Trevor Says:


    Secondly, Poles are all too aware that the average income in Great Britain is some five times that in Poland.

    One of the problems is that when I lived in the UK, my salary was very low and yet it did not stop me being proactive. My salary in Poland is also low, and I am still proactive. The thing is never, ever to use the word ‘Poles’ – this is the biggest excuse / con ever, people hide behind it all the time.

    People live in Poland, and they get paid all kinds of money, but the moment anyone talks about resolving problems, people start talking about Poles, and from that all the excuses come. Oh, you are lucky, but we are poor / hard dun by / had a terrible past… – you know the stuff.

    In a similar vein my wife (Polish) lost a lot of weight through hard work and persistence. Now she is told that she only lost weight because she is ‘lucky’, while they cannot lose weight because they are not lucky. Of course, it is rubbish, and so is the salary difference argument, it’s a smokescreen individuals use for non-action or to con you, whether or not the non-action is justified or fixable.

    So, my advice, never, ever use the word ‘Poles’, you play into the hands of the excuse makers and alienate the people who do actually try hard.


  5. John Says:

    Would love to buy the Tkt48.

    I have previously enquired on a different Tkt48, BR52, 2 different ol49s.

    Each time I come up against foreign owner hysteria.. so much so that one Ol49 was cut up for £7k rather than to sell it to a foreigner.. and that was with local assistance.

    In short, in my experience.. if your British they only want your wallet, they won’t help unless money attached to everything.

    Oh an unless you have a new firebox fitted (if non-op since 1989) and a full maintenance history.. forget any PKP running… at least that was one excuse.

    So sadly now, I will say thanks but no thanks.

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